University of Missouri Extension

M181, New February 2012

Dairy Grazing: Selecting the Right Forage

Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth)

Legumes

Hairy vetch is a winter annual legume used to a limited extent in Missouri. Hairy vetch is typically sown in late August or early September, and the plants generally form a crown before December. In spring, the plant produces weak branching stems or vines 3 to 6 feet long. Hairy vetch is commonly used in conjunction with cereal rye or wheat for silage. However, it also works well for early spring pasture. It withstands trampling and provides grazing from mid-April through May. The feed value of hairy vetch is slightly lower than that of red clover or alfalfa. Well-nodulated hairy vetch can enrich the soil with 60 to 120 lb/acre of nitrogen through nitrogen fixation. The primary limitation to the use of hairy vetch is that it produces forage only during spring when many other forages are also productive.

Hairy vetchHairy vetch
 

Yield distributionYield distribution of hairy vetch in Missouri.
 

Seed head
Flowers

Collar region
Tendrils


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