300 Days of Grazing
Livestock producers have suffered and continue to suffer from increasing input costs. Never in history have the cost of feed, fertilizer and fuel increased so dramatically over a short period of time. Producers are challenged to determine what management adjustments are right for their operation. Some have already chosen not to purchase expensive fertilizer while others reduced the amount of fertilizer based upon what they could afford. Some producers have adjusted livestock numbers while others cut costs in other areas. Regardless of how livestock producers elect to manage their costs, production may be negatively impacted, and many livestock producers will be faced with economic losses in the coming years.
In an effort to help livestock producers with managing their “bottom line,” the 300 Day Grazing Program was developed. Since the cost of feed, fertilizer and fuel have increased, the goal of the 300 Day Grazing Program is to implement management changes to enhance the utilization of grown forages and reduce dependency on fertilizer, supplemental feed and fuel.
Farm demonstrations were developed to illustrate management practices to increase the number of grazing days, reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizer and to improve storing and hay-feeding efficiency. These demonstrations are designed to measure outcomes in order to determine savings or improved returns over conventional management. All livestock (beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses, sheep and goats) can participate in and benefit from the 300 Day Grazing Program demonstrations. The demonstrations include:
1) Stockpiled forages
a. warm season
b. cool season
2) Improving grazing management (rotational grazing)
3) Complimentary forages
a. winter annuals
b. summer annuals
4) Legume establishment
5) Efficient hay management
a. reducing storage loss
b. reducing feeding loss
The protocol for each demonstration is listed below:
- Stockpile bermudagrass
- Stockpile fescue
- Improving grazing management
- Cool season annuals
- Warm season annuals
- Legumes in forage systems
- Minimizing hay feeding losses
- Minimizing hay storage losses
All of the 300 Day Grazing Program demonstrations can have a positive impact on increasing the number of grazing days, reducing nitrogen fertilizer needs, or improving hay management efficiency. Implementing one of these demonstrations may not reach the goal of 300 days of grazing with only 60 to 65 days of hay feeding. Therefore, a few farms will be selected to demonstrate how these management practices can be implemented cumulatively to achieve 300 days of grazing. The application deadline for the 300 Day of Grazing Whole Farm Program is October 1, 2008. The 300 Day Grazing Program demonstrations and Whole Farm Program is a three-year commitment.
Contact your local county agent, if you are interested in participating with one or more of the 300 Day Grazing Program demonstrations. In order to be considered for the 300 Day Grazing Program, an application must be completed by the livestock producer and the county agent.