Upcoming strategy session for farmers

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By Steve Moore


The American Forage and GrassLand Conference, the Kentucky Cattleman’s Conference, the Burley Tobacco Growers Conference, the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Grower, and meetings of the Kentucky Dairy Development Council and the Kentucky Horse Council were held last week in Lexington.

These meetings are open to local farmers, and several did take the opportunity to attend and hear from both state and national experts in the various farming enterprises.   It should be noted that there are Henry County farmers involved with the leadership of each of these groups and associations, and we can be proud of their commitment and leadership. 

While there was much to learn in all the sessions, a couple of the more intriguing happenings were found in the Forage and Grassland Conference where once again, a Kentucky Farmer was selected as the National Forage Spokesperson.

The path for this has been well worn since Larry Jeffries won the same competition more than 20 years ago.

The other intrigue came from the presentations made by Dr. Peter Ballerstedt, Barenbrug Seeds, with the topic “Beef, the Real Health Food.”

In his presentation, Ballerstedt challenges parts of the official U.S. dietary policies that began in 1977, which recommend restricting saturated fat and cholesterol intake.  Since animal products are a significant source of saturated fat and cholesterol, the official advice has been to limit their consumption in general and red meat in particular.

According to Ballerstedt, these guidelines were not justified by the science at the time, and subsequent research has disproven the hypothesis upon which they were based.  The groups listening to Ballerstedt’s presentation were indeed listening intently. 

For many years, the principal agricultural enterprises in Henry County have been tobacco, dairy, and beef.  And in recent history, all those enterprises have been the target of much negative publicity in the human health arena.  Wouldn’t it be nice to find that at least some of our product isn’t as bad as it has been made out to be?


Forages have played a critical role in Kentucky historically, yet the most important role for forages and indeed grazing is in the Future.  We can produce quality animal products with quality forages. We no longer have the luxury of substituting cheap energy and proteins for low quality forages. The good news is we don’t have to.

More producers are recognizing the value of forage quality, factors affecting quality and management required to achieve an acceptable quality to meet desired animal performance results.  According to Dr. Garry Lacefield, UK forage specialist, here’s how to get more VALUE from your pasture:

• Vegetative — Use appropriate grazing strategies to graze pastures in a leafy stage for best quality and animal performance.

• Availability — Strive through appropriate grazing management to keep pasture “available” at the right stage of growth (quality) so intake will be high followed by good animal performance.

• Legumes — Use them to achieve improved yields, better quality, more summer production and for “home-grown” nitrogen.

• Utilization – One of our greatest opportunities in pasture based animal agriculture is to use our pastures better. With some form of rotational grazing, we can use more of what we produce (waste less) use in higher quality stage (better animal performance) and use over more days of the year (less hay/baleage – more profit).

• Efficiency – Good genetics: healthy animals capable of utilizing forage efficiency make good forage programs better.


KSU’s Third Thursday Thing on Jan. 17, at their Mills Lane Farm near Frankfort will feature Kentucky Grape production.  Beginning at 10 a.m. and including a lunch, the program includes variety selection and value-added grape products (jellies and juices).  If you have been curious about getting into grapes for wine, table grapes, or otherwise, we think you’ll find this session ‘required reading.’ Hope you can make it.


We also hope you can attend the pasture and hay improvement Strategies for 2013 meeting at the Henry County Extension Office, at 7 p.m. Jan. 28. UK Extension Specialists Dr. Garry Lacefield (forages) and Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler (beef nutrition) will present this session via an internet feed called Lync.   In order for us to have our meeting materials handy for you, please call to register at 845-2811.