The Virginia Forage and Grassland Council and Virginia Cooperative Extension Service are sponsoring a series of winter forage conferences for horse owners and beef producers in January and February. The theme is "Building Robust Grazing Systems -- Drought-Proofing Your Pastures." According to Chris Teutsch, extension forage specialist at the Virginia Tech Southern Piedmont Agriculture Research and Education Center, Blackstone, "We are going to be looking at ways people can make their pastures more resilient to help prepare for another drought."

The beef program will include presentations about stocking rates; drought-tolerant grazing systems for grass-finished beef; cost-effective fencing and watering systems; and conserved forage, crop residues and byproducts as components of drought management. Dates and locations are Jan. 21 at Rowe's restaurant in Harrisonburg, VA; Jan. 22 at the Southwest 4-H Center in Abingdon, VA; Jan. 23 at the Southern Livestock Center near Oxford, NC; and Jan. 21 at the Blackstone research and education center.

Equine program speakers will focus on grazing behavior and health, manure and soil management, toxic plants, alternative forage species and extending the hay supply. Dates and locations are Feb. 11 at the Ruritan Building in Chesapeake, VA; Feb. 12 at the MARE Center in Middleburg, VA; and Feb. 13 at the Alphin-Stuart Livestock Arena in Blacksburg.

Contact Margaret Kenny at 434-292-5331 for registration information. Questions about the beef program can be directed to Teutsch at 434-292-5331, ext. 234, or Shea Porr can answer questions about the equine program. Call 540-687-3521, ext. 27, or email