Both two-day schools reached maximum capacity with a waiting list for 2011. Participants represented 44 counties and six other states and collectively had an estimated 22,000 acres and 8,800 livestock.

During the schools, producers received hands-on training on the practical management of grazing systems for ruminant livestock, including beef and dairy cattle, goats and sheep. Along with field exercises, participants received classroom training and toured UK forage demonstration plots. While both schools covered many of the same topics, some were region specific. By the end of the school, participants designed a grazing system based on their own property.

At the end of the class, participants indicated some of the most common grazing practices they would incorporate into their own operations included developing a rotational grazing system, decrease hay feeding by extending the grazing season, renovate pastures with legumes, and soil test and apply lime and fertilizer to pastures. These improved practices have an estimated direct economic impact of more than $1.5 million.

"With our grazing schools, two-thirds of the producers that attended have been able to increase forage utilization by using temporary fencing and are able to harvest more of the pasture they produce," Probst said. "Over 60 percent of the producers who have graduated from one of our grazing schools have also increased pasture quality by incorporating legumes, such as clover, and they have extended their grazing season by stockpiling the tall fescue that they already have."

The next grazing school will be April 13 and April14 at the UK Research and Education Center in Princeton. Pre-registration is required. Those interested can preregister by contacting Probst at 859-257-0597 or at adam.probst@uky.edu or their county Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.

The Master Grazer Program also established 42 demonstration farms across the state. Demonstration farm owners receive cost-share dollars to make grazing improvements like installing watering systems and growing different forage varieties. Through this program, participating producers have been able to either maintain their herd size and decrease the amount of days they feed hay, feed a larger herd on the same amount of stored feed, or maintain their herd size and the amount of stored feed but stocker farm-raised calves and sell heavier.

These improved grazing practices have an estimated economic impact of $234,000. In return, these farms host field days for local Extension and Master Grazer programs where they highlight their grazing efficiencies.

More information on the Master Grazer Program is available at county Extension offices or by contacting Probst.