University of Missouri Extension

M181, New February 2012

Dairy Grazing: Selecting the Right Forage

Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman)

Warm-season grasses

Big bluestem used to be the dominant grass in the native prairies of Missouri. Today, this perennial warm-season bunchgrass is used for forage and wildlife habitat. Big bluestem grows statewide, and it is currently found on about 1 million acres in Missouri. It produces good quality hay and will persist indefinitely if properly managed. It is both winter- and drought-hardy and does better in poorly drained soils than some other warm-season grasses. It is also compatible with many other forage species. However, it is slow to establish, and thus weeds can make establishment a problem. It works well in a planned grazing system if it is not allowed to become mature before grazing and if a 6-inch or greater stubble height is maintained to encourage regrowth.

Big bluestemBig bluestem

Yield distributionYield distribution of big bluestem in Missouri.

Seed head
Seed head

Collar region
Collar region

M181 Dairy Grazing: Selecting the Right Forage | University of Missouri Extension

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