Lost Rivers Grazing Academy: Putting Information into the Hands of Graziers
Irrigated pastures don’t manage themselves. Yet livestock producers often fail to realize that they may be missing out on more than 50% of potential forage production simply by not implementing best grazing management practices on their irrigated pastures. Such complacency leads to reduced production and low harvesting efficiency. Improved pasture management can increase forage and animal production, resulting in greater profitability and sustainability for a grazing operation.
University of Idaho Extension Educators and specialists developed a hands-on grazing school to help livestock managers learn to improve grazing management on irrigated pastures. The Lost Rivers Grazing Academy is held annually in September at Eagle Valley Ranch near Salmon, Idaho. This intensive four-day workshop draws livestock producers from around the West, as well as from other countries, who want to improve their grazing management skills. The goal of LRGA is to help producers increase forage productivity, harvesting efficiency, animal performance and, in turn, their ranch income.
The workshop combines classroom and hands-on learning. Participants form teams based on experience so that each team has a mixture of grazing management experience. Teams compete in activities from diagnosing problems with electric fences to analyzing cow pies to determine the quality of forage those animals were eating. Each team is given a “mini-ranch” of a few acres of grass and 10-20 cows to manage during the workshop with specific objectives in mind. This hands-on approach provides instant feedback and an effective learning experience, as participants can see the results of their grazing decisions and discuss the results among themselves and with LRGA instructors.
Output & Outcomes:
- • LRGA attracts an average of 20 attendees each year from throughout the western United States, as well as Canada and Mexico. More than a few have returned to repeat the workshop, believing it was worth the investment of time and money. One Extension Educator from Virginia plans to borrow the concept to launch a grazing workshop in his own state.
- Participants in these workshops have come away with a better understanding of the principles involved in forage management and have put what they learned into practice on their livestock operations. An in-depth survey of LRGA alumni conducted in 2005 showed an increase of 32% in the number of grazing days per year per producer. LRGA alumni are developing, adopting and implementing more economically efficient and environmentally acceptable methods for harvesting and utilizing forages.
Rangeland Center Members involved:
- Scott Jensen - Owyhee County Extension (contact Scott for more information)
- Glenn Shewmaker - Kimberly Research and Extension Center
- Shannon Williams - Lemhi County Extension
Additional University of Idaho faculty:
- Chad Cheyney, emeritus Extension professor
- Les Nunn, Bear Lake County Extension
Partners & Sponsors:
- Eagle Valley Ranch, Salmon, Idaho
- Jim Gerrish, American Grazing Lands Services LLC