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Grazing Conference


January 21-22, 2009
    Holiday Inn

 Columbus, Indiana
On behalf of the Heart of America Grazing Conference planning committee, we would
like to welcome you to the 8th annual Heart of America Grazing Conference. Special
thanks to all sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, moderators and conference committee for
their many contributions and dedication to the grazing and forage industry.

We thank each of you for your attendance and support of this conference. You are
encouraged to engage in idea sharing, lively discussion and even disagreement in an
effort to further your knowledge and skills related to grazing and forage management. It
is the program committee’s hope you will leave with new ideas, techniques, references
and contacts to utilize in improving your operation.

Mark your calendar for January 20th and 21st, 2010 and plan to attend the 9th Heart of
America Grazing Conference in Wilmington, Ohio.

Best wishes for an outstanding grazing year in 2009,

Brad Shelton and Jason Tower
2009 Heart of America Grazing Conference Program Chairmen
                     Heart of America Grazing Conference
                                 January 21 – 22, 2009
                                     Holiday Inn
                                  Columbus, Indiana

January 21
    4:00 – 6:15 pm   Registration/ Silent Auction and Visit Trade Show
    6:30             Welcome and Introductions – Mr. Brad Shelton, Committee Co-Chairman
    7:15 – 7:45      Dr. Keith Johnson, Purdue Extension Forage Specialist
                     “Welcome to Indiana”
    7:45 – 8:45      Joel Salatin, Owner of Polyface, Inc., Swoope, VA
                     “What is Polyface, Inc.?”

January 22
    7:00 – 8:00 am   Registration and Refreshments/Visit Silent Auction and Trade Show
    8:00 – 8:10      Welcome and Introductions – Mr. Jason Tower, Committee Co-Chairman
    8:00 – 8:20      Patriotic Tribute – Dr. Garry Lacefield, University of Kentucky
    8:20 – 9:30      Drs. Ray Smith and Garry Lacefield, Forage Extension Specialists,
                     University of Kentucky
                     “Understanding Forage Growth and Development of Grasses and Legumes”
    9:30 – 10:00     Break – Visit Trade Show and Silent Auction
    10:00 – 10:45    Joel Salatin, Polyface, Inc.
                     “Ultra-high Stock Density Grazing”
    10:45 – 11:00    Break – Visit Trade Show and Silent Auction
    11:00 – 12:00 pm Choose one topic:
                     Robert Zupancic and Susannah Hinds, NRCS Grazingland
                     “Getting Started in Management-intensive Grazing”
                     Charlie Carter, Carterly Farms, Thorntown, IN
                     “Keeping Management-intensive Grazing Going”
    12:00 – 1:00     Lunch
                     Visit Trade Show/Silent Auction Announcements
    1:00 – 2:15      Breakout Sessions 1, 2, 3, or 4 (repeated twice- see below)
    2:15 – 2:45      Break – visit with exhibitors
    2:45 – 4:00      Breakout Sessions 1, 2, 3, or 4
    4:00             Adjourn – turn in evaluations

Breakout Session 1   Joel Salatin, Polyface, Inc.
                      “Marketing Your Farm-raised Products”
Breakout Session 2   Dr. Lori Unruh Snyder, Purdue University, Department of Agronomy
                     “Forages for Meat Goats and Sheep”
                     Dr. Mike Neary, Purdue University, Extension Small Ruminant Specialist
                     “Using Sheep and Goats in a Grazing Environment: Animal Management”
Breakout Session 3   Dave Nuhring, Grazing Systems Supply, Batesville, IN
                     “Economic Flexibility in Grazing Stockers and Replacement Dairy Heifers”
Breakout Session 4   Roger Robinson, Robinson Farms, Orleans, IN
                     Brett Glick, Brothers Beef, Columbus, IN
                      “Alternative Annual Forages in Our Grazing Operations”

                             Heart of America Grazing Conference
                                               January 21 – 22, 2009
                                                   Holiday Inn
                                                Columbus, Indiana

                                             TABLE OF CONTENTS
Grazing Conference Committee
Trade Show Exhibitors
Indiana – A Place Where Opportunities for Forages and Living Abound...............................9
     Dr. Keith Johnson, Purdue University, Forage Extension Specialist
Understanding Forage Growth and Development of Grasses & Legumes ............................13
    Drs. Ray Smith and Garry Lacefield, University of KY, Forage Extension Specialists
Tall Grass Mob Stocking (Original manuscript for Acres USA).......................................................21
       Joel Salatin, Polyface, Inc.
Getting Started with Management-Intensive Grazing .............................................................27
Susannah Hinds and Robert Zupancic, Grazing Specialists, Indiana NRCS
Keeping Management-Intensive Grazing Going.......................................................................33
    Charlie Carter, Carterly Farms, Thorntown, IN
Marketing Your Farm-Raised Products....................................................................................37
    Joel Salatin, Polyface, Inc.
Forages for Meat Goats and Sheep ...........................................................................................39
    Dr. Lori Snyder, Purdue University, Department of Agronomy
Using Sheep and Goats in a Grazing Environment: Animal Management ...........................45
     Dr. Mike Neary, Purdue University, Extension Small Ruminant Specialist
Economic Flexibility in Grazing Stockers and Replacement Dairy Heifers .........................57
    Dave Nuhring, Grazing Systems Supply, Batesville, IN
Alternative Annual Forages in Our Grazing Operations .......................................................55
     Roger Robinson, Robinson Farms, Orleans, IN
     Brett Glick, Brothers Beef, Columbus, IN
High Quality Forage Production and High Yield, is it Really Fuel Versus Food?
Any Answers Out There? ...........................................................................................................59
     Gary Letterly, University of Illinois Extension Natural Resources Management Educator
     Rebecca Arundale, University of Illinois, Department of Plant Biology

                    COMMITTEE MEMBERS
                                  Executive Committee

Ed Ballard                                      Garry D. Lacefield
Retired, University of Illinois Extension       University of Kentucky
1204 N. Long Street                             P.O. Box 469
Shelbyville, IL 62565                           Princeton, KY 42445
Phone: 217-774-4267                             Phone: 270-365-7541 Ext. 202               

Mark Kennedy                                    Brad Shelton
USDA-NRCS                                       Purdue Extension
6726 S. Highway 63                              806 Martinsburg Rd, Suite 104
Houston, MO 65483                               Salem, IN 47167
Phone: 417-967-2028 Ext. 124                    Phone: 812-883-4601              

Jeff McCutcheon
The Ohio State University
P.O. Box 1268
Mt.Vernon, Ohio 43050
Phone: 740-397-0401

2009 Program Planning Committee Members

Dave Forgey                                     Susannah Hinds
Forgey’s River-View Farm                        USDA-NRCS
6032 W Georgetown Rd                            1812 Troxel Drive, Suite B
Logansport, IN 46947                            Lafayette, IN 47909
Ed Heckman                                      (765) 474-9992
Purdue Extension – Retired            
29183 N Duck Creek Ave
Atlanta, IN 46031                               Keith Johnson                              Purdue University
                                                915 W State Street
                                                W. Lafayette, IN 47907
                                                Phone: 765-494-4800

Brad Shelton                     Jason Tower
Purdue Extension                 Southern Indiana Purdue Ag Center
806 Martinsburg Rd, 104          11371 E Purdue Farm Rd
Salem, IN 47167                  Dubois, IN 47257
Phone: 812-883-4601              Phone: 812-678-4427    

Victor Shelton                   Robert Zupancic
USDA-NRCS                        USDA-NRCS
2017 Hart Street                 2600 N State Hwy 7
Vincennes, IN 47591              North Vernon, IN 47265
Phone: 812-882-8210              Phone: 812-346-3411

            2009 Heart of America
             Grazing Conference
Indiana Forage Council
Indiana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative
Missouri Forage and Grassland Council/GLCI Coalition
NCR-SARE Program
Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service
The Ohio State University Extension
University of Illinois Extension
University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service
University of Missouri Extension
USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service

     Missouri Forage & Grassland Council/GLCI
                Indiana NRCS/GLCI

               BREAK SPONSORS
                 Allied Seed, LLC
               Ampac Seed Company
                Anderson Machinery
                    Byron Seeds
               The CISCO Companies
                   Prairie Farms
       Milk Promotion Services of Indiana, Inc.

                               Heart of America
                              Grazing Conference


Michael Bandy                                Ron Atherton
American Forage and Grassland Council        Agri-King
350 S. Poplar                                PO Box 208
Elmhurst, IL 60126                           Fulton, IL 61252
(800) 944-2342                               (800) 435-9560                                           

Bob Joehl                                    Bill Bracy
AgTeam Professionals                         Allied Seed, LLC
11915 Riley Drive Unit 2                     4156 Yeargan Rd.
Zionsville, IN 46077                         Murfreesbono, TN 37128
(317) 409-8214                               (615) 217-4977                 

Aaron Kuenzi                                 Dennis Brown
Ampac Seed                                   Byron Seeds
PO Box 318                                   2977 S. Huntsville Rd.
Tangent, OR 97389                            Winchester , IN 47394
(541) 928-1661                     

Roger Valentine                              Jake Stinson
Caudill Seed Company, Inc.                   CPC Commodities, LLC
1271 Wildwood Ct.                            98 Celsor Rd.
North Vernon, IN 47265                       Fountain Run, KY 42133
(866) 715-4448                               (270) 670-2917

Gary Letterly                          Risa Demasi
Dudley Smith Research Initiative       Grassland Oregon (Sucraseed)
University of Illinois                 4455 60th Ave. NE
1120 N. Webster St.                    Salem, OR 97305
Taylorville, IL 62568                  (503) 566-9900
(217) 287-7246                       

Clay Nuhring                           Gary Schwank
Grazing Systems Supply                 K Line Irrigation
1338 E CR 1100 N                       4270 Hollywood Rd.
Batesville, IN 47006                   St. Joseph, MI 49085
(812) 812-934-4474                     (269) 429-3000         

Bernie McNamara                        John Carpenter
Mix 30 Agridyne                        Pennington Seed
PO Box 7510                            205 Helena Lane
Springfield, IL 62791                  Madison, MS 39110                    (706) 474-2801                

Gary Duncan                            Aaron Elison
PowerFlex Fence                        Redmond Minerals, Inc.
5454 Hwy F                             6005 N 100 W,
Hartville, MO 65667                    PO Box 219
(417) 741-1230                         Redmond, UT 84652                (866) 735-7258       

Bill Talley                            R. Rinell Vincent
Summit Seed Coatings                   Taurus Service, Inc.
10100 S Jefferson                      PO Box 164
Princeton, KY 42445                    Mehoopany, PA 18629
(270) 365-6133                         (570) 833-5123     

Steven Houghton                                   Shannon Zezula
The CISCO Companies                               USDA NRCS-GLCI
602 N Shortridge Rd.                              6013 Lakeside Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46219                            Indianapolis, IN 46278
(317) 357-7013                                    (317) 290-3200 ext 388           

Greg Preston                                      Toby Jordan
USDA NASS IN Field Office                         Waukaru Farms, Inc.
1435 Win Hentschel Blvd.                          7577 S 210 E
Ste. 110                                          Rensselaer, IN 47978
West Lafayette, IN 47906                          (219) 866-3513
(765) 494-8371                                     

Jeff Leininger                                    Monte Swank
Intervet/Schering Plough                          Anderson Machinery
12039 Douglas Rd.                                 2980 W Fenner Rd
Mishawaka, IN 46545                               Troy, OH 45737
574-255-5477                                      937-339-5197                            

Keith Johnson                                     Rick Sessions
Indiana Forage Council                            Gallagher
915 W State St.                                   130 W 23rd Ave, PO Box 7506
West Lafayette, IN 47907                          North Kansas City, MO 64116
765-494-4800                                      317-313-6486                     

      Indiana – A Place Where Opportunities
          for Forages and Living Abound
                                  Dr. Keith D. Johnson
                               Forage Extension Specialist
                                   Purdue University
Developing an appreciation for forages
I have had the privilege of living in Indiana since August 1976. I came to Indiana from
Nebraska with a desire to further my understanding of agronomy. My graduate student
appointment at Purdue University initially was as a teaching assistant. I was actively
involved with the laboratory of the beginning agronomy course under the tutelage of Dr.
Jim Vorst. It was a time of many new beginnings in my personal and professional life.

Upon my arrival, I had no vision of what my research area would be other than my first
interest was the broad area of crop production. Dr. Vic Lechtenberg, a native Nebraskan,
working in the area of forage production and utilization, was looking for someone to take
on a research project that had as its objective the introduction of legumes into established
tall fescue pastures. I accepted this as my first real field research endeavor. After the
completion of the Master of Science degree, I opted to stay at Purdue University and
began to investigate fertility effects upon tall fescue growth, both above and below
ground; the latter was the greater challenge. My decision to continue with a Ph.D. at
Purdue University was not automatic. I reviewed job opportunities with agribusiness and
had not totally given up on going back to production agriculture as a farmer in Nebraska.
I recall a day in 1979 while enjoying a visit back in the home state that my Dad brought
out a spiral notebook that he kept with a year on each line of a sheet of paper and the
accompanying profit earned in each of the 34 years he had farmed. The “roller coaster
ride” was in the black, but the hills and valleys of the ride were many. From that day with
the encounter with the spiral notebook I had an even deeper appreciation of those that
begin the process of feeding a nation within and outside of its borders. It also was the
prompt that brought me back to Indiana to pursue the Ph.D. degree.

My strong interest in forages actually began at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an
undergraduate student majoring in agronomy and animal science. Dr Lowell Moser,
instructor for a forages course, asked if I would be a laboratory teaching assistant when I
was a senior at the university. The experience was enjoyable and it was rare for an
undergraduate to have the responsibility of teaching other undergraduate students close to
their own age.

