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
Extension Beef Cattle Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-2853 Fax: (859) 257-3412
Randy Haas, owner and operator of Flagg Springs Ranch, runs a stocker operation on over 500 acres in Campbell County. Feeder cattle are purchased in the fall and early winter and sold once they reach 800-900 pounds. Randy has been working to improve his farm and practices over the years with assistance from local county Extension and NRCS cost share programs. Not only has the farm become more productive and capable of producing higher performing livestock, but it has also greatly increased environmental preservation on the property.
With help from these programs, Randy has implemented practices to reduce ground water contamination and soil erosion. In the past, cattle had direct access to ponds and creeks. Not only does allowing direct access increase surface and ground water contamination, but Randy had the problem of supplying water in the hot, dry summer months as these water sources would often dry up during these times. Since starting his improvements of the farm, the five existing ponds have been cleaned out and fenced and four new ponds have been dug. Water is now delivered to the cattle through underground pipes using gravity flow from ponds and is available in every pasture. A creek crossing was added to reduce water contamination and erosion of creek banks. Filter fabric has been installed in all high traffic areas which has greatly decreased erosion.
This farm, along with many others in the area, has a unique topography. Managing the steep slopes is a challenge that local producers face. Flagg Springs Ranch averages a 20-25% slope on the majority of pastures and many deep gullies run through the farm. This makes equipment use for seeding or clipping pastures difficult. It is also important to keep a thick stand on theses slopes to reduce erosion and loss of top soil.
There are currently 15 paddocks on the farm. 40-50 head are usually on a pasture at a time and are moved weekly depending on forage availability and season. Some paddocks are utilized strictly for hay, some for both hay and grazing, and others are dedicated just for grazing. Randy grazes a large variety of forages to ensure that cattle are supplied with high quality feed throughout the year. Cool-season grasses and legumes include red and white clover, orchardgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and tall fescue. Stockpiled tall fescue is utilized for winter grazing. Native warm-season grasses have been seeded into five paddocks for summer forage include big bluestem, little bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, and eastern gamagrass. Because native warm-season grasses are difficult to establish, Randy explained that part of the reason he was able to use native grasses was that he had enough land and paddocks to give these grasses a significant establishment period. Having a large range of forages available has increased forage and cattle production throughout the grazing season.
Flagg Springs Ranch has made drastic improvements over the years. The farm has shown steady progress into becoming what it is today. Randy stresses that he would not have been able to do this without the support and aid of the county Extension programs and the NRCS. For more information on cost share programs contact, your local NRCS and/or extension office.
Preparing for fall and winter