University of Missouri Extension

M181, New February 2012

Dairy Grazing: Selecting the Right Forage

Old World bluestems e.g., Caucasian bluestem (Bothriochloa bladhii (Retz.) S.T. Blake)

Warm-season grasses

The Old World bluestems are a group of warm-season grasses imported from Russia. They are not related to native bluestems such as big and little bluestems. Caucasian bluestem is the most commonly grown Old World bluestem and finds its widest use in southern Missouri. Caucasian bluestem tolerates heavy grazing; in fact, for forage quality to be acceptable for dairy cows, caucasian bluestem must not be allowed to grow taller than 6 inches. It is also winter-hardy and easier to establish than many other warm-season grasses. It tolerates shallow and infertile soils better than many other species. However, caucasian bluestem is best grown by itself because of its aggressiveness. It does not grow well on poorly drained soils. Finally, its nutritive value plummets if it is not well fertilized with nitrogen or if it is permitted to form seed heads.

Old World bluestemsOld World bluestems

Yield distributionYield distribution of Old World bluestems 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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