A charter bus tour of successful forage and livestock farms occurred in LaGrange and Steuben Counties on August 27, 2018 was organized by the Indiana Forage Council. The tour entitled, “Excellent Forage Management Makes a Difference,” show cased four farms that are utilizing successful forage management systems and marketing methods of forage-fed livestock.
An emphasis on inputs and management strategies that have improved the profitability and sustainability of each farm visited was shared with attendees. At the Stan and Deb Notestine farm the emphasis was on the equipment used to harvest and transport hay they sell as a cash crop. They were very up-to-date with equipment used to be successful hay producers. The next stop was at Courtright Farms. Jim Courtright was one of the first in the state of Indiana to use management-intensive rotational grazing on his beef farm. One of the unique components of this stop was evaluating the fields with the use of a drone with the expertise of Bill Horan, Wells County Purdue University Extension Educator. Country Meadows Farm, a dairy cattle farm that utilizes center pivot irrigated high quality forages as pasture, was visited first after lunch. Bob, Debbie and Bryan Eash discussed how they fertilize the pasture through the center pivot irrigation system and how they monitor pasture growth in each pasture on a weekly schedule. The last farm visited was Lewis Century Stock Farms. Brian and Riley Lewis shared with attendees how they establish and harvest the high quality alfalfa that is fed as bale silage to their dairy cattle. A demonstration of a large square alfalfa hay bale being wrapped in plastic was demonstrated at this site.
Implementation of these systems and marketing methods will likely occur with some tour attendees based on results from a post-tour survey provided.
From the desk of Jason Tower, President, Indiana Forage Council and Chair of the Heart of America Grazing Conference Executive Committee.
The Indiana Forage Council organized and hosted the 17th annual Heart of America Grazing Conference this past January 22 – 23, 2019. The event was well attended by producers, educational and state agricultural personnel. The conference would not be possible without our conference sponsor Indiana State Department of Agriculture though a livestock development grant. Also very important to our event were our corporate sponsors Grazing Systems Supply, The CISCO Companies and Becks Hybrids, Missouri GLCI/Forage Council and Illinois GLCI. Through the efforts of these organizations and companies, as well as our many tradeshow vendors, the conference would not be able to be offered at a reasonable registration cost.
Featured speakers for the event included Dr. RP Cooke, 499 Ranch, and Dr. Dennis Fennewald, Tennessee Tech, working together to cover the topics of “Grazing to Change Pasture Composition and Strategic Supplementation on Pasture”. We also had the pleasure of having Dr. Scott Barao, Jorgenson Family Foundation – Hedgeapple Farm, cover two great topics, “Starting a Grass-fed Beef Operation and Selecting the Correct Genetics for a Forage Based Beef Operation”. Other topics of interest during the conference included “Grazing Technologies and Red Clover, More than Just Nitrogen”.
Special thanks goes out to all the conference speakers that shared a wealth of information on a broad range of topics. Big thanks also goes to the Indiana Forage Council board members for all their help and input prior to the event and during the event to allow all things to run smoothly.
The 18th Heart of America Grazing Conference will be held this fall, October 29 – 30, 2019, in Burlington, Kentucky. This event is being organized by our friends in Kentucky. The conference will feature Jim Gerrish. We look forward to seeing you this fall.