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Conference lets producers graze over smorgasbord of topics

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Heart of America Grazing Conference scheduled for Jan. 21-22 in Columbus, Ind., will help growers take advantage of improved grazing systems.

“We hope to create an awareness of some of the niche markets that exist such as raising pastured pork, pastured poultry, replacement dairy heifers or grazing stocker calves,” said Brad Shelton, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service educator and co-conference planner. “If youre selling commodity beef at an auction barn, you have to take what they are willing to pay, but you can help determine your own bottom line with value-added products.

“If you can become more efficient and utilize your pasture and land, reduce costs on feed and fertilizer, you are likely to be more profitable in these uncertain times.”

Shelton said organizers also hope attendees receive a better understanding of grazing in general.

The conference, at the Holiday Inn, will cover a variety of topics, including forage growth and development, ultra-high stock density grazing, getting started in management-intensive grazing, and improving the existing management-intensive grazing system, Shelton said.

The conference will begin with registration and a trade show from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21, followed by a brief welcome and dinner.

Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Inc., of Swoope, Va., will be the featured speaker. Salatin will discuss his operation, which includes the raising and marketing of salad bar beef, pigaerator pork, pastured poultry, forage-based rabbits and forestry products.

Early registration is due Dec. 19 and costs $65 per person or $55 for the second individual from the same farm or operation for the full conference. Early registration to attend one day of the conference costs $40 per person and $35 for the second individual from the same farm. After Dec. 19, registration costs $75 for the full conference and $50 for one day. Checks should be made payable to the Indiana Forage Council and mailed to Keith Johnson, 915 West State St., West Lafayette, IN 47907. Meals with registration after Jan. 15 cannot be guaranteed. More information and a registration brochure are available at

Topics and speakers include:

  • Patriotic tribute, Garry Lacefield, University of Kentucky Extension forage specialist.
  • Understanding forage growth and development of grasses and legumes, Ray Smith, University of Kentucky Extension specialist, and Lacefield.
  • Ultra-high stock density grazing, Salatin.
  • Getting started in management of intensive grazing, Robert Zupancic and Susannah Hinds, Natural Resources Conservation Service specialists.
  • Keeping management-intensive grazing going, Charlie Carter, Carterly Family Farms in Thorntown, Ind.
  • Marketing your farm-raised products, Salatin.
  • Using sheep and goats in a grazing environment, Lori Snyder and Mike Neary, Purdue Extension specialists.
  • Economic flexibility in grazing stockers and replacement dairy heifers, Dave Nuhring, Grazing Systems Supply.
  • Alternative forages in our grazing operations, Keith Johnson, Purdue Extension forage management specialist; Brett Glick from Columbus; and Roger Robinson from Orleans, Ind.

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Holiday Inn at Columbus for $79 plus tax until Dec. 19. The hotel is located east of Interstate 65 at Exit 68 in south central Indiana.

For questions and more information contact Shelton at (812) 883-4601 or

The conference is sponsored by the Indiana Forage Council, Indiana Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, Missouri Forage and Grassland Council, Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, Purdue Extension, Ohio State University Extension, University of Illinois Extension, University of Kentucky Extension, University of Missouri Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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