With the Ph.D. degree close to completion I began to pursue “life after graduate school”
during the fall of 1980. I accepted the offer to interview for a soybean production position
with the South Central Station that is associated with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
When I returned to Indiana from Nebraska, I was invited to interview for a forage
position at Purdue. An assistant professor job was offered by both universities. I
struggled with the decision for a couple of days. The allure to go back to Nebraska to be
closer to family and friends was real and would have been a great perk, but doing work

with soybean at a branch station was determined by me to not be my calling. Since May
of 1981 I have had the pleasure of being the Forage Extension Specialist at Purdue

Some things learned through 28 years
Time has gone by quickly. I have never been bored with my professional life’s choice of
working with forages. A great joy is the opportunity of working with and answering
questions about many diverse forage species; from corn residues to high quality alfalfa as
livestock feed, from summer-annual grasses like brown midrib sorghum-sudangrass to
perennial legumes like birdsfoot trefoil, from cover crops to biofuel crops; from
producing to marketing the crop; from grazing to making hay. Working day-to-day with
only one crop would not be as rewarding or as mind stimulating to me.

I have learned to appreciate Indiana. What history I have learned about this state is
through travel, conversation with others and textbooks that my fourth grade children
occasionally brought home from school. Indiana is aptly named the “Crossroads of
America” because many canals, railroads and highways have made their imprint upon the

And what a diversity of landscape there is in this state that is hard not to enjoy! I recall
my first research project travel to southern Indiana as a graduate student and was
enthralled with the rolling terrain that was covered with forage and timber. The effects of
glaciers in Indiana’s far past gave us soils that have the ability to produce 220 bushels per
acre of corn, and where the glaciers did not reach some of the best hardwood timber in
the United States of America. Soil associations and soil types are so numerous that
graphic maps of Indiana can be very colorful, and the view from the sky is quite
interesting. What a contrast for the smallest state located west of the Appalachian

Weather and climate give Hoosiers much to talk about. The progression of winter to
spring happens more quickly and the arrival of real winter weather arrives more slowly in
southern Indiana; said another way, the growing season is longer in southern Indiana.
Relative humidity levels are higher in southern Indiana, too. More often than not, Indiana
is blessed with adequate rainfall to grow most crops without need for irrigation.
Stockpiling forage in a rotational grazing program works well most years, because
adequate moisture and length of growing season permits respectful fall forage growth.
High rainfall events or persistent wet weather many times are as frustrating as times when
too dry of weather persists during the summer. One of the challenges of being a livestock
producer in Indiana is dealing with muddy conditions especially during the winter

The contrasting soils and differences in climate permit a wide array of crops to be grown
and cropping systems to be utilized in Indiana. Yes, corn and soybean occupy the greatest
percent of the landscape, but winter wheat, forages of varying types and timber occupy
thousands of acres, too. High value crops such as melons, apples, tomatoes, grapes, sweet
corn, popcorn, mint and others diversify the landscape and add to the economic well
being of many in the state. Double cropping wheat and soybean is common in southern

Indiana and statewide many diverse crops can be grown following winter wheat grain
harvest for forage purposes.

Livestock number as a whole have declined during my time in Indiana, but the products
produced have been done with improved efficiency, greater amount per animal, or with
enhanced quality. A trivia point that may not be known by even agriculturalists, let alone
the general public, is that Indiana is the top state in duck production. Goats have carved a
spot into Indiana livestock production in the last decade and likely will remain into the
future. The horse industry’s contribution to the state’s economy has been documented
and issues of the horse industry when they do occur are not regarded as trivial.

My interaction among the people of Indiana has been an interesting and rewarding
experience. I could write many short stories of job-related events that would result in
different responses; laughter, tears with joy, tears with sadness, disbelief, affirmation and
many others. My professional experiences have suggested to me, and I offer to you for
your reflection the following statements.

   •   Children need to be a focus. They are the future.

   •   How people respond to issues is a bell-shaped curve. There is a percentage of the
       clientele that will never believe or adopt the best management practice being

   •   The length of “trip” to solve problems is longer for some than others.

   •   Some questions can’t be simply answered “Yes” or “No”.

   •   Personalities among people differ and need to be recognized as you strive to help
       them or to be an effective team member.

   •   What you see at 5’10” (my height) is different than what you see at 1” (eye at
       ground level).

   •   Communication with clarity is a real skill and I haven’t mastered it yet.

   •   Looks of an individual can be deceiving.

   •   Procedural order matters. If you do things in a non-systematic way, you will
       likely fail with your objective.

   •   Attitude matters in getting any job done.

           Understanding Forage Growth and
           Development of Grasses & Legumes
                        Drs. Ray Smith and Garry Lacefield
                            Forage Extension Specialists
                              University of Kentucky

All plants are living (breathing) organisms. Many biological processes and reactions
are occurring at all times during the life of plants. The two most important processes
are photosynthesis (food making) and respiration (food using). Photosynthesis and
respiration are affected by many environmental conditions, especially light intensity
and temperature.

Photosynthesis is considered the most important chemical reaction in the world.
Synthesis (to make) and photo (light) in its simplest definition is to make food in the
presence of light. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in the chloroplast of plant cells
where this important reaction occurs (Figure 1). During this process, light and
chlorophyll converts carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen. The sugars are
temporarily stored as starch or other complex carbohydrates, which can be considered
a chemical form of storage of the sun’s energy. Since light is required, photosynthesis
only occurs during daylight hours.

Respiration is a basic definition of life. All living beings (plant-animal-humans)
respire. Respiration is the food or energy using process and is basically the reverse of
photosynthesis (Figure 2). Aerobic respiration occurs in the presence of oxygen and
anaerobic without oxygen. Respiration occurs both during the day and at night.
The respiration rate is influenced by many factors but most importantly by
temperature. In normal growing plants, photosynthesis exceeds respiration during the
day resulting in the accumulation of sugar and starches. This process whereby
photosynthesis exceeds respiration is responsible for normal growth and development
in plants.

Nitrogen Fixation
The ability of legumes to obtain N from the air is the result of a symbiotic (mutually
beneficial) relationship of legume plants and a group of bacteria called Rhizobium.
The bacteria infect the roots of legume plants from which they obtain food, and the
bacteria help the plants by obtaining N from soil air and “fixing” it in a form usable
by the plants. The N is accumulated in small appendages called “nodules” which
form on the roots of legume plants.

The total amount of N fixed per acre per year varies greatly. Nitrogen fixation is
influenced by many factors, including temperature, rainfall, soil fertility, amount of
shading, and legume species. Nitrogen fixed by legume species varies. The usual
figures (lb/A/year) reported have often been 50 to well over 100 for annual clovers;
100 to 150 for white clover and red clover; and 150 to over 200 for alfalfa.

Water Use Efficiency by Plants
Water shortage is often the major factor limiting plant growth, even when soil fertility
and temperature are favorable. Although water is a major raw material in
photosynthesis, less than 1% of the water taken up by roots is used to produce food
because most of the plant water is transpired through the leaf stomata. This is the
process of transpiration. Water escaping from leaves cool the plant and in its
movement through the plant carries minerals, sugars, and amino acids. About 300 to
over 1,000 pounds of water are used to produce a pound of dry matter (Figure 3).

Warm-season forages are generally 50% to 70% more efficient than cool-season
grasses and legumes in dry matter production per unit of water. This is especially
important considering that the major production of warm-season species occurs
during summer under high temperatures and evaporation rates. Cool-season species
(except alfalfa) make most of their growth during cooler periods of the year.

        Figure 3. Water Use Efficiency of Warm and Cool-season Perennial
                Forage Plants in Central Alabama, 2 Year Average

                                                          Water use efficiency

    Species                                               dry forage/lb of water

    Warm-Season Forages
    Coastal Bermudagrass                                         1,646
    Common Bermudagrass                                          1,240
    Sericea Lespedeza                                              945

    Cool-Season Forages
    Tall Fescue                                                  1,064
    Orchardgrass                                                 1,060
    Reed Canarygrass                                             1,005
    Ladino Clover                                                  480
    Red Clover                                                     436

    Source: Southern Forages, 1st edition, page 112

How Grasses Grow
The primary cool-season perennial pasture grasses in this region are orchardgrass,
Kentucky bluegrass, and tall fescue. When not grazed or harvested, each of these
passes through successive stages of growth in the spring: 1) leafy vegetative; 2) boot
with seed heads enclosed in leaf sheath; 3) heading when the seed heads begin to
show and, 4) bloom when pollination has occurred ( Figure 2). Since fiber and lignin
contents increase steadily beyond the vegetative stage, while percent protein and
digestibility decrease, a major goal in grazing management is to maintain these
grasses in the leafy, vegetative stage at all times. Once the spring season is past, these
grasses do not go through this series of growth stages until the next spring. Therefore,
the regrowth after each grazing period is leafy and high in quality.

The bottom leaves of the grasses, especially the taller species like orchardgrass and
tall fescue, die back due to shading and diseases as the plants grow tall. Such tall
growth also shades clover plants, making it difficult for them to compete or even
survive. As leaves mature they decrease in quality and growth rate slows. Removal of
these leaves by the grazing animal stimulates new tillers and increases the vigor of the
plants if conditions are favorable for regrowth. Legumes, such as red clover, ladino
clover, and alfalfa, also go from leafy to stemmy growth stages with the same
lowering of quality as the grasses. Except for calcium, the mineral content in these
forages decreases from the leafy to the stemmy growth stages.

Nonstructural carbohydrates and other energy reserves are produced when plants are
growing. The excess nonstructural carbohydrates are stored in roots, rhizomes,
stolons, and tillers. They provide energy and nutrients while plants are being grazed
and as they make regrowth. Reserves provide energy for persistence during drought,
periods of low or high temperatures, and for growth when conditions improve. Levels
of nonstructural carbohydrates are reduced as they are utilized for rapid plant growth,
particularly after the plants are grazed so short that little leaf area remains. As leaf
area increases, nonstructural carbohydrate reserves also increase due to the positive
balance between photosynthesis and respiration.

When leaf area on plants is low, such as after close grazing or hay making, there is
not enough energy (sugars) being produced by photosynthesis to provide for both leaf
and root development. To "stay alive" the plant uses all available energy for
producing new leaves until there is excess for root development. If the leaf area, and
indirectly the stored energy, is always low due to continuous overgrazing, the root
system is small, weak, and shallow. The deprived root system cannot provide
adequate water and nutrients which contributes to a weakening of the entire plant.

Maximum growth of forage plants generally occurs when there are enough leaves
present to intercept 90 percent of the sunlight, with less than 10 percent falling on the
soil surface below the plants. Additional leaves do not increase production due to
shading and loss of efficiency of the older lower leaves. This is the optimum time to
begin grazing.

Utilizing these principles, the goal of efficient grazing management, with the plant in
mind, is to practice grazing management which results in plant persistence plus high

yields and quality while maintaining adequate leaf area and levels of nonstructural
carbohydrates for stored energy. This means removing a major portion of the leaves
by grazing at a time when plant reserves are adequate, then allowing the plant enough
time to produce leaf area sufficient to replace the reserves utilized in the process of
making regrowth.

Perennial Forage Species for Grazing
Orchardgrass and tall fescue are tall growing, perennial, cool-season grasses.
Bluegrass is also a perennial, cool-season grass which is shorter and has finer stems
and leaves. Very close continuous grazing suppresses new growth of these grasses,
but bluegrass is less affected than the two taller growing grasses. In addition to stored
energy at the base of its tillers, bluegrass also has relatively high levels of
nonstructural carbohydrates stored in its rhizomes which serve as sources of energy
when it is grazed closely. Each of these cool-season grasses, especially bluegrass,
slows down dramatically in growth during the hot summer months.

The primary storage of nonstructural carbohydrates in orchardgrass is in the base of
its tillers. Since it is also a tall grass compared to bluegrass, a large percentage of its
tillers and their high levels of stored energy are susceptible to being removed by close
grazing. Unlike bluegrass, orchardgrass has no rhizomes and tall fescue has only very
short rhizomes for storage of energy.

Tall fescue is better able to withstand close, continuous grazing than orchardgrass. In
addition to the nonstructural carbohydrate reserves in the base of its tillers, tall fescue
has reserve energy stored in its short rhizomes. Tall fescue also has more leaves closer
(semi-prostrate) to the ground. Based on these characteristics, bluegrass can be grazed
down to 1 inch, tall fescue to 2-3 inches, and orchardgrass to 3-4 inches without
causing injury to the plants. However, each species benefits from recovery periods
following grazing to allow accumulation of leaf area and nonstructural carbohydrate
energy reserves. The cool-season species benefit from longer rest periods and from
not being grazed as closely during periods of stress such as drought or high

Light grazing pressure results in orchardgrass and tall fescue dominating bluegrass
and the clovers due primarily to shading by the two tall growing grasses. In tall
fescue-orchardgrass pasture mixtures, tall fescue can be expected to overcome the
orchardgrass. This is partly because tall fescue is adapted to a wider range of soil
moisture, temperature, and soil fertility than orchardgrass. Another factor is that
animals often overgraze the more palatable orchardgrass. Tall fescue also is better
able to withstand close grazing due to its semi-prostrate tillers and leaves. In
controlled grazing systems with adequate, but not extreme, grazing pressure,
bluegrass can often be maintained with orchardgrass and even tall fescue if soils and
climate are favorable for bluegrass.

