The second day of the June 21-23 American Forage & Grassland Council Annual Conference – tour day – promises to be a highlight. The conference, which offers a wealth of research information for growers, graziers, university specialists and others, will be held at the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield, MO.
Conference participants who register early enough will be bused, on June 22, to farms, experiment stations or seed companies to see research turned into reality. They will have three tours to choose from, visiting hay, beef and dairy operations.
The hay tour will include a journey to Windy Ridge Farms, owned by Clyde and Belinda Jones, Marionville, who are primarily alfalfa and orchardgrass hay producers. They are big believers in hay testing, evaluating varietal differences and searching for the best hay varieties to use.
Jim and Byron Stine Farms, located at Clever, are also alfalfa and cool-season grass hay producers who continually work to improve hay quality. They have traditionally marketed a significant amount of hay to horse producers, raise Haflinger horses and maintain a beef-cow operation.
Schallert Bros. Seed Co., Purdy, MO, owned by Ralph and Curtis Schallert, is one of the largest fescue seed producers in southwestern Missouri. The Schallerts have also developed a successful background operation that utilizes ammoniation to convert their fescue seed byproduct – low-quality fescue stubble – into a high-quality feedstuff.
The beef tour will check out Danny Biglieni Farms, Republic, MO. About 850 heifers are backgrounded each year in the high-rent district of Springfield suburbs; Biglieni also rents 80% of his 850 acres of pasture. He may also discuss some of his marketing strategies.
Darrel Franson of Shiloh Land & Cattle Co., Mt. Vernon, MO, keeps meticulous records; he’s able to show how, over the last 25 years, his cow days/acre have changed each time he adopted a new forage management practice. Franson currently runs 76 Angus-Simmental fall-calving cows, backgrounds their calves the next summer, and harvests all of his hay on only 140 acres.
The tour of the University of Missouri Southwest Center Research Station, Mt. Vernon, will include a look at a long-term residual feed intake (RFI) project assessing the genetic linkages of RFI in mother-cow herds. Most current RFI research has been conducted in feedlots or at bull test stations; this projects extends to the pasture setting with the cow herd. Consumption data is collected while cows are on endophyte-infected fescue pastures.
The dairy tour takes a look at Charles Fletcher Farms, Purdy, MO, a 320-cow, pasture-based operation including 235 effective acres and an adjoining 55 acres of leased pasture. Fletcher uses a three-way crossbreeding program, with 60% calving in spring and 40% in fall. The tour also takes conference goers to Grasslands Dairy LLC in Wentworth, MO. The dairy is pasture-based, operated using a sharemilker agreement.