Generally, pasture conditions look good in Manitoba, with early growth just starting to appear, but John McGregor of the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association says it should be another two to three weeks before cattlemen actually begin to transition cattle to pasture.
"As we get into this warm weather, the grass is starting to grow tall enough so that it can overcome the lack of energy in its roots from the winter, and replace some of that so it can continue to grow throughout the whole season," he says.
McGregor reccommends producers wait until grass is between six to eight inches tall — although he stresses it's only a recommendation, as he realizes producers sometimes have to put cattle on pasture earlier.
"If they do that, once the cattle are out there, (they should) move (cattle) through the pasture so the pastures maintain at least four inches of green growth," he says, "this then allows the plant to continue to utilize the energy from the sun to produce new leaf growth and help the roots continue to grow."
Once pastures are out of the spring phase and are growing rapidly, McGregor says it's then a good idea to try skim-grazing, in which cattle move through pastures, only taking off the top two to three inches of new growth.
"What this does, is it prevents the grasses from heading out, that way the grasses can continue to produce further into the summer, when it does get a lot drier, and it also allows the pastures to maintain good growth so the producers can graze those extended into the fall," he explains.
In terms of pasture regrowth conditions right now, McGregor says he's not too concerned about soil moisture at the moment, he says the main focus is allowing grass to absorb sunlight.