February 16, 2010

Kentucky livestock producers can get hands-on field experience in grazing concepts, practices and techniques through the University of Kentucky's Applied Master Grazer program.

The new program, developed by specialists in the UK College of Agriculture, differs from the traditional Master Grazer program, which was largely lecture based. Applied Master Grazer offers two field sessions in addition to one classroom session. The Kentucky Agricultural Development Board provides funding for the program

In the field sessions, producers will tour area farms where UK Cooperative Extension agents and farm managers will discuss what does and does not work in their operations, ways to improve problem areas and new strategies and techniques. Many of the farms on the tours are demonstration farms, where producers received cost-share dollars to do such things as improve watering systems and grow different forage varieties. The demonstration farms are spread across the state.

"Our goal is not to set up a grazing system for them, but to give them the tools they need to be comfortable to incorporate applicable principles into their operations," said Steve Moore, agriculture and natural resources extension agent in Henry County. 

Beginning March 18, Moore and agents in Shelby, Oldham and Trimble counties will host the state's first program. Participants in those counties will visit a demonstration farm as well as a non-demonstration farm, where they will use the knowledge they gained from the program to develop plans to increase the farm's grazing efficiency. 

"Ultimately, we hope this program allows producers to incorporate more of a forage base into their programs and increase their bottom lines," said Adam Probst, UK Master Grazer Program coordinator.

Program topics will vary between counties depending upon the needs and interests of area producers and the types of farms featured. Those wanting more information about Applied Master Grazer should contact their county's extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.