Amazing Grazing II kicked off with the return of Jim Gerrish to Kansas August 13-14 in Topeka and August 15-16, 2014 in Manhattan. Two 2-day workshops were conducted for different animal types with separate topics for each one.
Ranch Management for Successful Winter and Year Round Grazing of Beef Cattle was held with 45 in attendance at Topeka. The goal for this workshop was to find ways for ranchers to make their operations more profitable by managing cow costs. Gerrish teaches that cows are lousy business managers, and that “The easiest money that one makes is that which he does not spend.” This workshop focused on planning for year round grazing, adding forages that will provide winter grazing, integrating crop residue into the grazing mix, making the cow work for the ranch, the basics of developing a portable fence and watering system, evaluating the economic value of ranch practices including installation of water and fencing improvements, and differing grazing options. Jim closed with a presentation on “What is Time?” to make ranchers realize the value and importance of how they choose to use the time they have.
The Pasture-Based Sheep and Goat Production, Management, and Marketing workshop followed in Manhattan with Jim Gerrish, Dr. Brian Faris, and Joseph Hubbard as instructors. 35 attendees with all levels of sheep and goat experience comprised the audience that learned the basics of Management-intensive Grazing (MiG), planning a sheep and goat farm, proper time to kid or lamb, animal selection, developing fence and water, and what really matters with grazing, browsing, and weed control. Dr. Faris, department head of KSU’s new sheep and goat facility, gave ranchers a tour of the new facility and Gerrish participated in a pasture walk where students learned pasture management, plant growth, and identification. Dr. Faris spoke on management of herd health and parasites. Local sheep and goat producer Joseph Hubbard, Olsburg, shared his operation with the audience, and explained how he direct markets everything straight from the farm. A discussion followed around Gerrish’s presentation on the importance of local marketing: the difference between producing food rather than a commodity, and how it benefits the local community.
The Topeka Ramada was the site September 9, for Mark Green’s Livestock Water Development and Electric Fence Workshop. Green is an NRCS Grazing Specialist from Missouri who has spent his entire career either working directly on ranches or with producers as a specialist. Water is the number one limiting factor when planning a grazing system. 35 ranchers and industry personnel were in attendance to learn about livestock water needs, availability, various watering options, and how added water improves grazing distribution and flexibility to the ranch. The afternoon was spent on various fencing possibilities and the basics of designing a rotational grazing system to manage animal movement and provide rest and recovery for the grass. Green brought for display a large collection of water and fencing equipment for ranchers to view to understand how they work. He also demonstrated different fencing techniques that will help producers when they return home to put into practice the tips of the day. Green knows what works well, and shared ideas to avoid when building a system. The tips he has learned through the years can help ranchers build their water systems and fence better from the start.