Michigan State University Extension ran a two-day intensive school for livestock and dairy producers interested in learning more about grazing practices and systems September 15-16 at the Lake City Experiment Station, part of the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station. The grazing school introduced the 23 participants to grazing management practices through classroom instruction and hands-on activities.
At the conference, Jerry Lindquist, MSU Extension specialist, discussed the various forage plants found in pastures. Ben Bartlett, senior district Extension educator, presented grazing system planning; Kevin Gould, Extension educator, focused on water system planning; Rich Leep, MSU professor of crop and soil sciences, presented forage management; and Rich Ehrhardt, academic specialist, covered assessing forage availability. Jason Rowntree, MSU assistant professor of animal science, addressed research on pasture management, and Allen Williams, Tallgrass Beef Company, gave a talk on the future of grass-fed beef. Producers left with some practical tips and real-world knowledge to use in their livestock and dairy operations. Participants learned strategies to optimize their pasture’s grazing potential.
Pasture-based systems and the grass-fed livestock market are growing. The goal of the grazing school was to provide introduction material and hands-on training for new producers entering into the business. At the same time, the school aimed to provide information and training for seasoned beef producers as well. According to Dr. Rowntree, thirty percent of the school’s survey respondents indicated they plan to add 50 to 100 head of grazing livestock to their farms in the next year.