Every year faculty, students and staff who work with forages at UK tour a region of Kentucky. This year we were joined by NRCS state grazing specialists Adam Jones (KY) and Greg Brann (TN). Day one started with a tour of Ike Boutwell’s grazing backgrounding system in Hardin county. Based on Mr. Boutwell’s system, he moves a million pounds of beef through his farm every year, with most of his cattle selling to Iowa. The next farm stop was Irvin Ramer’s organic grazing dairy in Todd County. Mr. Ramer’s Jersey milking herd obtains the majority of their feed throughout the grazing season from high quality pasture. His farm is also a location of a UK/UT project to determine what forage mixtures are best for organic dairy farmers. Within the next 3 years there will 60 organic dairies in KY (30 at present). To wrap up the first day, Menno Beiler gave the group a tour of the Kentucky Organic Farm and Feed Inc. (KOFFI) near Guthrie, KY. This feed mill is being substantially expanded and is currently shipping organic feed as far away as Florida.
Following an overnight stay at the Lake Barkley State Park, we toured a grass finished beef cattle farms in Calloway county, KY. The owners, Michael and Stacie Palmer raise and market their beef under the Palmer Farms Grass Finished Beef label. They prepared samples of their beef for the group to try – it was delicious! Our final producer stop was at Black Hawk Farm in Caldwell county where they finish and market high-end beef to restaurants in Louisville, Nashville, etc… These cattle are Angus crossed with purebred Wagoo bulls from Japan. The Wagoo cattle finish a little slower than typical American beef breeds, but they add substantial marbling in their last finishing months. This farm also produces 9,000 acres of white corn to ship to New Zealand for chicken production and make a high quality finishing ration with the grain screening, other products and forages. The 2017 Forage Workers Tour finished up with a trip to the UK Research and Education Center at Princeton, KY where the group learned what their fellow researchers are working on outside of Lexington. ~ AnnMarie Kadnar