Welcome to the Master Grazer Educational Program

-an educational program to improve grazing practices in beef, dairy, goat and sheep herds


Grazing News Articles

Articles on forages, animals, and grazing systems

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Master Grazer Educational Program reports to KY Ag Development Fund Board:

2016 Third Quarter Report
2016 Second Quarter Report
2016 First Quarter Report
2015-2016 Bi-Annual Report
2013-2014 Bi-annual Report
2012 Annual Accomplishments
2011 Annual Accomplishments




Zach Workman

Master Grazer Coordinator
821B W.P. Garrigus Building
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY
(859) 257-7512
E-mail: zewo222@uky.edu

Faculty Coordinators:

Dr. Ray Smith

Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-3358
Fax: (859) 323-1952  
Email: raysmith1@uky.edu

Dr. Donna Amaral-Phillips

Extension Dairy Cattle Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-7542
Fax: (859) 257-7537  
Email: damaral@uky.edu

Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler

Extension Beef Cattle Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-2853
Fax: (859) 257-3412  
Email: jeff.lehmkuhler@uky.edu


Assessing Pastures: Forage Identification


When planning a grazing management plan for your pastures, it’s important to realize that pasture is the most economical and efficient way to feed your animals. When managing pasture, both the animal nutrient needs and pasture requirements should be considered. To start, begin by identifying the forage species in a pasture. Next estimate how much of it is there. During most of the spring and fall in Kentucky, you will find cool-season grasses along with some legumes.


Kentucky Bluegrass can be identified by its signature mark of the boat shaped tip at the end of the blade. KY Bluegrass is a thin, upright grass that has a rolled stem at the base of the plant, and forms a dense sod, almost like a mat. You may also notice it before other cool season grasses as it typically seeds sooner than orchardgrass or tall fescue.


Tall Fescue is one of the most prominent forages in Kentucky, and one of its most obvious forms of identification is the feel of the blades. The blades of Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue, the most prevalent variety, are very rough and thick feeling, particularly if you slide your hand down the plant towards the base. The base is a rolled stem, and has a prominent auricle where the leaf attaches to the stem. Tall fescue is a bunch grass, and tends to grow straight up from the base of the plant.


Orchardgrass is also a bunch grass, but has a softer, smoother feel than tall fescue. It is more of a flexible and pliable grass. It is also one of the few plants to have a flat stem at the base, making it easy to identify. While color may vary slightly, orchardgrass looks more of a lighter gray/blue green, while tall fescue tends to be a darker green. This species will typically only persist in a stand for 5 or 6 years, as it is less tolerable to heavy grazing.


White Clover and Red Clover can appear very similar at first glance but have very distinguishable features setting them apart. While both are clovers with true trifoliate leaves, white clover produces a white flower while red clover produces a red bud. Red clover also has hairs on the stem, and white clover does not. White clover tends to grow smaller leaves closer to the ground, while red clover will grow a bit more upright producing larger leaves. White clover also has stolons, or underground runners, which allow the plant to grow more horizontally and cover more surface area.


Perennial Ryegrass is another cool season grass you may see in your pasture. Perennial ryegrass can look similar to tall fescue, but the grass has a smoother, thinner leaf. Also, this grass tends to have a glossy sheen at times. This grass is less persistent than most cool-season grass, as it is less winter hardy and not very drought tolerant.


After identifying grasses in your pastures, it will be much easier to create a grazing management plan. Be sure to consider animal nutrient requirements, species and quality of pasture grasses, amount of weeds and bare soil, and stocking rates when making decisions regarding pasture management. Your local county extension agent can assist you with managing your pasture effectively.


Kelly Kramer
804 W.P. Garrigus Building
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40546-0215
(859) 257-7512


Northern Kentucky Pasture Walk Contacts:
Don Sorrell (Campbell)
(859) 572-2600


Daniel Allen (Kenton)
(859) 356-3155


Michael Mann (Pendleton)
(859) 654-3395


Chris Ammerman (Grant)
(859) 824-3355


Jerry Brown (Boone)
(859) 586-6101


Western Kentucky Pasture Walk Contacts:
Curt Judy (Todd)
(270) 265-5659


Jay Stone (Christian)
(270) 886-6328 X110