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Missouri Conference to Promote Grazing

11 June 2009

MISSOURI, US - Dairy cows that eat more grass in the pasture will eat less processed feed in the milking parlour. That cuts feed costs and makes the milk check go further.

Speakers at the second Missouri Dairy Grazing Conference will explain theory and practice of pasture-based dairies, July 8-10 at Joplin, Mo.

"This is for dairy producers who want to graze in the U.S.," said Joe Horner, University of Missouri Extension dairy economist.

The programme features MU Extension specialists in forage, economics, nutrient management and dairy. However, dairy producers will present a big part of the program, Horner said.

"The program features dairy producers from Missouri and New Zealand," he said. "Farmers like to hear the practical experience of other farmers." Those attending can tour grazing dairies before, during and after the conference.

Typically, grazing dairy operators divide their farms into pasture paddocks using electric fences. The milking herd is moved to a fresh paddock after each milking, morning and night.

Producers measure grass growth and enter the data into software that calculates a "grazing wedge," which producers use to decide which paddock is best for grazing next.

The first grazing conference, held at Monett, Mo., in 2006, attracted 200 people.

"We hope to draw a larger crowd this year and have moved to a bigger conference center," Horner said. The group will meet at the Holiday Inn, Joplin, Mo.

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