Understanding that grasses and legumes cannot, in most places, provide pasture for livestock throughout the year is the first step in wisely using miscellaneous forages. Investigating which plants can be used to extend the growing season and provide feed when grasses and legumes are less productive is the second.

There are some grasses that many people are so familiar with that they may not be thought of as grasses. Rice, wheat, corn, oats, barley, and rye are grasses used as food for humans but they can have a role in feeding livestock. They are the grasses used for cereals. Cereal crops are annual grasses that are often grown for their fruit which we call grain. The main cereal crops that can be used as forage include wheat, barley, oats, winter rye, and triticale. These grasses grow tall and leafy and may be grazed initially and then be allowed to produce grain. The grazing must take place before the internodes of the stem elongate which raises the growing point. If removed by grazing, a fruit cannot develop. Early grazing can be livestock feed, followed by grain production and harvesting and eventually the crop residue (straw, sometimes called stover) can be used as fodder or livestock bedding. Cereal forages may be overseeded or sod-sown into legume or perennial grass pastures for winter feed.

One of the main plant families that are used as miscellaneous forages in the US is brassica (also called crucifers). Brassica, a genus from the Cruciferae, seem to have originated in the area of the Mediterranean and utilized early in Asia and Europe. The main species of the brassica genus have been used for hundreds of years as livestock feed. Brassica rapa L. is the turnips grouping. B. napus l. includes the swedes and rapes and B. oleracea L. is the kale grouping. Turnips, rape, swede, and kale are the main species used as forage. They can be grown all year long in moist, cool climates or as a winter forage in warmer ones. They are considered cold tolerant and will grow on a variety of soils but do need moisture although not water-logged conditions. Although many may be greenchopped or used as silage, they are mainly used for grazing.

Turnips will quickly produce green, leafy vegetative growth than can be a miscellaneous forage. Eighty to ninety days will produce a good feed for October and November in the cooler states. Then the large taproot of the turnip can also be used. The ratio of leaf tops to roots varies quite a lot among the varieties. The leaves tend to be higher in crude protein than the roots. New varieties are being produced to have better top-to-leaf ratios. But the leaves do not fair as well as the roots in certain weather and may be damaged by pests. Whole crops can essentially be used twice and yield 4500 to 7500 kg DM/ha.

Rape and kale are plants resembling cabbage leaves but do not form heads. Rape will grow up to 2.5 feet (0.76 meters) and kale a little larger. There are several varieties, some good for forage, others good for oil. The forage varieties (Dwarf Essex, annual turnip rape, biennial turnip rape, thousand-headed kale) are often planted as pasture but could be used for silage. They can be seeded alone or with oats or annual ryegrass and have good feed quality. Kale and rape are sometimes chopped and hand-fed because much can be trampled. It can be planted and yield feed in 8-10 weeks.

Swedes produce a large, edible root like turnips do. Swede yields are higher than turnips but they require a longer growth period (150-180 days). The can be successfully used as fall or early winter grazing in many parts of the US.

Chicory is another plant often used to extend the feed resources. This perennial plant prefers well-drained soils with good fertility and a pH of 5.5 or above. Chicory produces a low-growing rosette in winter but leafy growth in the summer that is very nutritious. It can provide a good summer forage because of its large taproot.

Other plants that have been used to complement grasses, medics, and clovers and extend the growing season include: sunflowers, fodder radish, fodder beats, lupines, vetches, leafy mustard, small burnet, and sainfoin.