Several Oregon County farmers found themselves back in a classroom last week, attending Grazing school. Grazing school is a 2-1/2 day course which teaches landowners basic information on developing a management intensive grazing system.
Management intensive grazing (MIG), sometimes called rotational grazing, involves dividing larger pastures into smaller paddocks and moving cattle to fresh forage every one to seven days. Using this system more forage is utilized by the grazing animal; additionally, the frequent moving of livestock optimizes the forage quality by allowing planned grazing followed by rest periods which allows the plant to recover and soil fertility improves by recycling the nutrients consumed by the animal.
Grazing school participants learned about plant growth, soil fertility, matching livestock and forage, livestock nutrition and economics. Participants also learned how to develop a grazing system by learning about fencing, water and design layout considerations. Farm tours and hands-on activities were also conducted including measuring forage, pasture condition scoring, fencing and water system demonstrations and an activity where the participants divide into groups and develop a grazing plan.
The Grazing School is a joint effort between the University of Missouri Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Oregon County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). There were 13 landowners who participated in last weeks school, coming from Oregon, Howell, Ripley and Carter counties.
Upon completion, participants are eligible to participate in cost share practices with the NRCS and SWCD. The Oregon County SWCD has identified the following as their major resource concerns: Sheet/Rill and Gully Erosion, Woodland Erosion, Sensitive Areas, Nutrient/Pest Management and Grazing Management.
Sheet/Rill and Gully Erosion programs establish a vegetative cover crop to stabilize the soil on land that is experiencing significant erosion or can be used to prevent significant erosion by improving plant health and diversity. Woodland erosion programs involve forest planting, woodland protection via livestock exclusion and use exclusion, timber harvest plans, and restoration of skid trails, logging roads, stream crossings, and log landings. Sensitive Areas programs involve the use of riparian forest buffers, stream protection, sinkhole treatment, well decommissioning, and stream bank stabilization.
Nutrient/Pest Management is a program which point out the economic and environmental benefits of following approved nutrient and pest management plans by improving soil fertility without excess nutrient runoff and reducing the pressure from pest species to improve crop yields and forage productions.
Grazing Management programs enhance permanent vegetative cover, and develop planned grazing systems for water development and distribution, fence, lime, and seed. For more information about cost share practices contact the Oregon County Soil and Water Conservation District at 417-778-7591 ext. 3.
Grazing schools are conducted in Oregon County yearly; however, there are still open seats available in nearby grazing schools. For more information contact Agronomy Specialist, Sarah Kenyon at 417-778-7490.