Ladino and white Dutch clover are the same (Trifolium repens) except for size.
Ladino is a giant type while white Dutch is much smaller. These perennial legumes
have shallow root systems which make them susceptible to drought injury. They
spread by stolons which are actually stems laying on the soil surface producing roots
and leaves at each node. Since the stem (stolon) is on the soil surface rather than

upright, grazing animals remove only leaves. This is a primary reason for the high
quality of these plants and their ability to withstand close grazing.

Red clover is a perennial legume that generally persists for only one and half to three
years in Kentucky due to crown and root diseases (common seed – 1 to 1 ½ yrs,
improved varieties 2 to 3 years). It has excellent seedling vigor and develops a strong
taproot. Red clover can tolerate close grazing even on a continuous basis. Regrowth is
initiated from buds in the crown. It is an excellent companion legume with
orchardgrass and tall fescue because it grows tall enough to compete with them. It
adds to the quality and productivity of pasture and is also well suited for grazing and
for hay or silage.

When properly managed, alfalfa and alfalfa-orchardgrass mixtures provide high-
quality, high-yielding forage throughout the grazing season. Its large tap root enables
alfalfa to obtain water during dry periods when more shallow rooted plants slow down
in growth or dry up. Alfalfa needs a rest period following grazing. There are several
unique considerations when grazing alfalfa though. Do not allow livestock to remain
on the field more than 7 days (to avoid regrazing young shoots). Since plants should
be at a late bud to early bloom stage before grazing, rotational grazing is essential for
stand survival and productivity. Some producers prefer grazing alfalfa before the
bloom stage for maximum quality. It is essential though to give alfalfa a sufficient rest
period before regrazing because it stores carbohydrates (starches and sugars) in it’s
large taproot and then uses these carbohydrates for regrowth following grazing (Note:
alfalfa typically reaches the late bud to early bloom stage in 28 to 35 days). See
Figure 1 for an overview of root regrowth and root carbohydrate storage in alfalfa.

Managing alfalfa based on root carbohydrates is an important consideration during the
fall. Alfalfa stands should not be grazed during the critical fall period to allow
sufficient root carbohydrate storage before winter. This critical period is 6 weeks
before the first killing frost (normally defined in alfalfa as 24oF or below). In
Kentucky this period is considered September 15 to November 1, although it will vary
somewhat from north to south and from one year to the next. Therefore, the last
grazing for the summer should occur before September 15th, and then a final grazing
can occur after November 1. Killing frosts do not always occur on or before
November 1st, but the cooler soil temperatures during November generally prevent
enough regrowth to allow carbohydrate depletion before winter.

There are exceptions to every rule and when forage is in short supply you may decide
to take a risk and graze during the critical fall period. The following considerations
may aid in making your decision concerning fall grazing timing: 1) Older stands have
a greater chance of winter injury than younger stands; 2) If killing frosts normally
occur earlier or later than November 1 in your area then shift your critical fall period
earlier or later; and 3) Livestock producers will break the critical period rule when the
need for high quality pasture is critical and enough to offset the risk of winter injury.

If you would like early or more frequent grazing to be an option, then it is essential
that you choose a grazing tolerant variety (see KY variety test reports to choose
adapted grazing type varieties, These varieties have been
developed specifically for grazing are often able to withstand closer grazing and
require less recovery period than the traditional hay varieties. To ensure persistence

and high yields, grazing tolerant alfalfa varieties should be grazed to 3-4 inches within
five days, then given at least 21 days for recovery growth before being grazed again.
Figure 1. Alfalfa growth and root carbohydrates.

Managing mixed stand – favor alfalfa
For many hay and pasture stands of alfalfa, mixtures with grass species such as
orchardgrass is preferred. The grass adds to the nutritional balance, improves hay
curing, and helps provide a sod for hoof traffic. The common rule of thumb when
managing an legume/grass mixture is to manage for the legume. For example, with an
alfalfa/orchardgrass mixture you want the alfalfa to reach the late bud to early bloom
stage before cutting or grazing. If the grass starts to dominate the stand then closer
cutting or grazing will benefit the alfalfa since it’s regrowth energy comes from root
carbohydrates (Figure 2). If the alfalfa starts to dominate the stand, then higher cutting
or grazing height (3 to 4”, even 5”) benefits the grass since it retains sufficient green
leaf area for continued photosynthesis.

       Figure 2. Alfalfa/orchardgrass stand at two grazing heights.

The two figures shown above can be found in Roy Blaser’s classic “Forage Animal
Management Systems” available at Another excellent
publication is the “Alfalfa Management Guide” by Undersander and others available

at The
University of Kentucky’s forage website also contain a tremendous amount of forage
management information at

Ball, D.M., C.S. Hoveland, and G.D. Lacefield. 2002. Southern Forages, 4rd Edition.
       Order from PPI at

                       Tall Grass Mob Stocking
                             (Original Manuscript for Acres USA)

                                        Joel Salatin
                                       Polyface, Inc.

Most of us controlled grazing aficionados have been grazing the forage when it’s too
short. In the last few years, we switched our farm to a much taller sward and the results
are nothing short of remarkable.

Question: If you were cutting corn silage . . . Let me rephrase that, since hopefully very
few ACRES readers make corn silage. If your neighbor was cutting corn silage, how
mature would the corn be before he cut it?

Think about corn as a glorified grass. It is, you know. Would he cut it before tasseling?
Before an ear formed? Of course not. Why? Because corn silage, as a fermentation
product, needs starch for the process. Fermentation is all about sugars. And it takes time
for a grass to move from protein to sugar.

Imagine in your mind’s eye that corn plant ready for corn silage cutting. The tassels are
completely shattered. Ears are full and plump. The leaves are green, but the base of the
stalk has already turned brown, perhaps up 12-18 inches from the soil horizon. The plant
is clearly mature, not growing any more. At all.

Now imagine, in your mind’s eye, what orchardgrass, switchgrass, fescue, or bluegrass,
would look like at that same stage of maturity. Would there be a seed head? Yes. Would
it be browning down at the base of the tallest stems? Yes. Would it be too mature to
graze? No. In fact, it would be just right.

By now most farmers and officialdom—I can see you through these pages—are jumping
up to object in protest. “But, but, but, that’s too mature. Everyone knows you need to
graze early while the plant is completely succulent, like candy. And hay should be
mowed in early boot stage, before the seed head appears. “

Yes, I know, I know. I’ve heard it all before. In fact, I’ve even proclaimed it all before.
And now I believe it’s a bunch of bunk. Several years ago a neighbor asked us to rent his
farm. It was more than twice as big as ours so it moved us from our normal 200 head
mixed herd to more than 400.

Because the previous renter dilly-dallied exiting the place, we could not get fences and
water lines installed before our spring busy time. Everything had to wait until later in the
season and by the time we actually moved cattle over there, it was June. And by the time
we grazed around the last fields, it was nearly September.

You can imagine what those fields looked like. The forage was bleached brown. The
understory was full of second growth, greener grass. It was like a jungle, and nearly
impossible even to walk through. Neighbors were confident this landlord had made a
huge mistake in renting his farm to us. It looked like a wreck from the conventional
grazing mindset. No matter that these continuous-grazing neighbors, at that time of year,
had scalped their pastures to the soil level and their cows were actually losing some
weight every day, unseen to the naked eye.

We went into that jungle with a mob of 400 head, giving them a smidgen more than 1.5
acres per day. Every day we moved them to the next paddock. The grass was so rank we
had to bushhog the crossfence lines so the cows could see the fence.

In 24 hours, after being mob grazed, those paddocks had so little standing forage that a
mouse would have to pack lunch in order to get anywhere. The cows didn’t eat
everything, but what they didn’t eat, they stomped, chipped, and shredded onto the soil
surface so completely that not a stem was left standing. Oh, did I mention that this farm
had thistles? Lots and lots of thistles. Not one was left standing after this mob did their

But more interesting to us, as herdsmen, was the way the mob responded. This was no
longer a group of individuals. The mob became like a giant amoeba. When they were
hungry, not an animal mowed or bellowed. They just stood, patiently waiting for us to
move them into the next paddock. Even if it took a couple of hours to set things up, the
whole mob just waited contentedly, chewing cud, while we worked around them.

And their manure, the key to monitoring animal health, was perfect. If manure is
splattery, like sheet cake, it indicates too rich a diet, like candy bars. If it’s cookies—little
hard disks stacked up—it indicates too coarse or fibrous a diet. What you want is a
pumpkin pie—perfectly round, slightly sunken in the middle and raised on the edges.
And that’s exactly what the manure looked like. Of course, most of the pieces were
splintered and scattered by hoof action.

And the animals looked extraordinarily fat. They possessed a bloom that we were
unaccustomed to. We expected them to fall apart and were concerned about how much of
a wreck we could stand as we freshened up these rank fields. What we got was a
remarkable performance from the stock and a landscape change nothing short of

Subsequent grass growth resembled what follows an application of chicken litter. The
dark green, rich sward indicated a flush of biological activity stimulated by the infusion
of lignified carbon. We had never seen this response after grazing grass at what is
considered the appropriate length.

As it turns out, others around the world, taking controlled grazing to another permutation,
have discovered the identical response we’ve seen, from Chad Peterson in Nebraska to
Greg Judy in Missouri to Abe Collins in Vermont. The new term is Ultra High Stock

Density (UHSD) grazing, and it is definitely forming the ragged innovative edge of
controlled grazing.

The general consensus, articulated perhaps best by Terry Gompert, extension forage
specialist in Nebraska, is that bovines need starch more than protein. After all, these are
walking fermentation vats, and fermentation thrives on sugar. Pigs and chickens require
far more protein than bovines and other herbivores.

Young, vegetative, succulent, tender grass blades are high in protein and low in
carbohydrates, or energy. As the plant matures, it concentrates energy. We follow that
carefully in selecting corn maturity for good silage fermentation, but generally throw the
same principles out the window when it comes to harvesting our forages at their energy
peak. That is why I like the corn parallel. It shows easily and graphically the disconnect
between how we harvest corn compared to grass for maximum energy. But the goal is the
same. Both are feeding a fermentation process; one is inside the cow and one is outside.

These days when people ask me what I do for a living, I reply: “mob-stocking
herbivorous solar conversion lignified carbon sequestration fertilization.” Certainly not
quite as short as “organic” but definitely more apt to stimulate a lively conversation. All
we’re trying to do is mimic the grazing patterns of herbivorous herds throughout the
world. By cutting around that pattern, like a template, and placing it over our commercial
domestic production acres, we tap into all the soil building and carbon cycling principles
creating fertility in the perennial grasslands of the world.

Utilizing forages higher on the physiological expression point has increased our cow-
days per acre by up to 50 percent. In practical terms, this means grazing a given square
yard only three times per year rather than six times per year—in our climate. In a brittle
climate, it might mean grazing a paddock one time per year rather than two. The point is
that longer rests punctuated by more violent herd impact generates more solar-
accumulated biomass that can either be consumed and excreted via manure and urine, or
directly decomposed via hoof-stomp-shredding.

Rather than thinking we’ve arrived when stocking at 30,000 pounds of liveweight per
acre on a given grazing, we stock at 200,000 pounds of liveweight per acre. In order to do
that, the sward must be rested long enough to accumulate massive amounts of vegetation.
Some people, like Chad Peterson mentioned above, are moving the herd multiple times
per day in order to increase the mobbing.

Because a mob reduces individuality, it stimulates aggressive, less selective grazing
habits. The cows learn to graze with reckless abandon because whatever is on the plate
ahead of them is gone by the time they come back later. This aggressive grazing is a
primal instinct that herbivores must relearn. When we buy calves from a neighbor, the
mob is highly stressful because the only time they’ve ever been that close to other
individuals is in a corral. And normally the corral is not the place where enjoyable things

During the newcomers’ assimilation phase, it’s helpful to either reduce the mob size or
give extra space for a few days while new introductions become comfortable being close
to other individuals. Aggressive grazing soon becomes normal behavior, and this creates
two positive consequences.

First, the animals become less selective. They don’t have time to be picky about which
plants they eat. The result is more even mowing and a tremendous reduction in normally
ungrazed plants. This pushes succession of the good species ahead. Visitors to our farm
are often amazed when I tell them we have not planted a seed in 50 years. No plow, no
disk, no planter, no nothing. And yet 50 years ago we could walk the entire farm without
stepping on a plant. That much dirt was between the pasture plants. We grew thistles like
a crop, picked buckets of dewberries, and could have cultivated broomsedge seeds as a
cash crop. None of those plants can be found today in our pastures.

Second, the aggressive grazing makes the animals fill up faster. Since an herbivore only
makes meat or milk when chewing cud, we want to maximize rumination time and
minimize grazing time. The faster the animal grazes and fills its fermentation tank, the
sooner it will lie down and begin chewing cud. The mob encourages this rapid engorging
and actually makes the animal more productive.

Perhaps the most beneficial result of this ultra-high stock density is the organic matter
added to the soil via fully developed root mass that naturally occurs when a plant reaches
phenotypical maturity. Adolescent plants do not form the pounds and miles of plant
material below the soil that mature ones do. The mob shocks the plant into shedding
much of that mass to concentrate (self-prune) the energy reserves into sending forth new
shoots. The resultant flush of organic matter dwarfs even the above-ground manure and
urine load.

This pasture pulsing, very much like a heart beat, is like CPR for the soil and its myriad
inhabitants. Plants self-direct their bilateral symmetry above and below the soil horizon.
When I see that sea of waving tall forage, in my mind’s eye I see an equal sea of root
hairs loosening and feeding the soil food web. It’s a wonderful picture.

Now I know why Allan Savory and the wonderful Holistic Management folks constantly
preach herd amalgamation. A small herd (I’d say anything under 100) simply cannot
duplicate the nutrient cycling possible with a mob. And the larger the mob, the more it
synergizes all these positive elements.

