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Dormant Bermuda Grass ?? Quick question

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  • Dormant Bermuda Grass ?? Quick question

    I know it's nearly spring and this is more of a winter question, but my understanding is that once Bermuda Grass goes dormant, it is has little to no nutritional value.
    Is this correct?
    My BO's husband seems to think that the horses can eat the dormant Bermuda in the fields, I said NO and bought more hay (long story- horses have lots of hay but BO husband is an idiot in my mind)
    So who is right ME or HIM???

  • #2
    I overseed my coastal bermuda pastures with rye. I also throw hay till the rye grass is growing. I don't think the dormant grass has much nutritional value. I also don't want them grazing the dormant grass down and then digging for the roots. I would rather spend the money on hay and rye seed then having to repair damage to my pasture.


    • Original Poster

      Thank you for that info! I will somehow let the BO (and her husband) know why they wouldn't want the horses to HAVE to eat the dormant bermuda grass. That makes a lot of sense. There is other grass planted in the fields as it is growing quite well now and the bermuda is still dormant.
      I just couldn't believe that he suggested that they didn't need anymore hay because they could eat the bermuda- just pisses me off when someone wants to cut corners when it comes to my horse. I understand that this winter as severe and we ran very low on hay- that is why I just went ahead and got a good quality round bale, and will get another if needed. I would sooner cough up the extra $50 or so that will feed all 3 horses (only 1 is mine) then to argue with an idiot and possibly not have my horse fed. On a positive side, they are usually very good and kind and live very close so I see my horse most every day. The 3 horses share a 6 acre field so they have a lot of grass during the rest of the year- this winter was a little exceptional here in the south.


      • #4
        Originally posted by tasia View Post
        I overseed my coastal bermuda pastures with rye. I also throw hay till the rye grass is growing. I don't think the dormant grass has much nutritional value. I also don't want them grazing the dormant grass down and then digging for the roots. I would rather spend the money on hay and rye seed then having to repair damage to my pasture.
        I feed hay from October to March even though we over seed with Rye.
        "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


        • #5
          the easiest way to answer is to take some scissors and cut the standing grass for a forage test...then you will know for certain

          Tamara in TN
          Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
          I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


          • #6
            Originally posted by PRS View Post
            I feed hay from October to March even though we over seed with Rye.
            This too I didn't mean for it to sound like I stop feeding hay. I just don't worry about throwing hay in the pasture once the rye is growing. They still get hay 3 times a day during feeding.


            • #7
              Where are you located?
              Grazing the dormant grass won't hurt it much. It is the lack of moisture that is what hurts everything.
              Feed good quality hay and let the horses have both. If they don't clean up what hay you are feeding then feed what they will finish (at each meal or feeding time) rather than wasting hay.
              I plan on feeding my cows and horses from late November to middle-late March (this is for my planning). Usually the cows stop eating hay by the last week of Feb and unless we get some really cold, severe weather in March, they want nothing to do with dry boring round bales of hay.


              • Original Poster

                I live in North AL. I am still feeding hay, although the grass is coming in. I doubt the horses would eat the dormant bermuda unless they were REALLY hungry. The reason for my post was to find out if Bermuda had any real nutrients when dormant, because my BOs husband didnt' want to purchase more hay.
                Somehow he thinks that my OTTB is going to thrive on dormant grass.


                • #9
                  Yes they will eat it when it's dormant. The trouble is that they will also pull the roots up as they graze on it. This is especially a problem with the newer hybrids like Cheyenne. If you leave the Cheyenne long enough for them to graze on it when it's dormant, you will have little to none next season.

                  After I overseed Rye in the fall, I always clip the Bermuda short which makes it less likely to be pulled up.


                  • #10
                    I think throwing hay when the grass is dormant also helps to keep the horses from chewing my board fencing.


                    • #11
                      For those of you who plant rye in the fall, do you worry about founder or other issues due to the sugar content in the grass?

                      Do you keep horses out 24/7 or keep them off it early in the morning after a frost?

                      Thanks for the replies...trying to learn about pasture mgt in the south, and horse mgt too.
                      Up north here, we just get snow...and that does it in for them for about 6 months, LOL.
                      My horses will love grazing, and I am sure will be out on dormant bermuda, thinking it is the last grass they will see for awhile! Little will they know that snow better not be coming in our new home!
                      I will be feeding out hay too, but know if some of them had a choice...its pasture, even if its dormant. Will have to gate them out of the pasture and force them to eat hay.
                      My real concern though is the rye and any potential concerns, problems I should know about.
                      Sorry, OP if I am taking this off track.
                      save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                      • #12
                        31 years. Overseeded Marshall Rye most falls. Horses have free choice round bales-in a variety of varieties- available during the same season they can graze on the Rye. The years that conditions haven't been good enough for the Rye to amount to anything, hay consumption doubles, so I think it's fair to say they get half their forage from the Rye when available.


                        Never had a sick horse in something over 200 horse years.


                        • #13
                          Here in Camden, SC - I expect to feed hay from early-mid October until mid-April.

                          Grass stops growing due to combined usual fall season minimum rain and cooler temps. Horses are moved to areas with little to no grass to save the grassy paddocks.

                          Grass starts growing again in March and I like to cut the 1st growth and put them out on the 2nd growth. Hay is fed until the spring rain and temps provide sufficient grass growth.
                          "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                          Courtesy my cousin Tim


                          • #14
                            When do you overseed? We are in OK and would love to have some winter green stuff to graze on. But have also been warned about grazing horses on winter green stuff.

                            Of course in OK, where wheat is king, rye is a dirty word ;-)

                            But seriously...
                            What time of year do you overseed?
                            Do you just broadcast or drill it?
                            Do you add any fertilizer with it?
                            What if there is no rain for "a while" after seeding?
                            Do you pull the horses off the field after seeding and if so, how long?
                            Is Marshall rye an annual? I am assuming it is?



                            • #15
                              another thread I'll be watching!! (I'm NOT stalking Tom K. I swear! but I'm learning a lot!)
                              ...the little farmette has what I consider a weed? variety bermuda type...definitely goes dormant in winater. I too, want to know/learn about rye seeding for cool season grazing, and Tom being in NC will probably be 'close' enough to follow for this property in SE VA.
                              Now...Tamara: who does the forage tests?
                              "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                              --Jimmy Buffett


                              • #16
                                dairy one

                                Tamara in TN
                                Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                                I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                                • #17
                                  I'm in SE VA also and broadcast winter rye in the fall. Didn't have the best weather for it last fall (hot changed to cold over night)so didn't see it come up much then, but now it's green, green, green out there. I'm no expert on this -just have taken advice from these threads. Rye seems to be easy to get going - I don't have any fancy equipment to seed it just a bucket full and I throw it, but I'm a small farmette. I've heard annual rye for grazing and have been told to stay away from perennial rye. Maybe someone can tell if this info is correct.


                                  • #18
                                    We put down gulf annual rye in October/November. It depends on when we get the last cutting of hay. We drag it in and fertilize after it starts growing. We didn't have great conditions this year, very dry. Rye likes rain and nitrogen. It's even better if you drill the seed in.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by ayrabz View Post
                                      who does the forage tests?
                                      Call your county extension agent. They can either tell you where, and how. Or they may even submit it for you. And help you interpret it.
                                      That is what you tax dollars are for!