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'Life after Drought' is theme of University of Missouri grazing school

MU Extension Published on 30 August 2012

There is grass and there will be grazing at the Management-Intensive Grazing School Oct. 2-4 at the University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center (FSRC) near Brookfield, Missouri.

A panel will discuss “Life after Drought,” says Craig Roberts, MU Extension forage specialist. “As always, we cover the basics, as this is a grazing school for first-timers.”

A new addition will be demonstrations of making ammoniated forage. This technique, used in times of short feed supplies, converts low-quality forage into feed with higher protein content.

Davis says he will probably ammoniate drought-damaged cornstalks.

Usually the process involves wrapping stacked baled hay with a plastic tarp, sealing the edges and injecting anhydrous ammonia. The gas, a form of nitrogen, turns high-fiber forage into a tasty treat for cattle.

The school, taught by MU specialists and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service staff, explains how to improve pastures and boost grazing efficiency. The basics cover everything from soil nutrients to forage varieties and water systems to fence building.

Historically, the school has taught thousands of producers to use moveable electric fences to control grazing. Moving cows through smaller paddocks boosts feeding efficiency – most of the available grass and legumes are eaten instead of trampled.

“During a drought it is more important than ever to not waste feed,” says Dave Davis, superintendent of MU FSRC.

Highly rated by participants are talks by former grazing school graduates who come back to share their stories.

In addition to classroom talks, participants go through fencing exercises. First, they calculate how much area to fence off in the pasture to supply feed for a day. Then they build fences and turn in cattle to graze.

“That exercise is an eye-opener for beginners,” Davis says.

Participants will learn to measure dry matter content per acre available in a paddock. Then they will learn to “eyeball” a paddock to estimate available forage.

Some NRCS payments for grazing practices, such as fence and water, require attendance at a grazing school, says Mark Kennedy, NRCS state grassland conservationist.

Fee for the three-day school is $250 per person or $375 per couple. The fee includes a Missouri Grazing Manual, teaching materials, three lunches and two dinners. Applications are accepted first-come, with a limit of 50.

Apply to Joetta Roberts, Box 225, Missouri Forage and Grassland Council, 2000 E. Broadway, Columbia, MO 65201. Call mornings at (573) 499-0886 or email anytime.

Click here to download a brochure – look for the link to "2012 Linneus Grazing School Brochure."  FG

—From MU Extension news release