Many cattle producers fear amalgamation during breeding because close relatives might
breed. But nobody is out separating males and females in wild herds. Plenty of inter-
family genetic hanky-panky goes on out there, and they seem to do okay. Nobody is
making sure the big buck that bred in western Virginia last year gets moved to Ohio so he
doesn’t breed his daughters.

Amalgamation creates significant efficiencies because every herd needs a front fence, a
back fence, a water trough and mineral box whether it’s 20 head or 500. The economies
of scale drive down infrastructure and labor costs.

The most serious negative we’ve seen in mob grazing is that it is less forgiving to the
bottom enders. In a smaller herd, lower performance animals don’t get rooted back as
much, whether for blades of grass, a spot at the water trough, or a minute at the mineral
box. But in a multi-hundred member herd, the weaker animals fall behind more
dramatically. We’ve found that if we run the herd through the corral once a month and
pull off the stragglers, placing them in a smaller herd, these animals will normally catch
right up and can eventually go back into the big mob. We view them as students needing
some remedial education, perhaps a tutorial to catch up.

Of course, running a multi-hundred member mob creates new pressure on water systems.
It’s one thing to deliver water to a Rubbermaid tank for 100 head on a hot July afternoon.
It’s quite another thing to deliver water to 500 head on that same afternoon. Upsizing
piping, pumping, and using full flow valves is essential to an efficacious water delivery
system. We now use inch and a quarter trunk lines and a 300 gallon Rubbermaid tank
spliced by the cross fence. That way about 5 animals can drink at a time and the bigger
tank holds more reserve. The mob, being always close to water, drinks intermittently
rather than as a group.

Moving in to the next paddock can be a challenge with such a big group, as well. Rather
than just opening a cross fence back to the first portable post and letting the herd file
ahead, we use one of the following techniques. Often we go to the reel end and roll up the
front fence as fast as we can walk to let the mob flood forward behind us. The key is to
roll up wire fast enough to stay ahead of the first comers, who inevitably turn into the
paddock. If you don’t stay ahead of them, the late comers will turn around and run along
in their old paddock all the way to the handle end of the old front fence (now the back

The other technique, which we use regularly, is to take a bluff fence (nonelectrified,
highly visible polytape, for example) and make a 50-yard long by 15-20-yard wide alley
into the new paddock. When I open the gate handle end, I pull it around to the alley and
this keeps the flow of the mob going forward rather than doubling back into the center of
the new paddock and causing the same problem mentioned above—late-comers running
along the old side of the front fence and unable to get into the new paddock. This alley
technique only takes about 10 minutes to construct, but saves countless hours in moving

One obvious exception to all of this taller grass grazing is early spring, before the grass
has time to grow enough. Few models enjoy perfect implementation. The single most
profit-affecting act in cattle rearing is to minimize feeding stored feedstuffs. The less hay
we feed, the more profitable the operation. This goal overrides everything in the spring,
and we begin grazing as soon as the blades are long enough to eat. Huge paddocks;
extremely light stocking; fast moves; cover half the acreage in three weeks.

But we try to not do this on the same paddocks every year. And the paddocks we graze
too early usually become the winter stockpiled areas. What we take away at one time we
give back at another time of the year. The point is to be aware when we cheat, and give
back extra on those areas later on. Everything should submit to lower hay feeding.

I used to fret about getting the late spring flush grazed in time to make sure it was freshly
regrown for mid-summer. Now I don’t worry about that. If I don’t get to it and it
practically turns into brown standing hay, so what. The mob will eat half of it and stomp
the other half into the ground. Nature fertilizes the soil with lignified carbon, not green
vegetable matter. Leaves don’t fall when they’re green; they fall when they’re brown and
stiff. Grass doesn’t lodge when it’s green; it falls over when it’s brown and brittle.
Nature feeds soil with mature, lignified carbon that places meals on top, not knifed in or
plowed in.

This taller grass grazing frees me from feeling like I just have to get on that paddock
before it gets over-mature. Instead, I just restrict the mob tighter and tighter and let it do
its magic. A visitor to our farm in June will often see 80 head on a quarter acre for a day.
Animals respond beautifully to this management because it simulates the million-head,
wolf-surrounded mob of yesteryear.

I am convinced that most controlled grazing, historically, has been touching paddocks too
frequently on too short a forage sward. By reducing the grazings and letting the sward
accumulate more biomass in a more mature state, all parties at the grazing table win:
earthworms, cattle, and farmer. Here’s to the next level.

  Getting Started with Management-Intensive
                       Susannah Hinds and Robert Zupancic
                                Grazing Specialists
              Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Management-intensive grazing (MIG) is a strategy that provides control of grazing
animals, emphasizing the intensive management of multiple paddocks. It consists of the
art and science of management based on your available resources (land, animals, soils,
topography, money, time, etc). The science can be attained by attending meetings like
this, talking to other professionals or reading reliable sources of information. The art
comes from your use of the knowledge gained and those resources available.

There are a few main concepts that MIG concentrates upon. One is the concept of rest.
Rotating animals among multiple paddocks means that they are only in one paddock at
any one time. This means that all of the other paddocks are resting and not being grazed.
Another concept is residue. Since animals are going to be in smaller paddocks we will
have higher stocking densities (number of animals per acre of land) which should result
in more even stubble heights. This allows us to use that stubble height as a reference for
when animals need to be moved to another paddock. If animals are moved when residue
levels are higher, grasses can recover more quickly and production is subsequently
increased. Finally, the intent is to have the animals do the majority of the work. Grazing
animals are designed to eat forage, and efficiently process it as feed. They are mobile
and can get to areas that equipment cannot. As long as we provide them with adequate
water and the most nutritious vegetation they should be able to do the work of harvesting.

Applying these concepts will provide many benefits to you and your farm.


To The Land
Management-intensive grazing increases the stocking density. This increased
competition reduces selectivity of grazing, thereby increasing forage species diversity in
a paddock. The practice of leaving more residue means less water runoff and more
infiltration. There is also less erosion because the soil is protected by the increased plant
roots and the leaves themselves dissipate the energy of the falling rain. Soil temperatures
are cooler because the soil is shaded resulting in more water retention longer into the
season. By managing stubble heights you will avoid letting the forage go to seed and
maintain higher quality forage and more forage production. You will have better water
quality because the denser stand of forage will trap more sediment and nutrients. Animal
waste and its associated nutrients will be more evenly distributed among the paddocks to
be used by the plants for production.

By having the animals do more of the work you are reducing the use of mechanical
equipment, therefore using less fuel and reducing emissions into the atmosphere. Fewer
passes of equipment result in less compaction of the soil.

To The Animal
The benefits of MIG to the animal are vast. In a dairy operation, feet problems disappear
as a result of taking the animal off of concrete. Longevity of animals and, therefore, the
number of offspring increases resulting in a more sustainable herd. Calving percentage is
enhanced and fly problems are reduced. Once the animals realize that the grass really is
greener on the other side of the fence, they will become much easier to move and save
you time in the end. There has been research to prove that animals respond positively to
quiet handling methods; not only is disposition improved but so is meat quality. Rotating
paddocks will result in more production of forage allowing you to extend the grazing
season, again letting the animals do more of the work

To You
By having the animals harvest their own feed during the growing season you are reducing
your labor costs and increasing your profit. Costs associated with harvesting forage as
hay and then feeding that hay are reduced because the animals are doing more of the
work. Less equipment use and fuel costs as well as less maintenance of that equipment
means more money left in your pocket. Any time a wheel is turning or a motor is
running you are spending money; grazing animals reduce those costs. If you are
spending less time on equipment, you will have more free time to tackle other chores or
to spend with your family. Also, literally having greener pastures is more aesthetically
pleasing to your non-agricultural neighbors. This idyllic view of green grass and grazing
animals is a positive image in the consumer’s mind.

Remember to keep in mind the key concepts of management-intensive grazing and the
benefits that will result in applying them.

   •   Provide rest to paddocks for recovery of vegetation

   •   Maintain residue for rapid regrowth

   •   Let the animals do the work

Getting started with setting up the MIG system
The keys to a successful MIG system are to keep the livestock moving across the farm to
adequately rest the forages for maximum regrowth and to properly fertilize pastures for
maximize growth. Water and fences facilitate making multiple paddocks (8 – 24+) to
rotate livestock every 1-4 days depending upon the livestock type and time of year. In
our opinion, the watering system is typically the limiting factor of having a successful

MIG experience, therefore this discussion will center on the importance of clean, cool
water and how to deliver the water to livestock.

The importance of clean, cool water
Water is the most important ingredient for productive livestock and usually the most
difficult part of setting up a MIG system. Water intake drives feed intake; if water is
limited then the livestock aren’t going to eat the maximum amount of feed or forages.
Studies show that providing easy access to adequate water increases animal performance.
Adequate water is broken into two separate categories: quantity and quality.

Quantity of water is critical so that every animal in the herd gets their daily water
requirements to maximize feed intake. Critical things to think about are gallons per head,
available drinking space, and the walking distance between grazing areas and watering
sites. Volume of water per day is going to depend upon livestock type, size, time of year,
daily temperatures, humidity, lactating/non-lactating, etc. In the spring and fall animals
will get a considerable amount of their water requirements from the forages they are
eating. In July and August animals could require as much as 30 gallons per 1,000 pounds
body weight per day, especially if the food source is dry. Adequate drinking space is
critical if the animals come to water as a herd instead of in small groups. If they come as
a herd then the last ones to drink need to be able to get their fill before the lead animals
leave to go back to grazing. The greater the walking distance from the grazing area to the
water sites, the more likely the animals will water as a herd instead of small groups.
Distance to water also effects forage utilization and efficiency because the livestock
typically overgraze the areas close and undergraze the areas farthest from the waterer.

Quality of the water is just as important as the quantity and is probably the most
overlooked component of a grazing system. Poor quality factors such as excessive
sediment and algae are easy to recognize. Less recognizable factors are taste,
temperature, excessive nutrients and microorganisms. If the water tastes poor then the
livestock are not going to drink as much as if it tastes good. Studies have shown that
water intake is significantly reduced when the water is warmer than 80 degrees and
colder than 45 degrees. How many of you have livestock drinking out of a pond or
stream in August that is likely warmer than 80 degrees? Put yourself in the livestock’s
hooves and ask if you would drink a full amount of the water being offered to them.

Providing adequate water to each paddock
Delivering high quality water into each paddock starts with asking a series of questions
and then determining the best options to address the questions.

What source of water is available? Pond, spring, well, rural water
Springs and wells typically have the highest water quality, but can be very limiting on
quantity certain times of the year. Ponds are highly variable on quantity and quality
depending upon the overall size, depth, watershed size, depth water is drawn from, etc.
Rural water is typically high quality with unlimited quantity, but can become very cost
prohibitive if a large quantity is required or if the system has a leak.

Where is the water source located in relation to the watering points? Uphill,
downhill, distance
If the waterer is located downhill then gravity will move the water and eliminate the
expense of pumps, pressure tanks, and electric line. If the waterer is uphill then some
type of power source will be required to move the water. The most common power
source is electric pumps, but many producers have successfully used gas-powered pumps,
RAM hydraulic pumps, solar power, wind power, and nose pumps. Distance plays a key
factor in how big of pipe is required and how much power is required to pump the water.
As distance and head (elevation uphill) increase then the pipe needs to be sized larger to
overcome friction inside the pipe and the pump will have to be bigger to overcome the
weight of the water in the pipe.

Pipe inside diameter and distances have a huge impact on how much water can be
delivered to a certain place at a given time. Table 1 illustrates the capacity of various
pipe sizes at different heads (elevation of water above the pressure switch) and distances.

Table 1. Capacity of different sized pipes
     Pipe Size                       Capacity of the pipe (gallons per minute)
 Inside Diameter                            [assumes 40 PSI at the pump]
      (inches)                  10 feet of head                       50 feet of head
                         500 ft pipe     2,000 ft pipe        500 ft pipe      2,000 ft pipe
        0.75                 4.9               2.4                3.3               1.6
        1.00                10.5               5.2                7.1               3.5
        1.25                19.1               9.5               12.8               6.4
Typical gallons per minute requirements for cow/calf pairs drinking 4 times per day.
        10 cow/calf pairs = 1.5 gpm              50 cow/calf pairs = 7.5 gpm
This table is for comparison purposes only; please consult a professional to determine actual
pipe carrying capacity and livestock water requirements.

How many animals and what is the average size?
The average size of the animals and the number determines how much water needs to be
delivered to the waterer at any one time. Indiana NRCS uses a value of 30 gallons water
per 1,000 pounds live weight per day based upon some studies that were done in the state
during the summer. This amount of water is typically only required during the hottest
times of the year, but the watering system should be able to provide adequate amounts of
water during all the seasons of the year. Animals in peak lactation or growth are going to
require more water than animals that are just maintaining weight; example, a 1200-pound
cow with calf should have at least 36 gallons of water available and deliverable per day,
or a 200-pound ewe should have at least 6 gallons of water available per day.

What size of water tank or trough?
If the animals are grazing within 400-800 feet of the watering site, then the tank size can
be considerably smaller than if they are walking from a greater distance. When the
walking distance is short and all the animals can see the watering site, then the animals
tend to come in very small groups to drink. When they are walking a long distance (>800

ft) or cannot see the waterer, the whole herd will come to drink at a time. Obviously
when the whole herd comes it is going to require a larger quantity of water and more
drinking space to accommodate everyone. Typically if the watering location is close
(<800 ft), then 15 inches of space for about 1/10th of the herd is enough. This will also
help keep the tank sizes small so that the water replenishes more often and stays fresher.
Typically if the watering location is far away or not visible, then plan for 1/3 to 1/2 of the
herd drinking at one time; example, 25 cows grazing close need 18 - 24 inch diameter
tank (25 X 10% X 15 in. = 37.5 in.; 37.5 in. / 3.14 = 12-inch diameter tank); example, 25
cows grazing over 800 ft from the water or where the waterer is not visible will require a
minimum of a 40-inch diameter tank and would probably benefit from having two tanks
available (25 X 33% X 15 in. = 124 in.; 124 in. / 3.14 = 39.4-inch diameter tank).

