More than ever, you need to be in control of your operation. Cows are lousy business managers. Don’t leave the critical management decisions up to cows. They don’t care whether you make a dime or not. Your job is to create a ranch environment where the cow can be the best cow she can be. You need to manage the business side of the ranch and not try to do the cow’s job for her. If you don’t understand what that means, then you really need to attend this workshop. -Jim Gerrish

Internationally known expert on forage livestock systems, Jim Gerrish of American GrazingLands Services LLC, is returning to Kansas for two 2-day workshops on grazing management as it applies to the livestock business from October 28-31, 2013.

Gerrish has 20 years of systems research and outreach experience as a faculty member at the University of Missouri, as well as many years of commercial cattle and sheep production. University of Missouri’s Forage Systems Research Center rose to national prominence as a result of Gerrish’s research and leadership. His research encompasses many aspects of plant-soil-animal interactions and provides a foundation for many of the basic principles of management intensive grazing.

Each two-day workshop will include information and discussion on the following topics: Grazing Basics 101 for Improved Plant Performance, Cattle Management 101, To Hay or Not to Hay, and Designing Grazing Systems including fencing and water development.

The workshops will be held October 28-29 at Ramada Hotel, Salina, KS from 9:00 AM-4:00 PM and October 30-31 at Pratt Community College, Pratt, KS from 9:00 AM-4:00 PM. Cost of the workshop is $80.00 which includes handouts and food. This 2-day workshop is an extremely “sweet” deal. Grazing workshops with experts typically cost much more than $80.00. Attendees are responsible for their own lodging.

For more information and registration visit: or contact Mary Howell at or 785-562-8726.

Partners for the grant are Kansas Farmers Union, Kansas Graziers, NRCS, Kansas Grazing Land Coalition, and Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops.

Better management of forage resources with rest and recovery of the plant will create increased production on grazing acres.
Continuous grazing stresses the plant health of the desired forage species. Retaining an adequate amount of leaf area promotes photosynthesis. Increased photosynthesis feeds the roots which in turn grow more forage. When overgrazed, the good plants that the cows like weaken and may eventually die allowing the less desirable forages and forbs to increase. As a result of the drought, many pastures are showing greater numbers of undesirable species and less of the desired grasses.
Prioritizing the herd helps ensure that the culling order reflects the goals and needs of the operation.
Every ranch has cows that rank in the top 1/3 of producing females, the bottom 1/3 of the poorest performing cows and the middle third. Cows are employees of the ranch. The ranch manager should always be keeping track of the bottom third and work to eliminate those animals that are not fulfilling their job description as mothers, whatever the reason. Especially in times of drought, those cows could go to town and the resources they consume be reallocated to the better performing 2/3’s of the herd. This type of critical culling results in continual improvement of the herd.
It is always easier to retain body condition on the cow rather than to try to feed extra to put the pounds back on her after weaning.
Cows that head into fall and winter thin will most likely: remain at a lower nutritional state, calve thinner, and possibly not re-breed for the following season. The cows that are experiencing drought condition grazing will benefit from early weaning. The pressure from producing milk will be lessened and the cow will remain in better shape. It is much cheaper to feed the calf than to feed the cow extra to meet her nutritional needs.
The goal of any grazing management system should be to extend the grazing season and reduce or eliminate the need for hay. Each farm and ranch has unique resources; the key is to match grazing animals to those forage resources.
Gerrish says, “Normally, we’ve responded to forage supply issues by feeding hay. Today, however, the costs associated with hay have risen five to ten times faster than the price of cattle. A lot of times, feeding hay is just a bad habit.
Knowing the nutritional requirements of livestock enables you to match forage resources to animals and determines your production schedule. Cows have their highest protein requirement at peak lactation and highest energy demand from calving to rebreeding. Compare when cows require peak forage with when the forage peaks. For cow-calf producers, forage quality and availability should determine the production schedule. Think in terms of whether your calves are born on green grass or dormant grass; February is not spring calving and August is not fall calving. Peak lactation should sync with peak forage supply.”
Year-round grazing is more than a matter of supply and demand. Discussion will include other alternative grazing forages–legumes, winter annuals and brassicas–that can be added to increase nutrition and lessen pressure on permanent grass. Winter strip grazing extends grazing quality and limits the traffic and degradation of the forage. Figuring available forage can be like counting bales. Monitoring forage, diversifying pastures, and stockpiling forage can help producers establish a forage inventory with “trigger points” that dictate when it’s time to destock.