Forage: Forage Species

There are many forage species that can be grown in Tennessee. One of the key points in successful forage production is deciding which species to use.

Please use our species guide to locate specific information that you may need.

Information and Resources

Link Pointer Native Grass Forages for the Eastern U.S.
This book provides a holistic view of using native grasses on today’s farms. Organized into five sections, the book provides comprehensive and practical information on using these grasses including life history, establishment, management, troubleshooting, and benefits of native grass species.

Link Pointer Forage Mixtures for Dairy Grazing
With the right management and the proper forage species, as little as 5-10 acres can be grazed, replacing 20-30 percent of the TMR with no drop in milk production.

Link Pointer Teff Grass
Teff grass (Eragrostis tef) is a warm-season annual grass that is native to Africa. It has been used in the past as a grain crop, but has recently received increased interest in use as a forage crop. It is a fine-stemmed, fine-leaved grass with a relatively shallow root system that grows 15-18 inches tall.

Link Pointer Tall Fescue: Endophyte-Infected or Endophyte-Free?
Whether endophyte-free or endophyte-infected tall fescue is used, proper management is essential to obtain the highest level of performance possible.

Link Pointer Adjusting Mowing Equipment for Increased Stubble Heights When Harvesting Native Grasses
Special attention should be paid to the cutting height when harvesting switchgrass or other native warm-season grasses for forage or biomass. A target stubble height of 8 inches (minimum 6 inches) is recommended for these tall-growing grasses.

Link Pointer Improving a Weak Stand of Tall Fescue
After the drought, many of the tall fescue pastures and hayfields across the state have thin stands. This creates a difficult situation. There may not be anything more difficult to deal with than a weak stand of grass.

Link Pointer Intercropping Legumes with Native Warm-Season Grasses
Although legumes have been used in cool-season pastures and hayfields, they are not widely used in native warm-season grass production. However, given the trends in the price of nitrogen fertilizers in recent years, interseeding legumes could become an important management practice.

Link Pointer Alfalfa High-quality Forage Production
Alfalfa (scientific name Medicago sativa) is one of the most well-known and widely used forage crops in the world. Its high yield and quality allow it to be used in feeding programs for many different types of livestock.

Link Pointer Using Switchgrass as Forage
While there has been a great deal of media attention on the merits of switchgrass as a biofuel feedstock, many are less familiar with the potential of switchgrass as a forage crop. Switchgrass, like a number of other native warm-season grasses, can actually produce high-quality forage.

Link Pointer Native Warm-Season Grasses for Mid-South Forage Production
Native warm-season grasses are a group of tall-growing bunch grasses that offer the potential for excellent forage production across the Mid-South. They have a number of key attributes that make them of interest to forage growers in the region.

Link Pointer Native Grasses in Wildlife and Forage Production
Forage production in the mid-south with identification, establishment, management, planting advice, harvest information, and forage crop diversification as a biofuel and wildlife refuge.

Link Pointer Native Warm-Season Grasses in the Mid-South
A landowner’s guide to native warm-season grasses are grasses historically native to an area that grow during the warm months of the year and are dormant during autumn and winter.

Link Pointer Small Grains, Ryegrass and Clovers for Forage
Small grains and ryegrass provide a producer with the flexibility to either graze high-quality forage during the fall, winter and spring, or cut silage or hay. No matter if planted in 100 acres for silage production, or five acres as a winter supplement to beef cows, the high nutrient content of these forages can provide excellent performance from any group of livestock. Even though these crops live for only one year, they have potential for use in several ways.

Link Pointer Summer Annual Grasses
Livestock production in Tennessee is based on cool-season perennial forages such as tall fescue and orchardgrass. These grasses are productive during the spring and fall, but become semi-dormant during the summer months.

Link Pointer Tall Fescue, Orchardgrass and Timothy
The majority of pastures and hayfields in Tennessee contain either tall fescue, orchardgrass or timothy. These are cool-season perennial grasses, meaning that they grow during the spring and fall, but are somewhat less productive or dormant during the summer. Since they are perennial, they come back each year from a crown instead of through seed germination.

Link Pointer Renovation- Planting Clovers in Grass Pastures
Legumes are a valuable component of a pasture or hay field because they result in improved animal performance and a decreased need for nitrogen. Either of these benefits alone is enough to make the legumes profitable. Having both makes legumes a component of the pasture that we should focus on constantly. The steps listed in this publication should help establish and maintain the legumes in our fields.