Tank size is also going to be dependent upon how fast of a recharge rate is available to
refill the tank. In an adequately designed pressure system with unlimited supply of water
the tank should refill as fast as the animals drink and should be sized based upon drinking
spaces not volume. In the situation of a spring or low-volume well the water tank can
serve as a reservoir to store water and needs to be sized so that all the animals can get a
drink before they leave the watering site. Short walking distances help reduce the size of
the reservoir because the animals are more likely to spread their drinking out throughout
the day instead of heavy demands during short periods of time. Typically the larger the
tank the more problems there are going to be with stale water, algae growth, and
excessive temperatures.

For questions about designing or laying out a rotational or management-intensive grazing
system contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resources
Conservation Service, or Agriculture Extension Service.

  Keeping Management-Intensive Grazing Going
                                     Charlie Carter
                                     Carterly Farm
                                     Thorntown, IN

Although the subject of intensively managed grazing is more familiar and somewhat
more accepted today than fifteen years ago, the key to being a successful grazier starts in
the mind. The willingness to be different, to be criticized, and to be laughed at is a
necessary mindset for those of us who desire to see our animals creating profit by grazing
lush, well-managed forage. Just as important is our willingness to permit flexibility
within our grazing ranks to permit each grazier to experiment until he finds his unique
and profitable mix of personal preferences, natural resources, forages and animal species.
I am reminded of a verse from the Bible’s book of Romans 12:2a “Do not conform any
longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
Although this scripture is speaking from a spiritual perspective, it whispers
encouragement to us as we each break the chains of accepted thought and venture into the
frontiers of intensively managed grazing.

Carterly Farm is the continuation of a family operation begun by my parents in 1956. I
remember the cows being loosely pastured in rather large fields when the herd was only
24 to 36 cows. It was often my job to retrieve the cows from the pasture at milking time.
When my brother and I both returned to the farm in the 1970’s, pasturing the resulting 90
cow herd no longer seemed feasible. Consequently the transition was made to a
confinement operation with the cows having access to an exercise lot. This labor
intensive mode of operation with feed being hauled in and manure out was the norm after
we built a new facility in 1977. In 1988 my father retired and my brother and I decided
to no longer farm together. My wife, Margaret, and I continued to operate the
confinement system with some hired labor, but mostly our own labor. As we worked
long days building our dream, we observed our equipment wearing out, our cows not
lasting and our own bodies growing weary. We were ready for a change.

Our dairy operation was a typical 80 to 90 head confinement system with a parlor, free-
stalls, and a total mixed ration. In 1992 we started making our first trial and error
attempts at intensively managed grazing. At that time we broadcast some clover,
orchardgrass, and timothy seed onto a mature and thinning twenty-four acre alfalfa field
which we had divided into twelve paddocks. Our intent was to replace some hay in the
total mixed ration we were feeding. Our experiment that summer worked so well that we
have been adding grazing acres ever since.

Depending on the year, we now are milking from 100 to 125 mostly registered Holsteins.
A few Shorthorns and Holstein-Jersey crossbreds are also in the herd. In addition, 90 to
100 heifers are also grazed for 8-9 months each year. Our herd is calved from late
February through early May in the spring and from September through early November
in the fall. Cows that do not conceive for the desired annual calving window are bred to
conceive in the subsequent calving window. Admittedly, this procedure does slow

genetic selection for reproduction, but has allowed us to retain our highest producing
cows in the herd and provided us the opportunity to sell excess cows as breeding stock.
Spring calves are raised in a Cover-all barn in groups of six to eight and mob fed whole
milk on a barrel feeder for about six weeks. After the calves are moved out, the Cover-all
barn is used to store hay for winter feed. Fall calves are also fed whole milk for about six
weeks, but are generally raised in individual hutches rather than groups. We have noticed
that calves fed individually seem to have less of a tendency to try to nurse other calves.
Cows are milked twice per day in a double six herringbone parlor with an eleven to
thirteen hour milking interval. Cows are not fed grain in the parlor, but are fed a limited
mix of forage and grain prior to milking at the feed bunk in the free stall barn. During the
heat of the summer we typically will milk at noon and midnight. In the summer heat we
have observed that the cows usually come into the barn looking for shade during the late
morning. Rather than try to force them to stay in the pasture, we decided to change our
milking times to coincide with the times the cows came to the barn to escape the heat of
the sun. The cows are usually ready to return to fresh pasture shortly after milking is
completed. The milking herd is given a fresh break of grass after each milking. Heifers
are moved to new grass every two days.

We continue to use registered Holstein bulls from the A.I. studs. However, we
emphasize milk components, strength, strong feet and legs, and silky, well-attached
udders. We also pay close attention to the fertility scores on potential herd sires. For the
last few years we have selected young bulls from our most fertile cows to use as clean-up
sires and later we make them available for sale. We believe that offspring from grazing
cattle will themselves be more aggressive grazers. These cattle will frequently walk
away from feed in the bunk if there is fresh, high quality graze available. We have tried a
few Holstein-Jersey crossbreds. They have been very functional and excellent grazing
cattle but we doubt the udders will last for more than four lactations. We have noticed,
however, the crossbreds are easier fleshing cattle than some of the purebred Holsteins.

Most of our grazing paddocks are a mix of orchardgrass, clover and slight amounts of
timothy. Although we have twelve acres of perennial ryegrass and clover, we have found
that the orchardgrass mix produces a more steady supply of forage throughout the
summer. Every couple of years each paddock is frost seeded with two to three pounds of
clover seed to maintain a mix of grass and clover. We also still have a few paddocks of
Kentucky 31 fescue which we are reseeding after the cows trample the fescue in the
winter. We prepare paddocks for reseeding by grazing oats in the spring, sorghum-
sudangrass in the summer, and follow with oats and turnips in the fall as a regular part of
our grazing rotation. These paddocks are re-seeded to grass the following spring.

This fall, because of the lack of moisture, we grazed fourth crop alfalfa rather than
mechanically harvesting and transporting it. We have found that almost any green
growing plant is a forage source at some point in its growth cycle. For instance, we have
seen our cows graze chickweed closely and, upon checking a tissue sample, we found
that the chickweed tested over 200 RFV.

One of the challenges we face occurs when rainfall is inadequate. Because we have 120
cows and nearly 100 heifers on 225 acres, dry weather forces us to look for outside
sources of winter forage. In the dry year of 2007 we purchased over 100 tons of hay and
600 tons of corn silage. In order to stockpile a surplus supply of forage, even though we
had a very good forage producing year in 2008, we have purchased 150 tons of hay and
over 400 tons of corn silage.

Another challenge for us is winter time shelter. We have almost no natural windbreaks or
shelter. Our conventional free-stall barn is available as winter shelter and summer shade
to most of the milking herd. Dry cows and heifers are supplied winter windbreaks on the
leeward side of the barns. Muddy winter conditions are one of the most frustrating
situations we face and have us considering the value of a stand-off area or a bedded pack
facility. Winter mud is also very damaging to our paddocks and requires us to reseed
more acres than is optimal.

After several years of use our cow lanes are in need of some repair. We have converted
about 200 feet of heavily trafficked dirt lane closest to the barn to a cement lane. After
adding fill to some of the lanes, we have reshaped the crowns. With other areas of the
lanes we are trying geo-textile fabric and adding some “wash-out” material from the local
concrete plant.

We believe that measuring the financial health of our business is a key to the survival of
our business. For this reason we have been participating in the Cornell Dairy Farm
Business Summary since 2002. This tool has helped us to evaluate each year’s finances
to determine business sectors that need improvement. Milk sold per worker has ranged
from 617,436 pounds to 820,023 pounds. According to experts, this number needs to be
at least 1,000,000 pounds. Net farm income per cow is another interesting and valuable
number that we monitor via the Cornell Dairy Farm Business Summary. The report helps
us to keep track of our grain purchases as a percent of milk sales and our total cost of
producing milk per hundredweight. We also watch three other numbers on the report:
farm debt per cow, debt to asset ratio, and debt coverage ratio. Inputting numbers into
the form usually requires 12-14 hours, but I believe the information we receive is worth
every minute invested. Being profitable as a grazier is a prerequisite for the natural next
step in the life cycle of grazing.

After working in the financial markets for five years, our second daughter, Kelly,
expressed her desire to follow her heart back to our grazing operation. For the last two
and one half years she has been improving her farm management, especially her grass
management skills. Although she already owns some cows in the herd, our goal is to
more fully invest her in the herd and in the decision making aspect of our operation over
the next few years. We want to move her from a salary to a percentage of the farm risk
and income. Integrating new and younger people into the grazing business and lifestyle
must become a priority for each of us who wish to see intensively managed grazing
continued and advanced. By working alongside of the next generation as they are
introduced to grazing, we have the opportunity to share with them our experiences and
knowledge gained through our mistakes. This mutually beneficial arrangement permits

the senior member to benefit from the fresh energy and enthusiasm of the junior member.
On the flip side the junior member benefits from the experiential perspective of the senior

As you have probably experienced, having the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions
is important with intensively managed grazing. At Carterly Farm we are constantly
adapting. It seems we are always in transition. The willingness to adapt and to
communicate our experiences and thoughts is vital as we strive to improve our skills as
graziers. Even though we may differ in our blend of preferences, resources, forages, and
animals, we gain from each other as we share our common challenges and frustrations.
Even better, we are encouraged by hearing of the successes of other graziers. I look
forward to hearing of your successes.

         Marketing Your Farm-Raised Products
                                        Joel Salatin
                                       Polyface, Inc.

The primary reasons for marketing directly to retail, restaurant, or
institutional customers are:
1. You get the middleman's portion. Every step along the value chain gets a markup, and
the more of those links the farmer becomes, the more markups he enjoys.

2. You reduce income risk. The highest risk factors in farming have to do with production
vagaries: disease, price, pestilence, weather. These are the things all farmers sit around
and complain about. Marketing, distribution, and processing, however, are virtually
immune to these factors. The more income dollars the farmer receives from these lower
risk enterprises, the more insulation he builds into his income stream.

3. You attract the best young minds. Unfortunately, Western cultures now consider
farming an occupation reserved only for academic failures. The A and B students head to
white collar vocations. Guidance counselor’s view honors students returning to farms as a
waste of brain power. Marketing requires salesmanship, graphics design, entrepreneurism
and a host of other smarts that are challenging enough to attract the best and brightest into

4. You build a safer, more honest food system. Food Industrialization has reduced
consumer confidence and created vulnerabilities for pathogenicity and bioterrorism.
Shortening the distance between field and fork inherently creates more transparency and
protection. The industrial food paradigm views plants and animals as just so much
inanimate protoplasmic structure to be manipulated however cleverly the human mind
can conceive to manipulate it. This disrespect and dishonor of the pigness of the pig, for
example, translates into a culture that manipulates its citizens and even other cultures.
Food and farming carry a moral and ethical dimension that a culture ignores at its own

Polyface markets to three basic venues:
1. Farmgate sales. Roughly 25 percent. By far the most loyal, engaged customer, these
folks actually drive out to the farm, walk the fields, pet the animals, and have a visceral
connection to the farm. We send out an annual newsletter with an order blank. In addition
to scheduled fresh poultry and bulk pork and beef pickup dates, we have public 9 a.m.-4
p.m. Saturday hours to accommodate walk-ins.

2. Restaurants, institutions, and retail outlets. Roughly 25 percent. We deliver to these
accounts weekly via bus and delivery driver. All commission based for marketing,
delivery, and vehicular maintenance, clients pay a sliding-scale per pound delivery fee.

Consistent and high volume customers, these are also the most demanding and high

3. Metropolitan Buying Clubs. Roughly 50 percent. We deliver 8 times per year to nearly
2,000 families within a 4-hour radius of the farm. A hybrid between the supermarket
model and the farmers' market model, this one gives us the flexibility of working with
neighbors and going on our schedule. It offers complete inventory choice to patrons. All
orders are done via email shopping cart. Drop points are private homes in metropolitan
areas. Patrons meet the delivery vehicle at a designated time. No speculation or spot
sales, which means no inventory to put away when we come home and no damaged

One additional element in our marketing has developed recently with the co-ownership of
a nearby federal inspected abattoir. We have not registered the abattoir as a Sysco vendor
so that we can access larger institutions that require high product liability insurance.
Product liability insurance is fast becoming the second most significant impediment to
direct sales in the food industry. The first, of course, is food safety regulations that are
size prejudicial.

Once you have a customer, you can add as many items as you can imagine. Leveraging
the customer base with symbiotic product types is certainly foundational for sustainable

                   Forages for Meat Goats and Sheep
                                      Dr. Lori Unruh Snyder
                                      Agronomy Department
                                        Purdue University

Forages for Goat Meat Production
Interest in goat meat production in the USA is expanding as a result of increased demand
from several ethnic communities, primarily European, Middle Eastern, and Hispanic
immigrants. Including browse (woody brush and tree foliage) as a component of a
grazing system takes advantage of the natural tendency of goats to select as much as one-
half of their diet from browse sources. Feeding systems that include fodder trees can be
developed to take advantage of the natural preference of goats for browse.

