December 2, 2005 | By: Laura Skillman

Extended grazing can lower animal feed costs and improve profits. It also will be one of many topics addressed when the five-state Heart of America Grazing Conference comes to Kentucky Jan. 25-26.

“We built this year’s program on the successes of previous programs and the needs and desires of people in Kentucky and the surrounding area,” said Garry Lacefield, a forage specialist with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. 

Ed Ballard, an Illinois grazing educator, will be the keynote speaker during the opening session of the conference, which will be held at the Cave City Convention Center. He will discuss the potentials of year-round grazing in this area of the country.

“When we look at going from grazing to having to use stored feeds, our costs escalate,” Lacefield said. “So we are looking at how can we graze longer, feed less hay, make more profit and be more environmentally friendly with grazing. Ed Ballard has a lot of data on extended grazing.”

Lacefield still advocates putting up hay in Kentucky but wants producers to take a realistic look at how many days they feed hay or silage. When they do feed hay or silage, it’s best to feed a quality product but to also look at ways to feed less of it over a shorter period of time, he said.

The program includes information on grazing horses, replacement dairy heifers, goats, beef cattle and wildlife. It also includes information on environmentally friendly, economically sound and agronomically feasible grazing programs.

“This conference is going to be very practical,” Lacefield said. “If they are coming to hear academic, pie-in-the-sky things, this is not the place. But if they want to be associated with farmers and industry people who have enthusiasm for grazing with proven research information and firsthand experience, this is where they need to be.”

The conference began five years ago, when grazing specialists from several universities began trying to determine the best, most effective means of educating producers about the importance and value of improved grazing. The conference, which moves annually from state to state, targets producers in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Missouri.

“We were all doing something on grazing and the interest was high,” Lacefield said. “So we thought if we could join forces we could do a better job and we won’t be duplicating as much. It’s been a very effective program.”

Presenters from UK in addition to Lacefield include Bob Coleman, horse specialist; Jimmy Henning, assistant director for agriculture and natural resources; John T. Johns, beef cattle specialist; Ray Smith, forage specialist; and Kevin Laurent, animal sciences Extension associate.

Grazing experts from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Auburn University, University of Illinois and Ohio State University, along with industry professionals and top producers, will also be on the program. 

The conference begins at 6 p.m. Jan. 25 and continues throughout the following day. Pre-registration is encouraged. The registration fee is $15 per person for one day and $25 for both days. It includes dinner and lunch as well as proceedings from the conference. To obtain a registration form, conference program and to learn about lodging accommodations, visit the UK forages Web site or contact Lacefield at 270-365-7541 ext. 202.


Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278

Contact: Garry Lacefield, 270-365-7541 ext. 202