Articles on forages, animals, and grazing systems
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Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-3358
Fax: (859) 323-1952
This summer, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service provided the opportunity to share their success of the 300 Day Grazing Program with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service by inviting us for a private two-day tour of the program. Three University of Kentucky Extension specialists, three Agriculture and Natural Resource county Extension agents, a representative from the Kentucky Beef Network, and the Master Grazer Program Coordinator (myself) teamed up to travel throughout Arkansas to learn about the program in preparation of developing a similar program in Kentucky. We toured farms that have implemented managed grazing practices and discussed the results of the program with Arkansas county Extension agents, producers, University of Arkansas Extension specialists, and the 300 Day Grazing program coordinator.
The Arkansas 300 Day Grazing Program began in 2008 with the goal of educating producers, agents and related agencies about ways to reduce livestock production expenses, help mitigate impact of drought and other climatic challenges, and to improve sustainability of livestock operations. This program is a successful collaboration between producers, county agents, extension and research-farm staff. Demonstrations were conducted on both individual producers’ farms and at the university research farm. Key management practices illustrated in these demonstrations included: stockpiling tall fescue, stockpiling bermuda grass, growing legumes, growing summer annual forage, growing winter annual forage, improving grazing management, reducing hay losses in storage, and reducing hay losses during feeding.
All demonstration farms used in the 300 Day Grazing Program were able to extend their grazing season and feed less hay during the year. All producers also had economic savings as a result of managed grazing practices. As a result of the program, more than one producer said, “I’m still grazing when my neighbors start to feed hay.” One producer was even able to graze all year and didn’t have to feed hay at all. These results are also what caught the attention of the Kentucky group and prompted interest to learn how to implement similar programs in Kentucky.
The Arkansas tour consisted of five different farms that provided demonstrations for the 300 Day Grazing Program: four producer demonstration farms and the Batesville Livestock and Forestry Research Center. Advice that seemed to be reiterated at each farm by each producer included two things. 1) In order to be successful with the program, producers must plan a few seasons ahead and manage their farms accordingly. 2) No two farms will have the same management system. It’s important for producers to learn to manage what they have and find what works for them. One producer explained that the program taught him, “It’s all about working not that much harder, but working smarter.” In most cases, each demonstration farm would start by incorporating one new practice. For example, interseeding legumes or adopting temporary fencing so they could rotational graze. Rotational grazing was a theme of all the demonstration farms, one of the core principles that greatly contributed to the success of the program.
The University of Kentucky would like to thank the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service for their time and preparations, as well as the many producers they came in contact with.
From left, bottom row: Dr. Ray Smith, Dan Miller Middle row: Daniel Wilson, Tommy Yankey, Kimberly Poe, Dr. Donna Amaral-Phillips, Kelly Kramer Top Row: Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Kenny Simon