The meat goat industry has been a growing segment of Indiana agriculture in recent
years. According to the Census of Agriculture, meat goat numbers increased by 57%
from 1997 to 2002. This growth has continued, and meat goat production has been the
fastest growing livestock industry in the United States. Indiana ranks 12th nationally in
meat goat production. The increase in ethnic populations in the region and the close
proximity to large population centers allows for Indiana producers to be competitive in
the primary markets of meat goat products. The demand for goat meat is expanding in
the growing markets within the state of Indiana. Thus, goats could be considered as a
potential species to be co-grazed with other species to help increase pasture utilization.

Goats can effectively use the same kinds of feeds consumed by other ruminants. They will
eat grasses, legumes, hays, silages, haylages, root crops, and browse-brush species. Goats
offer an alternative to utilizing forage and vegetation which could otherwise be "wasted" by
other grazing species. In addition, goats offer the potential for biological control of unwanted
vegetation in pastures and forests, which reduce dependence on certain pesticides.

Most preferred by goats are browse which are the edible parts of woody vegetation, such
as leaves, stems, and twigs from brushes. Table 1 displays some common types of brush
utilized by goats. One should be aware that some browse species are limited in value
because they contain inhibitors that bind or otherwise prevent utilization of the nutrients.
These inhibitors could be (1) lignin, (2) essential oils (terpene-based organic compounds)
which inhibit rumen bacteria, and (3) tannins (phenolic compounds) which depress
digestion by binding or inhibiting enzyme activity.

Table 1. Types of Brush Utilized by Goats
  Common Name          Efficiency of Utilization
  Black Locust         +++
  Cedar                +
  Elm                  ++
  Multiflora rose      +++
  Sumac                ++

 +++, Excellent utilization; ++, Good; +, Fair

Because of their inquisitive nature and tolerance of "bitter" or high tannin material, goats
may eat unpalatable weeds and wild shrubs that may be poisonous, such as cherry or
milkweed. The absence or the severity of poisoning is related to the quantity of material
consumed, the amount and age of the plant eaten (young plants verse older more mature
plants), the season of the year, and the age and size of the animal (as a percent of body
weight intake). In addition, several ornamental plants that are grown outdoors or indoors
are highly toxic. For example, goats should not have access to, or be fed clippings of
yew, azaleas, buckeye, castorbean, jimsonweed, lanatana, nightshades, poison hemlock
and pokeweed. Often some weedy species are considered to be nitrate accumulators such
as common lambsquarters and redroot pigweed. These weeds are still browsed by goats,
but should be limited during a drought to prevent the risk of nitrate poisoning.

The goats grazing behavior is very active. They are foragers able to cover a wide area in
search of scarce plant materials. Their small mouths and split upper lips enable them to
pick small leaves, flowers, fruits and other plant parts, thus choosing only the most
nutritious available feed. The ability to utilize browse species, which often have thorns
and small leaves tucked among woody stems and an upright growth habit, is a unique
characteristic of the goat compared to heavier, less agile ruminants. Goats have been
observed to stand on their hind legs (bi-pedal) and stretch up to browse tree leaves or
throw their bodies against saplings to bring the tops within reach.

The feeding strategy of goats appears to be to select grasses when the protein content and
digestibility are high, but to switch to browse when the latter overall nutritive value may
be higher. This ability is best utilized under conditions where there is a broad range in the
digestibility of the available feeds, giving an advantage to an animal which is able to
select highly digestible parts and reject those materials which are low in quality.
According to Luginbuhl, grazing goats have been observed to:
    • select grass over clover.
    • prefer browse over grazing.
    • prefer foraging on rough and steep land over flat, smooth land.
    • graze along fence lines before grazing the center of a pasture.
    • graze the top of pasture canopy fairly uniformly before grazing close to the soil

In a pasture situation goats are "top down" grazers. This behavior results in uniform
grazing and favors a first grazer-last grazer system using a goat flock as the first group

and cattle as the last group. This management is most appropriate with lactating does or
growing kids.

Forages can provide the vast bulk of the nutrients required for maintenance. However, as
forages mature, their nutrient value and digestibility decline, and they may be low in
phosphorus and often levels of vitamin A.

Good quality pasture and a supply of minerals are all that are required to feed goats at
maintenance levels. For lactating does, pasture can replace up to one-half of the
concentrate in the ration. When pastures are short or when winter limits the availability of
good, fresh grass, it is advisable to provide a supplemental feed. In order to prevent
overgrazing, grass should be allowed to get 3 to 4 inches high before animals graze. A
good management practice with goats is to divide the pasture into lots and rotate the
animals from the various lots every 10 to 14 days. Since goats are ruminants, one should
be careful when feeding fresh, lush legume pastures, to prevent bloat. It is sometimes
advisable to provide a mineral mix that contains 20-25% magnesium oxide to reduce the
risk of grass tetany when heavy milking goats are grazing lush small grain or
grass/legume pastures in early lactation.

Rye, wheat and barley are excellent for early spring or late fall grazing. Sudangrass and
millet are excellent summer pastures. Carrots, beets, turnips and cabbage are especially
relished by goats but are usually high in moisture and should be feed in the same way as
silage. Silages and haylages are not used as much to feed goats because of the high water
content and the amount of the silage feed is little and spoilage of the feed occurs quickly.
About 3 lbs of silage or 2 lbs of haylage may replace about 1 lb of hay. In regards to hay,
mixed hays should be at least 50% legume, especially if hay is to be used as the primary
source of feed. Grass hays require supplementation with concentrates. Second cut hays
are generally higher quality and more palatable that first cutting.

Forages for Sheep
No other class of farm animals is so well adapted to the utilization of maximum
quantities of pasture as sheep. Profitable lamb production is highly dependent upon
efficient production and use of forage crops. Harvesting of the forage crops by the sheep
themselves, with as little supplemental feeding as possible, is the most practical and
economical means to ensure the success of a sheep operation. Because feed costs usually
amount to 50 to 70% of the total cost of producing sheep, it is essential to develop an
economical year round forage supply.

By using good pastures (tall fescue/orchardgrass/Kentucky bluegrass - clover or alfalfa),
it is possible to raise sheep economically in many livestock programs. Sheep are selective
grazers, choosing plant parts which are of higher quality (and more digestible) than cattle
when both species have access to the same herbage. Therefore, when grazed alone, sheep
should be stocked heavily to avoid too much trampling and soiling of the ungrazed
forage. As a general rule, sheep eat more browse than cattle, but less than goats, because
sheep are not nearly as selective as goats. Sheep also make better use of rough, steep hill
pastures than cattle or goats.

A study by Abaye et al. (1994) found that co-grazing beef cow/calf pairs and ewes with
lambs resulted in greater gains for the lambs, but did not affect calf growth. The co-
grazing treatments resulted in intermediate forage quality, with greater forage quality for
cattle grazing alone as compared to sheep grazing alone (Abaye et al., 1994).

Both pastures and sheep must be well managed to maximize pasture returns. Although
there are great differences in plants, sheep are able to utilize the various grasses, legumes,
weeds and forbs. Lambs will consume approximately 2 to 4% of their body weight in dry
matter daily. Most immature, leafy grazable forages will contain about 80 to 85% water.
Therefore, lambs will consume from 10 to 20 lbs of green forage daily, depending upon
their body weight. The daily performance of lambs is generally improved by the addition
of a legume to a cool-season grass pasture. Sheep have shown to clearly prefer clover
when it is readily available.

Pure stands of annual or perennial grasses can increase the incidence of grass tetany,
especially in the early spring. This can be controlled by providing a mineral mix that
contains 20-25% magnesium oxide. Legumes will reduce the risk of grass tetany because
of their high magnesium content. It is most convenient to use a complete commercially
prepared sheep and goat mineral which will provide selenium and other minerals plus
phosphorous, salt and magnesium; however, never use cattle minerals because good
cattle mineral will kill sheep due to its copper content.

Grazing Management for Goats and Sheep
Grazing of forage generally provides the least expensive way of supplying nutrients to
the animals. To obtain efficient animal production over a number of years, the needs of
the plants as well as the needs of the animals must be taken into consideration.
According to Luginbuhl et al., the development of a successful forage system and grazing
management entail: (1) adjusting the stocking density of pasture because some forage
must be left at the end of the grazing period to maintain adequate plant production; (2)
harvesting ungrazed forages as hay or silage at an immature stage of growth when forage
growth is more rapid than it can be grazed in order to provide high quality feed when
grazing is not available; (3) overseeding pastures with legumes, ryegrass, small grains, or
brassicas to extend the grazing season and to provide some high quality feed during the
winter and spring.

The differences in feeding behavior among cattle, sheep and goats uniquely fit each
species to the utilization of different feeds available on a farm. These differences should
be considered in determining the best animal species to utilize a particular feed resource.
Feeding behavior is also important in determining whether single or multi-species will
best utilize available plant materials. Most studies indicate greater production and better
pasture utilization are achieved when sheep and cattle or sheep, cattle and goats are
grazed together as opposed to grazing only sheep or goats or cattle alone. This is
especially true where a diverse plant population exists. Generally one cow eats about the
same amount of feed as 6 to 8 goats. The selective grazing habits of goats in combination
with cattle would eventually produce pastures which would be more productive, of higher
quality, and with little weed problems as a result of the mixed grazing.

In grass-legume mixtures cattle will generally graze the grass species more readily than
sheep, which will prefer legumes and other broadleaf species. As a rule of thumb five to
six ewes and their lambs will consume similar amounts of feed as one cow and her calf.
Therefore, if the area available for grazing usually carries one cow-calf pair, five to six
ewes and their lambs can safely graze on the same area.

References Used
Abaye, A. O., V.G. Allen, and J. P. Fontenot. 1994. Influence of grazing cattle and sheep
together and separately on animal performance and forage quality. J. Anim. Sci.
Abaye, A. O., V.G. Allen, and J. P. Fontenot. 1997. The double DAFOR scale: A visual
technique to describe botanical composition of pastures. p. 96-100. In Proc. Forage and
Grassland Conference. Fort Worth, TX.
Ball, D.M., C.S. Hoveland, C.S., and G.D. Lacefield. 1996. Southern Forages. Potash and
Phosphate Institute.
Luginhbuhl, J.M., J.T. Green, J. P. Mueller, and M. H. Poore. 1996. Meat goats in land
and forage management. In Proceedings of the Southeast Regional Meat Goat Production
Symposium. “Meat Goat Production in the Southeast- Today and Tomorrow.” February
21-24, 1996. Florida A&M University, Tallahassee.
Luginbuhl, J. M., J.T. Green, M. H. Poore and A. P. Conrad. 2000. Use of goats to
manage vegetation in cattle pastures in Appalachian region of North Carolina. Sheep and
Goat Res. J. 16:124-135.

Pinkerton F., N. Escobar, L. Harwell, and W. Drinkwater. 1994. A survey of prevalent
production and marketing practices in meat goats of southern origin. SRDC Publication
No. 182. Southern Rural Dev. Center, Mississippi State, MS.
United States Department of Agriculture – National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2008.
Ag Statistics Database. [Online] Accessed Nov. 11, 2008.

United States Department of Agriculture – National Agricultural Statistics Service. 2004.
2002 Census of Agriculture. United States Summary and State Data. 1:24.
Feeds and Nutrition.
Unruh Snyder, L.J., J.P. Mueller*, J-M. Luginbuhl , and C. Brownie. C. 2005. The
Influence of spacing and coppice height on herbage mass and other growth characteristics
of Black locust in a southeastern USA silvopastoral system. In: M. R. Mosquera-Losada,
A. Riguerio, and J. McAdam (Ed.) Silvopastoralism and Sustainable Land Management.
CABI Publishing Wallingford, UK. Pp 480. ISBN 0 85199 006 1.

            Using Sheep and Goats in a Grazing
            Environment: Animal Management
                                   Dr. Mike Neary
                         Extension Small Ruminant Specialist
                                  Purdue University

Sheep and goats are designed to add value to forage and turn it into a saleable product.
They can be used successfully in a grazing program. Many producers in the U.S. and
internationally have proven this. Sheep and goats have many similarities to other
livestock species and much of this knowledge can be transferred to the production of
small ruminants. There are some differences between small ruminants and other species
used for grazing and this paper will highlight some of those differences.

One large difference of small ruminants as compared to beef and dairy cattle is the
potential reproductive performance. Sheep and goats often give birth to twins, and
triplets are not considered rare. In fact, most Midwest producers will average a
lambing/kidding rate of 130% or higher. With good management and breed choices, the
lambing/kidding rate can approach 200%. The higher reproductive efficiency leads to
more profit potential as compared to larger ruminant operations.

Another difference of significance, especially for sheep, is the tremendous number of
breed types available. It is estimated there are over 200 breeds of sheep worldwide, with
over 40 of these breeds present in the U.S. There are not as many goat breeds available
as sheep; however, the importation of the Boer and Kiko breeds into the U.S. has been a
major driver of the large increase of meat goat production in this country. Producers can
mix and match different breed types to fit a specific type of production system, which
adds flexibility in the production of small ruminants.

Coupling reproductive potential, the number of breed types available, and the fact that
small ruminants can utilize a wide variety of feedstuffs allows much diversity in types of
production systems possible. Forage and grazing-based systems are the most sustainable
type of production systems for sheep and goat production.

Keys to Profitability
Objectives and type of production system. Identifying production goals is crucial to
sustaining long term success and profitability of a small ruminant operation.
Determining resources available and potential products that can be sold to utilize raw
resources is key to setting production goals in a sheep or meat goat operation.

