Conference to aid livestock producers in pasture improvement

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Livestock producers from across the Corn Belt can learn about the latest grazing and pasture management techniques at the Heart of America Grazing Conference, Jan. 25-26 in Mount Vernon, Ill.

The conference, sponsored in part by Ohio State University Extension and Purdue Extension, will offer a number of sessions to help producers deal with problem areas and keep pastures in the best possible shape.

"This is a very practical, goal-oriented conference talking about current issues in grazing," said Jeff McCutcheon, Ohio State University Extension educator, and member of the Extension Beef Team. "We pull in both university experts, as well as farmers currently practicing these methods, so it's a very balanced program."

Agricultural entities from five states cooperate to plan and host the annual event. In addition to Purdue and Ohio State, Extension services from the University of Kentucky, University of Illinois and University of Missouri also are involved.

Along with Extension, event organizers include the Ohio Forage and Grassland Council, Indiana Forage Council, Illinois Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Association, Illinois Forage and Grassland Council, Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council, Kentucky Grassland Conservation Initiative, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Missouri Forage and Grassland Council, Missouri Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Each year the conference rotates annually among the five host states -- Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky and features speakers from each state concerning a wide variety of grazing topics. This year's topics include the benefits of grazing and adding clover to pastures, mob grazing, role of novel fescues, grazing for parasite prevention, use of co-products in grazing programs, dairy grazing, pasture management and cover crops.

"There are a lot of technological advancements in grazing, as well as a better understanding of the plants' and animals' response to our management of the grazing system," McCutcheon said. "Presenters will hit everything from the use of clover to the use of by-products; we'll also talk about using cover crops and mob grazing, which are two of the newer techniques out there."

Not only will farmers benefit from the university and Extension research and recommendations, but also from the interaction with other farmers and the opportunities to visit with industry professionals at the conference trade show.

"It's been a problematic year for pastures in some regards," said Keith Johnson, Purdue Extension forage specialist. "Many producers may have overgrazed and some forages survived better than others, leaving some farmers to start feeding reserved hay. Those producers who take the time to improve their pastures will reap the benefits. This particular conference will help them deal with some of the problems they've faced this year and will emphasize ways to improve grazing systems."

Before Jan. 13, registration is $35 per day or $50 for both days. After Jan. 13, rates become $45 per day or $70 for both days. Participants can find more information and register on the Web at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ajmpu/hoa

Certified Crop Adviser credits will be available.


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