Source: Eric Bailey, 573-884-7873

Release of CRP land for grazing in northern Missouri gives relief for some cow herds on drought-shorted pastures.
The Conservation Reserve Program with USDA Farm Service Agency pays farmers to keep erosion-prone land out of production. It now allows short-term grazing in 42 counties in northern Missouri. Under current grazing terms that use ended July 15. That may be extended.
The counties are mostly north of a line from Kansas City to Marshall to Hannibal.
Many restrictions apply on land use. First, farmers must request and receive approval in writing before use. Only certain CRP programs are eligible.
Producers are urged to get all rules from their local FSA office. Owners of CRP land can lease grazing rights. Haying isn’t allowed.
Eric Bailey, University of Missouri beef nutritionist, says to use released forage with caution.
In normal times, the land isn’t intended for grazing. It isn’t regularly burned, grazed or hayed. That allows low-quality forage to accumulate.
“Producers must realize CRP forage will be poor quality,” Bailey says. “It will be below 50 percent total digestible nutrients (TDN) and 7 percent crude protein. It may not be palatable.”
Those low nutrients should not be expected to support cows nursing young calves or for growing feeder calves, Bailey says. “Additional feed must be used.”
“CRP forage should be used as part of a total mixed ration,” he adds. “CRP forage may need significant supplemental energy.”
MU livestock specialists can assist with planning rations. Contacts are through local extension centers.
In addition, the MU Ag Electronic Bulletin Board ( on the internet helps. It lists current prices and sources for commodity feeds such as distillers grains, corn gluten pellets, wheat midds and soyhulls used in most feed rations.
A starting point is 5 to 7 pounds of these feeds per cow of any of the above feeds.
Pregnant fall-calving cows likely need only 5 to 7 pounds of these feeds per day at this point. Expect cows nursing calves to need 1 percent (12 to 15 pounds) of their body weight per day if pastures are short.
In drought-stressed areas, herd owners can be proactive in feed management. The next calf crop depends on it. By fitting supplement to cow needs, costs can be lowered.
Bailey warns that even with recent rains, most areas have lost the bountiful spring growth on pastures. “Expect poor pastures to persist through the rest of this growing season.”
If FSA extends CRP releases, that will end Sept. 30. Now, grazing must be limited to 75 percent of each field. Minimum stubble heights must be left.
If CRP forage fails due to grazing, it must be replanted at expense of CRP owners. There are more rules.
Bailey says, “Remember, MU Extension is here to help.” Contacts are in local centers in each county.
CRP contract holders will know their local FSA. The webpage is at