Recap: Mid-Ohio Valley Grazing Conference

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

On this past Saturday, 57 livestock producers and forage enthusiasts attended the Mid-Ohio Valley Grazing Conference in Fleming Ohio at Lazy H Farms. The event was sponsored by The Ohio State University Extension, West Virginia University Extension, Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District, Ohio Farm Bureau, The Career Center – Adult Technical Training, and The James Barret Endowment Fund. The speakers of the event were Bob Hendershot, Dr. Mark Sulc, and Dr. Edward B. Rayburn.

Mr. Bob Hendershot, retired State Grassland Conservationist, NRCS and the 2017 Distinguished Grasslander Award recipient, began the morning session by talking about the importance of soil fertility. He explained that in order for existing pastures to flourish or new seedings to properly establish, soil fertility is key. A simple soil test can be done in order to find out what minerals your soil is lacking or if there is an excess of mineral. Mr. Hendershot reminder everyone that the most cost effective form of fertilizer is manure. However, he stressed that the application of manure must be done correctly and soil testing can show a producer where it is needed. He also noted that the best form of manure application was allowing the grazing animals to do it for the producer by “letting your livestock work for you, rather than you working for your livestock.”

The second presenter of the day was Dr. Mark Sulc, Professor and Extension Forage Specialist from The Ohio State University. From a grazing perspective, Dr. Sulc focused in on the behavior of grazing livestock. He presented research that showed that the bite depth of an animal grazing immature forage is about half of the sward (or forage) height. In order to maximize on intake, most forages he mentioned during his presentation were over 7 inches in height. Forages below this height may reduce intake greatly. In addition to grazing behavior, Dr. Sulc provided producers with alternative forage species that could be utilized in order to combat the summer slump created by the hot summer as well as forages that are suitable for fall and winter grazing. Although summer and winter annuals require more management by the producer, these forage types certainly pay off in the long run.

The final speaker of the day was Dr. Edward Rayburn, an Extension Specialists in Agriculture and Natural Resources from West Virginia University. During his talk, Dr. Rayburn provided producers with multiple ‘quick fact sheets’ that can be used on farm to easily suggest a pasture and grazing management system. One of Dr. Rayburn’s highlights was informing producers about Managing for Pasture VALUE. The word VALUE suggests five key points in forage production; Pasture is most nutritious and digestible for livestock when it is in a Vegetative growth stage, highly Available, is provided with adequate Legume (and forbs), Utilized to the correct extent for the growth stage of both the animal and forage, and able to be sustained in the Environment you are managing. For those that are interested in more information on this subject or the fact sheets that were provided at the event, please contact Dr. Rayburn directly by following this link.

All in all, Saturday’s event was a huge success as demonstrated by the enthusiasm and questions that were asked in the morning lectures as well as the pasture walk. I believe the producers of the Mid-Ohio valley benefited greatly from the event. In case you missed this event, please be sure to check our Events/Programs tabs for upcoming grazing conferences offered throughout the state.