Sheep or meat goat production systems can cater production to a number of marketing
options. The ethnic trade is a strong market for small ruminants. There are many people
of different cultures that routinely include lamb or goat meat in their diet. This market
primarily involves producing 60 to 80 pound lambs or 40 to 60 pound kids, although
other weights and ages may be marketable to specific ethnic markets. Also, sales of

breeding stock, direct freezer animals, lambs or kids for 4-H projects, or feeder lambs or
kids can be primary sources of income. Lambs can also be raised to feeder lamb size and
then finished out at heavier weights for the more classic commercial meat trade. Winter
lambing/ kidding through barns or pasture-based lambing/kidding can be used. The point
is, there are many ways to produce sheep and goats; the main marketing objective and
resources available will determine what system is adopted.

Income and expenses. Economic performance of a sheep or meat goat operation can
often be predicted quite accurately by knowing only two facts about the operation;
reproductive efficiency and feed costs. Feed costs are typically 60 to 75% of the total
variable costs of an operation. These costs include forage costs (pasture, hay, residues,
fertilizer, etc.), supplemental grains and proteins (breeding herd and offspring), and salt
and minerals. Reproductive efficiency is often expressed as pounds weaned per ewe/doe
exposed. The biggest factors influencing this figure are number born and survival rate to

Other important variable costs include vaccination and health programs, marketing
charges, ram/buck cost, annual doe/ewe cost, labor, interest, supplies, etc. Other sources
of income can include sale of cull animals, sale of breeding stock, wool sales,
government programs, etc.

Many small ruminant operations can show a positive return to land, labor and capital.
However, as with many types of livestock or agricultural enterprises, it becomes more
difficult to show a consistent profit when fixed costs are included in the equation.

With proper management sheep or meat goat operations can be profitable. The biology
of sheep and goats, with the potential for a high reproductive rate and low cost feeding
programs, allows economically competitive enterprises to be developed. Often, sheep
and meat goat production systems can economically compare very favorably to other
grazing livestock systems.

Keys to Management
Breeds used and selection of breeding stock. Unless a producer is deriving a significant
portion of their income from the sale of purebred animals, the best approach is to utilize
crossbred animals in a grazing systems program. In general, crossbred animals will have
a higher reproductive efficiency, higher survival rate, and have a faster and more efficient
growth rate; especially if the breeds selected compliment each other’s strengths and

Sheep breeds can be categorized a number of ways in the U.S. and around the world. For
the Midwest and upper south USA, a useful system can be used that classifies sheep as to
the intended use. Classifications used include ram breeds, ewe breeds, dual-purpose
breeds, and more recently, hair sheep breeds. There are fewer breeds available when
considering meat goats but they include a number of dairy breeds, the Spanish type goats,
Boer goats and Kiko goats. Mixing and matching breed types to fit feed resources and
production objectives is a key management factor.

On average about 15 to 20% of the breeding herd needs to be replaced each production
cycle. When selecting or purchasing replacement females, make sure they are problem
free and healthy. Structural soundness, proper teat placement, sound udders, sound teeth
and mouths, good feet and legs, an even temperament and other traits important to
individual operations should be considered. Having good production records (especially
Expected Progeny Difference’s) can make the job of selecting or buying replacement
animals easier and more accurate.

Nutrition program. Precise feeding of small ruminants helps ensure nutrition is adequate
for optimal production without wasting feed and finances. Matching forage type and
quality, and any supplemental feed needs to animal production phase is a good place to
start a sound feeding program.

Production phases of sheep and goats where distinct nutritional requirements can be
identified include; the maintenance phase, the breeding season, late gestation, lactation,
growth and finishing of offspring, and growth of replacement stock. Space in this article
will not allow an extensive discussion of nutrient requirements of sheep and goats, but
there is much information on the subject available through Extension publications and
websites developed by personnel at USDA and Land Grant institutions.

A useful management tool to develop when raising sheep or goats is to learn how to body
condition score accurately. Periodic body condition scoring throughout the production
cycle can be a valuable tool to use to evaluate the nutritional program of an operation.

One item that is very important to mention when feeding sheep is the very real potential
for copper toxicity. Sheep are very sensitive to levels of copper in the diet as they retain
copper at higher levels than other species of livestock. Only use feeds, minerals,
premixes, trace mineral salts, and protein supplements designed for sheep when feeding
sheep. Do not add supplemental copper to sheep feeds.

Health programs. There are a number of maladies that can afflict sheep and goats. Many
of these diseases affect both animal species. These can include; respiratory issues,
digestive problems, reproductive diseases, hypothermia, metabolic diseases, mastitis,
insect problems, nutritional inadequacies and many more.

In general, successful operations will utilize a whole herd prevention program. This
involves working with a veterinarian to design an effective vaccination program, keeping
a closed herd, quarantining new animals, and a workable biosecurity program.

Two health concerns that merit special attention, especially when utilizing a grazing
program to raise sheep and goats, is internal parasitism and foot problems. These are
arguably the two biggest health issues in the production of sheep or goats.

The roundworm Haemonchus contortus , also known as the barber pole worm, is the
most common and dangerous internal parasite affecting sheep and goats. Haemonchus

contortus affects sheep, goats, llamas and deer. Both sheep and goats are very
susceptible to this parasite, with goats being especially susceptible. Haemonchus
contortus is a blood sucking roundworm with a very high reproductive potential. It can
cause anemia, lowered production rates in sheep and goats, chronically poor doers, and
death in heavily parasitized animals.

Current and potential producers of sheep and goats should have a whole flock/herd
control program for Haemonchus contortus . Control programs have been complicated
with the increasingly widespread discovery of resistance by Haemonchus contortus to
available classes of anthelmintics. Producers need to have an understanding of the life
cycle of internal parasites, how to use anthelmintics properly, and how to use animal and
pasture management to prevent and limit Haemonchus contortus infection. The best
method to start a control program is to attend a FAMACHA training workshop. A
FAMACHA workshop will cover the entirety of a Haemonchus contortus control
program including the use of selective deworming to help prevent anthelmintic

Footrot is a bacterial infection prevalent in warm, moist areas. Once it infects a
herd/flock, it is difficult to eradicate.

Footrot is caused by the synergistic action of the bacteria Fusobacterium necrophorum
and Dichelobacter nodosus. Footrot can have a range of symptoms, depending on the
specific strain(s) of D. nodosus present. Foot scald (or benign footrot) will infect only in
the area between the toes and often will clear up quickly with either treatment or with
improving environmental conditions. Virulent footrot is much more of a problem as the
bacteria will enter the hoof and digest the hard, horny tissue of the sole that protects the
fleshy tissue of the hoof. Virulent footrot in sheep and goats is a disease that causes
much economic loss and increased management effort.

Symptoms of foot scald include a reddened, inflamed area between the toes with a bad
odor. In advanced cases the hoof horn becomes under run and actually can separate from
the hoof wall. Foot scald and footrot can cause lameness, reduced weight gain as animals
are less willing to move in order to feed, and decreased reproductive capabilities. These
conditions result in production losses, treatment and prevention costs, premature culling,
and reduced sale value of infected animals.

Both sheep and goats can get footrot. At least some of the different strains of D. nodosus
affect both animal species. In general, goats are usually less severely affected by footrot
than are sheep.

Footrot is commonly brought onto a farm when an infected sheep or goat is brought into
the herd. The anaerobic D. nodosus bacteria will not live in the environment for more
than about 14 days, so almost always, the source of the bacteria to a herd/flock that is
unaffected is via carrier animals. In order to prevent foot rot it is absolutely imperative
that it not be introduced to a footrot free herd/flock.

Predator control. Sheep and goats are unique from most other grazing ruminants in that
they are more susceptible to predation. There are a number of animals that potentially
prey on sheep, but the ones of main concern in the Midwest USA are the domestic dog
and the coyote.

Predator control with sheep and goats should be a management issue just like parasite
control, a health program, or a nutrition program. As with any potential management
program, prevention is the best option. There are a number of methods that can be used
to prevent predation; often a variety of these methods are employed simultaneously for
the best effect.

The first place to start is good fencing systems. Grazing systems that utilize frequent
movement of animals through various paddocks have an advantage in this regard as they
often use electrified fencing systems. Electric fences that are well constructed can serve
as a good initial deterrent to predators.

Other management strategies that can be utilized include proper disposal of dead animals
or afterbirth so as not to attract predators to an operation. The use of guardian animals is
also a common method used to prevent predation. Guardian dogs are the most common
method, but donkeys and llamas are often used, too. In cases of ongoing predation,
offending animals can be removed by trapping, snaring, or shooting. Producers have to
be aware of state and federal regulations on these methods of predator control.

Facilities. Equipment and facilities don’t have to be fancy to successfully raise sheep or
goats, but they should be effective to make management tasks easy to accomplish. Good
fencing, an effective water delivery system, housing appropriate to the production
system, mineral and grain feeders, are some examples of needed equipment and facilities.
A scale will usually pay for itself over time by more accurate dosing of animals with
anthelmintics and other medications and by more precise knowledge of marketing

A handling system takes a lot of the work out of raising sheep or goats. A good handling
system with a series of contain and crowd pens, a chute or race, a catch gate and(or)
sorting gate will allow performing management tasks on sheep and goats with less stress
and work for both the animal and caretaker. Handling systems can be purchased or
homemade. Regardless of the type, known principles of animal handling and movement
should be used in construction and placement of the handling system.

Sheep and goats can add value to forage via a planned grazing system. Because of the
reproductive potential of small ruminants, often this value can be higher than other
grazing animals. Sheep and goats have many similarities to other livestock, and
worldwide are the most important livestock species. They can be produced profitably
and successfully in a grazing program.

    Economic Flexibility in Grazing Stockers and
           Replacement Dairy Heifers
                                      Dave Nuhring
                             Grazing Systems Supply, Inc.
                            Certified Grassland Professional
                                      Batesville, IN

Cows don’t care if I make any money and neither does the cattle market. Any control I
can get, of the livestock and my marketing, will give me an economic advantage. Stocker
cattle and dairy heifers have given us the flexibility to adjust our grazing enterprise to
changing market conditions, but, first things first.

You can’t discuss the economic flexibility of grazing stockers or dairy heifers without 1st
understanding and 2nd accepting the forage production potential and flexibility of a
managed grazing system. With only 48 acres of pasture a Management Intensive
Grazing program has doubled our forage production, which then permitted us to graze
enough calves to market by the semi-load directly off the farm. Marketing less than a
semi-load leaves you at the mercy of the market. That isn’t economic flexibility.
Managed grazing and stockers gives us flexibility and control with our livestock, forage
quality and quantity, and our input expenses.

For better or worse, most of us desire control, and the more the better. But gaining
control in an agricultural enterprise when you’re dealing with markets and the weather is
a real challenge (and that’s probably an understatement!). Putting flexibility into our
operation doesn’t give us control over the weather or the markets but it does improve
how we are able to positively respond to the uncertainties in a grazing enterprise.
Designing flexibility into any enterprise gives you more options, and options present
opportunities and opportunities provides increased control of more situations.

But, what gave me economic flexibility? Initially for me, it was a “Mind Shift”. Finally
understanding I’m actually in the GRASS business. We’ve grazed cattle since 1970, but
in 1987 we made the “mental” transition to being in the grass (forage) business, instead
of the cattle business. We set up our paddock grazing system that took us from 3 pastures
to 14 paddocks and from 3 watering sites to watering wherever we wanted. This gave us
much more flexibility, control and management capability of our forage production.
Now I could actually favor the forages first. Again, cows don’t care if I make any
money. It’s up to me to get control of them and see that they make a positive
contribution to the economics of this enterprise.
Flexibility with a Paddock System:
    • I control where the livestock go and how long they stay
    • I manage forage height when they start grazing and residual remaining when they
    • I can influence forage quantity and quality control
    • I control stocking density

   •   I control forage utilization
   •   The system can improve manure and urine distribution and nutrient recycling
   •   Forage production predictability – lets me make fertility input decisions as needed

Now let’s look at the economic flexibility of the livestock side of this program. My goal
is to add as much value to the grass as possible and continue to manage my risk. My
options are to purchase stockers or to custom graze either stockers, replacement dairy
heifers, or beef brood cows. We have most often purchased stockers. In general, the
rewards are more substantial than custom grazing but so are the risks. The economic
flexibility of stockers begins with knowing I have the forage production capacity to grow
a semi-load of calves, and knowing the gains go on very cost effectively with grass and
mineral only. The following options give me additional flexibility.
     • Choice of steers or heifers – depending on possible margin advantage
     • Choice of purchase weight – determined by desired selling weight
     • Choose mixed breeds and colors or all uniform and Black
     • Marketing to a feedlot to the East or to the West
     • Sell at the farm, farm internet sale, or take a chance at the terminal
     • Establish the price on the farm or take a chance at the terminal
     • Establish the shrink or accept the reality when shipping to the terminal
     • Retain ownership and send to a custom feedlot

Custom grazing Replacement Dairy Heifers is our next best option and has been our most
recent opportunity. Heifer growth and development is what we are getting paid for. The
consistent high quality forage available under our managed grazing system makes this
growth and development achievable. Finding grazing dairymen to work with can be a bit
of a challenge. When we do, the following options and opportunities are rewarding:
      • No cash outlay for livestock
      • Established contract fees with monthly cash flow
      • Little financial risk
      • Less health concerns than stockers
      • Opportunity to avoid a volatile cattle market

 The remaining options of custom grazing stockers or beef brood cows carries with them
 many of the economic flexibilities already discussed but with the following exceptions:
    • With custom grazed stockers, we get paid by the pound of gain. Financial
        success becomes very dependant on the health and quality of the calves
    • Success with grazing beef brood cows is dependant on finding a producer that’s
        willing to pay you what it’s really worth to care for their cattle and do it well.
        This is difficult for them because they seldom know what the cost of
        maintaining a cow really is. But, this option is low risk and hassle free.

