January 23, 2009

In a state known for producing world-class livestock, high-quality forages, such as alfalfa, have always been in demand.  However, in the past couple of years, this demand has increased as hay costs and the need for premium pasture have risen, especially during the summer.

To help meet this demand, interested individuals can join Kentucky producers, industry professionals and university specialists in exploring various aspects of alfalfa during the 29th Kentucky Alfalfa Conference. The conference begins at 8 a.m. CST Feb. 19 at the Cave City Convention Center.

"The program has something for everyone truly interested in alfalfa," said Garry Lacefield, extension forage specialist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. "High-quality forages like alfalfa can do a lot for a feeding program and serve as a cash hay crop."

Dairy cattle and equine producers have used high-quality forages for many years, and now some beef cattle operations are using them as well, Lacefield said. Producers are finding that raising alfalfa has many benefits despite whether it's sold for hay or used for grazing or silage. It is a nitrogen-fixing legume, good rotational crop, helps preserve the soil and is a good grazing crop during drought years.

"Every time we have a drought, we come out of it with more respect for alfalfa," Lacefield said. "With droughts during the past two summers, we want to look at the past to help position livestock producers better in the future. This conference will explore that as well as costs and returns as far as hay production."

Topics include yield versus quality; seeding prices, rates and their impact on production costs; myths and realities of alfalfa hay for horses; grazing alfalfa; keys to success with balage; Roundup Ready alfalfa and future GMOs in alfalfa; cost and returns of alfalfa production; marketing and producing alfalfa hay; and the showing of a DVD titled, "The Art and Science of Haymaking." The conference will also include a silent auction and awards program. After the presentations, all the speakers will return to the stage to answer participants' questions.

Preregistration is not necessary. The cost of $15 for adults and $5 for students includes lunch and all program materials. For more information on the conference, contact Lacefield at 270-365-7541, ext. 202 or Christi Forsythe at 270-365-7541, ext. 221.

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