FLORIDA FORAGE INFORMATION:
Growing grass in florida can be very tricky and very time consuming. In order to grow good grass for your alpacas you must do a few things. Here are a few of our own farm tips to help you stabilize your pastures, grow addiquate grazing grass.
If you are just starting out with bare pastures
Sunlight is the key, the more sunlight you have the better your pastures will become. Once you have flat and even dirt for your grass seed. Take a sample of your pasture dirt to your local agriculture agent and have them test your dirt in your pasture. You can find this information out in your local phone book or government office. You can also purchase a test kit at your local hardware store like: Lowes Improvement Store or Home Depot. We purchased ours at Home Depot. After you have your dirt tested, then you will be able to provide proper fertilization. This is a major key if you want grass to grow. In our case we had alot of acid levels in our dirt due to us, having a very wooded pasture and we took out trees and removed alot of debris ( Leave matter in which when rott, make the soil acid ) So we had to add lime ( pasture lime that is safe for livestock ). * CAUTION, When ever using fertilizer, make sure your animals are not grazing from that pasture, and do not allow them back on it till all fertilizer is absorbed into the soil.
Now after you have done all of the above, now its the choice of grass seed. We wanted Bahia Grass for our pastures. The reason for this is its a Florida Grass, its easily grown, and has deep root content. Plus it comes back every year. Bahia Grass goes through a dormiant faze in the winter time. In the spring and summer, it comes back in full force and is so lush and thick. Bahia grass is a hardy grass and hardy succomes to under ground critters. Here is our method of growing Bahia Grass.
First we planted a nurse crop, this helps stabilize the ground and helps the Bahia Grass stay in place.
Our Nurse Crop was Hybrid Millet, You must start this in Spring and Summer months. This grass will not hold in the Fall and Winter months. It dies off and some might return if the root content hasn' t been removed. We seeded with Hybrid Millet, and on top of the hybrid millet we placed Bahia. Be careful not to add to much millet, this can choke out the Bahia Grass. TIP* Once the Millet is off staple length of 4 inches, you must mow it to provide sunlight to the Bahia grass. Bahia grass takes about 1 month to fully come up and can take up to 1 year to stablize.
In the Fall and Winter Months we fertilized again with fertilizer that is ok for livestock * TIP purchased at Hancock Seed in Dade City, Florida. We planted Annual Rye Grass not Perinial Rye Grass. Search for Endophyte free rye. * I know what you are thinking right now, what on earth is an Endophyte. An Endophyte is an fungi, which travels up the blades of grass and the alpacas or other grazing livestock eats it and then you have a RYEGRASS STAGGERS PROBLEM. Ryegrass staggers is dangerous to livestock and
can cause seizures and even death to young alpacas. In early pregnant females can cause abortion.
I know what you are thinking right now, so why plant rye grass if it can affect these beautiful alpacas.
Well its simple, some alpacas will not be affected with rye grass. As long as you state Endophyte free
rye grass and its the Annual Ryegrass and not the Perinnal Rye. Plus you only allow your alpacas to graze the rye grass after the rye grass has grown 4 inches or more. You are ok. The endophyte only travels up the blades of 2 inches. In some cases the insect has traveled higher then 2 inches. * TIP do not allow early pregnant females or crias under 6 months on rye grass. If your females are used to this grass and young crias. Then allow it, BUT ONLY with the advice from your alpaca veterinarian....
Ok now back on the Florida Grasses.
Bermuda Grass - is a very drought resistant grass. It is one of the most valuable grasses of the southern portion of the United States. It like Bahia Grass has a deep root system. Now the nutritional value decreases as the grass matures. Bermuda grass should be grazed early on. Coastal varieties has been developed that produces few seed heads that might get caught up in alpaca fiber.
Pensacola/Bahia Mix - Pensacola is the most widely grown cultivar. It was found growing in Pensacola, Florida in 1935 by Escambia County Extension Agent, Ed Finlayson. Pensacola has long, narrow leaves, taller seed stalks, and it flowers earlier than other cultivars. Like other bahiagrasses, it has a fibrous root-system capable of growing to a depth of 7 feet or more. Pensacola has some cold tolerance, but top growth is killed by moderate frosts. In northern Florida more early-season and late-season production can be obtained from the Pensacola types than from other bahiagrass cultivars.
Tifton-9 Pensacola - Tifton-9 Pensacola was released in 1987. It was developed through a bahiagrass breeding program by Dr. Glen Burton, USDA, Tifton, Georgia. Compared with the Pensacola cultivar from which it was bred, Tifton-9 has much greater vigor in the seedling stage and develops longer leaves. It also grows better during the short-day, cool season and therefore has 30% greater yield than Pensacola, but quality is the same.
Argentine Grass - Argentine is a selection that was introduced from Argentina in 1944. It has wider leaves, is not as cold tolerant as the Pensacola types, and does not make growth as early in the spring. Ergot disease can develop on the seed of this cultivar and reduce seed yield. It is popular in the sod trade because it puts up fewer seedheads and later so in the season than Pensacola.
You can purchase any of these top grass seed mixtures at: Hancock Seed Company
This is the company that we purchase our seed from. We have been very happy with
Phone: # 1-800-552-1027