This whole program has evolved over 20 years with some failures and many successes
along the way. It contains more details than can be explained here in a few words. I
know this grazing program is more difficult to execute than it may appear, but that’s not

unusual. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. Management Intensive Grazing
and stockers is the only way I’ve found to consistently make money in the cattle business,
particularly on a small acreage. This type of grazing program will work, if you like to

Envision This – Envision the economic flexibility of incorporating a stocker enterprise
within a successful cow/calf program.

      Alternative Annual Forages in My Grazing
                                   Roger D. Robinson
                                    Robinson Farms
                                      Orleans, IN

Robinson Farms is comprised of 900 acres of row crops, 150 acres alfalfa, and 300
commercial beef cows. The cows are comprised of a three-way cross of Angus,
Simmental, and Gelbvieh. We have high fertility on our pastures as we have been
recipients of hog and poultry manure from a neighbor for years. On one farm my dad
bought in 1968 we have never applied commercial fertilizer. Because of this soil fertility
we think this cross breeding makes for a high milking female which will convert forage
to beef . Forage on the home farm is alfalfa, orchardgrass, bluegrass, and clover. The
only tall fescue we have is on rented acres. Alternative forages we use are hybrid brown
midrib (bmr) sorghum-sudangrass, oats, turnips, annual ryegrass, wheat, rye, and

Our calving season is Feb10-April 1 for heifers and March and April for the cows. We
have utilized artificial insemination for 19 years so our cows are at the home farm until
about May 20 so rotational grazing is utilized. Our cows are then moved to pastures
away from home for the breeding season and we begin to stockpile forage on the home
farm. We utilize this when we wean calves in August and then stock-pile it again in
October and November for use in December and January. We really use the alternative
forages in late summer and fall to allow this practice of stockpiling. During use of the
alternative forages is when we try to utilize strip and intensive grazing. Our near 100%
no-till on row crops provides a few challenges in utilization of these fields when not in
row crop production. It is my belief that land value is too high on cropland just to use it
from April to October.

Probably the most important concern is compaction to land that will be in corn or
soybeans next year, but the use of annual ryegrass helps to alleviate that problem. Not
allowing cows on that land in very wet days also helps curb the problem. Another
problem that can occur is the fact that in some wet springs some of the ryegrass can get
ahead of the grazing opportunities thus crowding the time table of getting the corn or
soybeans planted in a timely manner. This problem is easily solved though by harvesting
the excess into hay.

To be profitable in the cow/calf industry you must control feed cost as this is 65-75% of
the cost of keeping a cow. Not only that, about 60-70% of her feed intake goes to
maintenance and not production. If you cannot capture a return on this it is simply a cost
of production without a return. Our winter feed consists of corn silage, wet distillers
grain or wet gluten, and “rough” hay. Hay is the most expensive feed producers can
provide to their herd! This only begs the question “How do I extend the grazing season?”
We do it by grazing BMR in late summer, then cornstalks, then oats and turnips. If

moisture is sufficient and we have stockpiled conventional grasses then we will also use
those as well. In 2005-2006 we grazed 20% of our cows for 300 out of 365 days of that
grazing year (April 15- Feb 15). If 2008 prices of feed are any indication of the future, it
will mandate cheaper alternatives for feeding the cow herd.

There are many factors which determine what management system will work for a beef
operation in the Midwest USA. I believe a producer must look hard at the following, and
answer the tough questions for themself.
1. How do I cut down on feed costs to my cows?
2. How can I extend the grazing season?
3. Should I be calving in the spring or fall?
4. Are my cows too big a frame score?
5. What is my soil fertility?
6. What forages will fit my soil fertility?
7. Can I rotational and/or intensive or strip graze?
8. Am I willing to change?

       Alternative Annual Forages in My Grazing
                                        Brett Glick
                                       Brothers Beef
                                       Columbus, IN

Hello, I am Brett Glick a farmer from Columbus Indiana. On our farm we do mainly
conventional row crops as well as some all natural grass fed beef. I have been asked to
present information on alternative forages that I use in my cattle operation. I have found
them to be very useful in filling gaps in my forage enterprise.

I have used wheat as a fall annual in the past for a variety of reasons. It is a cost effective
method of producing a winter cover crop on row crop ground to improve the soil. In the
spring it has the ability to produce a large quantity of high quality hay. The quality of the
hay is very dependent on care being taken to harvest it while it is in the boot stage, which
is a very small time window. It can also supply very early spring grazing before many
other types of forages are ready.

We have used oats in the past to varying degrees of success. It can provide a very good
option when filling in gaps of your forage chain during spring or fall. If you intend to
graze it, adding turnips to it helps make a better balanced ration. The turnip seeds can be
mixed with the oat seeds during planting. Oats also can be very useful when starting a
clover or alfalfa field, or as pure oat hay in a field one plans on using for a summer
annual later in the year.

The small grain rye, when planted in the fall, has given us amazing amount of tonnage
per acre when harvested for hay in the spring. We were able to bale 32 five-feet round
haylage bales off of less than five acres this past spring. Like wheat, it matures very
early and extremely quickly so care must be taken not to let it get to far out of the boot
stage of maturity. When wanting to obtain multiple grazings off a fall-seeded crop we
have used annual ryegrass in the past with very satisfactory results. The roots of this
plant often grow three to four feet deep from establishment to spring and, thus, have a
very beneficial effect on the soil. The results of this can be seen throughout the year.

Unlike the cold weather annuals discussed thus far, the next two are warm-season or
summer-annual grasses, which both do a fantastic job of supply high quality forage
during the hottest days of summer when little else is growing. The first is sudangrass. It
is a tall plant that visually resembles Johnsongrass, though unlike Johnsongrass it is not a
perennial, nor do seeds threaten becoming invasive plants when sudangrass is properly
managed. This plant can produce an amazing amount of high energy forage in the middle
of the summer with very reasonable water demands. One can usually plan on getting
three to four cuttings or grazings off this plant per year when seeded by early June. There
are some extra management issues when using this plant. Seeds should not be planted
until the soil has reached at least 70 degrees F. Also, until the plant is two-feet tall it is

potentially toxic to animals. This possible poisoning, caused by formation of prussic
acid, is also a concern in the fall, after the first hard frost. As the plant begins to die it is
potentially toxic until it is completely dead. When cutting this plant it can be challenging
to get it sufficiently dry, which often takes four good days of drying weather to achieve
the desired moisture for baling hay.

The next summer annual is sorghum-sudangrass, as you most likely can deduce is a
hybrid of sudangrass and sorghum. Sorgum-sudangrass is very similar to sudangrass in
how one manages it, from planting, to number of harvests, to toxicity concerns. The
main difference is that it has higher yield per plant. The thickness of the sorghum-
sudangrass stem does not lend itself to hay making as easily due to it taking an extra day
or two to dry down and that the stems can become large enough as to be problematic
when cutting with a mower-conditioner. We have observed that grazing cattle greatly
prefer sorghum-sudangrass to plain sudangrass.

I have seeded all the crops discussed with a standard JD 750 drill with no alteration or
small-seed boxes. When used for hay I have harvested all of them using New Holland
equipment that is between three and six years old. Our baler is a “silage special” and can
handle the added requirements of baling high moisture hay.

Wrapping bales of high moisture hay with plastic for anaerobic fermentation and
successful storage without fully drying is not a new technology but is becoming more
common. The two popular ways to wrap a bale is either with an in-line wrapper or to
wrap the bales separately. If a one decides to wrap individual bales separately, each bale
which looks like a giant marshmallow, can be moved separately around the farm which
many people find convenient. The machine used to wrap individual bales is considerably
cheaper than the ones used for in-line wrapping. With individual wrapping, however, one
must also purchase a special grabber that would not puncture the wrap and extra wrap per
bale is needed.

When wrapping bales inline, they are butted up against each other and look like a large
white sausage when wrapping is finished. Once they are in place they can not be moved
or the exposure to air would cause the forage to rot. An in-line wrapper can cost up to
$24,000, but some extra expense is saved with an in-line wrapper as compared to an
individual bale wrapper because a bale grabber is not necessary and there is less plastic
used per bale. The wrap on a bale can cost as much as $2.50 per bale for in-line
wrapping and twice as much for individual wrapping.

The largest benefit to having your hay wrapped is the ability to cut it one day and bale it
the next. This is extremely handy in the wet spring or when doing sudangrass or
sorghum-sudangrass that requires much longer drying times. The palatability of the hay
is increased causing the cattle to more readily eat it and they do a better job of cleaning it

 High Quality Forage Production and High Yield,
  is it Really Fuel Versus Food? …Any Answers
                     Out There?
                                    Gary Letterly
                                University of Illinois
               Extension Natural Resources Management Educator
                                 Rebecca Arundale
                                University of Illinois
       Energy Biosciences Institute, Department of Plant Biology-PhD. Student

Ask a neighbor with a few of those long forgotten three-year-old (or older) large round bales
stuck in their waterway or along an old hedgerow if it is worth their time and effort to
retrieve those bales. As an experienced producer, you may not be surprised to hear the
response, “if you can get’em, then you can have’em.” The fact that much of what sometimes
can be baled for livestock feed is either poor to start with or has been allowed to deteriorate
to a level so low in quality that the “forage” only has salvage value, a source of compostable
mulch or maybe as bedding (without the mold). It can be a considerable challenge to
optimize and match the energy and nutritive value of your forage to those requirements of
your livestock. Your plan for producing high quality forage for livestock feed requires an
understanding of the general relationships that exist between high forage yield and high
forage quality. One of those relationships can be described as “one goes up while the other
goes down.”

Biomass for heat and power is often suggested as one of many alternative uses for out-of-
condition or otherwise low nutritive value hay. As producers consider the economics of high
energy costs and the logistics of producing biomass crop as a heat and power feedstock (that
is, maximizing yield without concern for animal nutritional needs), other, economically
profitable, production options are likely to evolve for ranchers and row-crop farmers.

With production end-use in mind, the relationship between forage nutritive value and dry
matter yield may not always be a huge “negative” for forage producers… here’s why. The
balance between high quality forage and high yielding forage is taking on a new dynamic. A
familiar type of perennial grass (switchgrass) that will grow in the “heart of America” and a
type that is not so familiar (as an example, Miscanthus) continue to be researched for their
value associated with the biomass quantities of BTU value and yield. The composition of the
biomass may come into play as plants remain in the field over an extended length of time or
in terms of ash content if used as a solid furnace fuel. Requirements for a forage used as a
fuel will likely be different than when used as a livestock feed.

Will you have to choose between being a forage grower or a biomass producer, or will you be
both? …probably yes, some of both. Is any regional research taking place to help producers
make these critical decisions? …Yes!

      The Dudley Smith Research Initiative (DSI) is a program which creates and applies
      knowledge about the system that makes up the agricultural community. By understanding
      interactions among the components of the agricultural and community system, including its
      natural resources, economic base and social elements, the intent is to make agriculture
      sustainable over the long term.” ( A project with this objective
      within the DSI program is the “Biomass Heat and Power in Illinois.”

      The DSI project works to:
            o investigate the advantages and disadvantages of growing and harvesting
                Miscanthus x giganteus (Miscanthus) and Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) as
                energy crops
            o increase public knowledge of
                        alternate energy sources
                        potential effects of alternate energy on global climate change
                        the viability of Miscanthus and switchgrass as biomass energy sources
            o establish a display facility that will demonstrate the viability and sustainability of
                biomass heat in a University Extension Office Building
            o improve the energy efficiency of a University Extension Office Building
            o gain practical logistical experience from this small scale project and provide a
                knowledge base for the community

      In 2005 and 2006, 2 acres of Miscanthus and 2 acres of switchgrass were planted alongside 2
      acres of a traditional corn/soybean rotation on the Dudley Smith Initiative Farm. Miscanthus
      and switchgrass are both high yielding perennial grasses, making them viable options for
      biomass feedstocks. (Figure 1.) As natural gas, propane, and other fuel sources continue to
      increase in cost, and as emissions continue to rise, both Miscanthus and switchgrass emerge
      as potential economically viable and secure domestic alternatives.

      In 2008, an additional 5 acres of Miscanthus was planted (Figure 2.). This feedstock material
      will be used to fuel 2 biomass furnaces at the Taylorville Extension Office. Practical
      logistical experience from this small scale project will provide a knowledge base for
      individuals throughout the community as well as provide a cornerstone for larger scale co-
      firing projects.

                         2007 Average Yield of all Miscanthus and switchgrass plots                     Miscanthus (2008)
                                                                                                            Approx. 3 acres


                                                                                          Miscan   Miscan Switch Miscan Switch Miscan
Yield (tons/acre)

                                                                                           thus     thus   grass  thus   grass  thus
                     8                                                                    (2008)                 (2008)                        2006


                                                                                         Miscan    Switch   Miscan Switch Miscan Miscan
                     4                                                                    thus      grass    thus   grass  thus   thus
                                                                                         (2008)                                  (2008)        2005

                                        Miscanthus         Switchgrass
                                                                                       Dudley Smith Farm near Pana, Illinois (9 acres total)

                     (Figure 1.) Miscanthus and Switchgrass are both                  (Figure 2.) The Dudley Smith Plot Design.
                    highly productive crops being considered as biomass               This is one of 8 research sites throughout
                    feedstocks across the Midwest)                                    Illinois.
2010 Heart of America
 Grazing Conference
      January 20-21, 2010

   Roberts Conference Centre
       Wilmington, Ohio
        For more informa on contact:
              Jeff McCutcheon
      January 21-22, 2009
          The Ohio State University
            Knox County Extension
          Holiday Inn
                P.O. Box 1268
            Mt. Vernon, OH 43050
      Columbus, Indiana

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