Grazing Workshop to Focus on Forage Diversity and Grazing Efficiency

– John Kellis, ODA Grazing Management Specialist

Summer grazing paddocks with warm season grasses allow cool-season fescue pastures to be rested for strip grazing in late fall and winter.

Livestock producers are being invited to an important grazing workshop at Millstone Creek Farm near Hillsboro on Tuesday July 16th from 6:00 till 9:00 PM.  Tim and Sandy Shoemaker have been working with grazing specialists and wildlife professionals to develop a more efficient and diversified grazing operation since 2004.

The workshop will highlight the recent transition of the Shoemaker’s CRP filter strips to warm-season grass mixed pastures.  This will complete the final major piece of their Grazing Management Plan.  The Shoemakers established a rotational grazing system soon after they started their grazing operation some 15 years ago.  One goal Tim and Sandy set for their new operation was to be efficient as producers, and they integrated fall stockpiling of their fescue pastures to reduce the need to produce hay as supplemental feed for their Black Angus herd.  Adding the summer grazing paddocks will allow them to rest even more cool-season fescue pastures to be strip grazed in late fall and winter, and further reducing their need for hay.

The Shoemakers have always stockpiled their pastures and fed some hay in the fall to let their pastures rest.  While they have grown their cattle numbers from 20 head to 55 cow-calf pairs, they are still able to strip graze their fescue pastures well into February.  According to Sandy, “We used to stockpile until we ran out of fescue to graze, but now we find ourselves pulling off the stockpile to prevent damaging the soil and plants NOT because we run out of grass to graze.  We have not had to increase our 30 acres of hay as we have grown the herd.  Our hay acres are grazed twice and then rested as additional stockpiled acres.  With the warm-season paddocks now added, we will be on pasture and grazing 10 months of the year, pulling the cows off in March and April to protect the forages and prevent compaction on our paddocks”.

As Tim and Sandy met the primary elements of the Grazing plan with fence and watering facilities in place, one of the final pieces was to introduce warm-season grasses into their operation.  The CRP filter strips offered them that opportunity.  As these contracted acres came out of CRP Tim and Sandy worked with the conservation office to find the best way to transition that cover to quality pasture.

The workshop will show how the transition worked since this is the first full year that the cattle are grazing these warm-season pastures.  Presenters at the Workshop will be Pat Keyser, of the University of Tennessee, Director of Native Grasslands Management and Bob Hendershot, ODA and retired NRCS Grasslands Coordinator.  If a producer has any questions on grazing Management, they would be hard-pressed to find this kind of expertise and experience in one place.

Set your calendars to attend this conference.  Workshop topics to be covered include: 1.) Utilizing warm-season grasses in your grazing system, 2.) Native warm-season grass establishment, 3.) Animal performance and economics of grazing systems, and 4.) Options for using warm-season annuals and cover crops.  Producers will also participate in a pasture walk to view active grazing of warm-season pastures.

Producers can register on-line at or by calling the office at 1(937) 393-1922 ext. 3. Registration Deadline is close of business this Friday July 12. Registration is free, and dinner will be provided by workshop sponsors: The Highland SWCD, Union Stockyards of Hillsboro, the Highland County Cattleman’s Assoc., ODA-Div. Soil and Water, USDA-NRCS, ODNR-Div. of Wildlife, and OSU-Extension.

Producers will be provided a packet of information about Shoemaker’s Operation and the various grazing practices involved.  The gathered expertise will be utilized as a training opportunity for agency personnel during the day and will reset to focus on the needs of Ohio’s Livestock producers that evening.  Producers and conservationists should come ready to see, question, and learn.

You may print this workshop flyer as your reminder of this program on the 16th.