Forage conferences set at four locations

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ARLINGTON, Va. — Kicking the Hay Habit: Increasing the Profitability of Virginia’s Ruminant Livestock Operations is the theme for the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council and Virginia Cooperative Extension winter forage conferences.

Hay costs, purchased or homegrown, are at record highs driven by high input costs. Producers will have an opportunity to gain an understanding and determine if kicking the hay habit and year-round grazing system makes sense for their livestock operations.

Keynote speaker

This year’s keynote speaker is Jim Gerrish of American GrazingLands Services LLC, an internationally-known expert on forage-livestock systems. He has 20 years of systems research and outreach while on the faculty at the University of Missouri, as well as 20 years of commercial cattle and sheep production on his family farm in northern Missouri.

The University of Missouri-Forage Systems Research Center rose to national prominence as a result of his research leadership. His research encompassed many aspects of plant-soil-animal interactions and provided foundation for many of the basic principles of Management Intensive Grazing.

Topics

In the morning presentation, Gerrish will cover matching your calving season to your forage resources and environment, inventorying and budgeting forages resources, selecting the right cow-type for extended grazing systems and winter grazing options.

After lunch, MGerrish will discuss the practical points on how to successfully graze winter pastures, including pasture utilization and rumen function, supplementation on winter pastures, and tools and tips for getting the job done.

Participants will also hear from Greg Halich, associate professor and extension specialist, agricultural economics, University of Kentucky, and J.B. Daniel, forage and grassland agronomist, USDA-NRCS.

Halich will provide famers with knowledge of profitability differences of grazing systems including spring versus fall calving and the cost of grazing verses making and feeding haying. Daniel will help farmers understand how to plan and develop farm infrastructure to support grazing systems and the details of NRCS/costs- share programs.

This year, VFGC will also feature local livestock producers at each workshop site to discuss “How I’ve extended the grazing season on my farm?” These producers will provide conference participants with insight on the challenges and benefits of implementing grazing systems that reduce the need for conserved forage.

Locations

The daylong conference will be repeated at four locations:

Jan. 22, Warren County Community Center, Front Royal.

Jan. 23, Weyers Cave Community Center. Weyers Cave.

Jan. 24, Wytheville Meeting Center, Wytheville.

Jan. 25, Southern Piedmont AREC, Blackstone.

The conferences will run from 8:30 am to 3:15 pm. For more information or to register for the conference, contact Margaret Kenny at 434-292-5331 or makenny@vt.edu. The $35 early registration fee must be postmarked by Jan. 3. After the New Year, the registration fee is $50 per person.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service are also sponsoring the conference.

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