[Note to online version: The report for this project includes a report of survey results which could not be included here. The regional SARE office will mail a hard copy of the entire report at your request. Just contact Western SARE at (435) 797-2257 or firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Twenty Natural Resource Conservation Service and Cooperative Extension resource professionals from six western states attended the second Grazing Academy for Resource Professionals. The program was held May 4-7, 1999, at the Sustainable Ranching Research and Extension Center at the University of California Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center in northern California.
Participants received four days of hands-on experience applying controlled grazing principles and learning ranch and grazing planning techniques. Topics addressed included range ecology, grazing management, and livestock nutrition. Participants were also shown how to:
– Design effective and low cost ranch infrastructure
– Evaluate the economic impact of resource decisions
– Design on farm grazing systems research and demonstration trials
– Effectively extend useful information on controlled grazing
Participants were also given a curriculum to use (including a slide set) to conduct seminars on management intensive grazing practices. The course workbook was enclosed as part of last year’s annual report. Using a small Renewable Resources Extension Act grant, we produced The California Grazing Academy Audio Tape Series. The series is a set of four audiotape programs on various aspects of controlled grazing. Each participant was given a set of the tapes.
A survey of resource professionals was conducted in 2000. One objective of the study was to conduct a follow-up survey to evaluate the effectiveness of the training and materials received during the training. The use of a survey would be a way to get further feedback from participants after they got home and had some time to put to use what they had teamed.
All survey respondents had at least some influence on decisions affecting management practices. Over 44% either shared or were responsible for making the decision on which management practices are used. This is important because the total number of acres that survey respondents served in totaled over 34 million acres.
The long-term usefulness of Grazing Academy materials noted as most prevalent by survey respondents were in the areas of grazing principles, grazing planning, and fence construction. The 5 grazing principles are the foundation of the Grazing Academy. In addition, grazing planning is the most effective tool in being successful in implementing these principles. This means that survey respondents were finding the most long term use out of two of the most important topics covered.
All survey respondents rated the course notebook as most useful. A series of audiotapes that covered topics from the Grazing Academy was split evenly between most useful and useful. A slide set and script on controlled grazing was given to all resource professional participants. This slide set was used by 34.5% of survey respondents in a total of 17 presentations that reached 291 people. Of survey respondents who had used the slide set, 60% rated it most useful and 40% somewhat useful.
When asked if they felt they could adequately address producer questions and concerns regarding material covered at the Grazing Academy, 79.3% of survey respondents said yes. The most common educational methods used to address producers by survey respondents were through consultations and review of management plans.
During the six months prior to receiving the survey, 41% of respondents reported advising 10 or more people on controlled grazing. Another 34% of survey respondents reported an average increase of 13.5% in controlled grazing information requests since attending the Grazing Academy.
• Conduct a four-day course teaching the practical application of research based management strategies that optimize economic, environmental, and social sustainability of livestock and dairy production.
• Develop, demonstrate, and distribute a curriculum that educators can use to teach ranchers and dairy farmers sustainable alternatives to conventional practices.
• Teach research design and methods needed to conduct sustainable livestock production research and demonstration programs.
• Develop a web page on the Internet and a newsletter to provide follow-up support and training for alumni.
• Survey alumni annually to evaluate the effectiveness of training and follow-up support.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Other than ongoing communication with Grazing Academy alumni, we have no plans to disseminate findings.
Educational Informational Materials Produced
We produced a participant workbook and a slide set with a script. The workbook includes over 30 articles and a dozen exercises our alumni can publish in local newsletters or reproduce and use as handouts at meetings they conduct.
Topics of articles include:
• Range ecology & evaluating range health
• Controlled grazing principles & practices
• Estimating carrying capacity
• Low stress livestock handling
• Troubleshooting grazing problems
• Managing through drought
• Range nutrition & supplementation principles and practices
• Body condition scoring
• Feed budgeting
• Grazing planning
• Grazing cell design
• Fencing (13 articles)
• Water development
The workbook includes exercises on:
• Estimating carrying capacity
• Evaluating range health
• Feed budgeting
• Grazing planning
• Assessing the impacts of past management practices
• Determining appropriate rest and graze periods
• Determining the number of paddocks needed to implement controlled grazing
• Troubleshooting range health, management, animal performance and other potential problems
• Creating the infrastructure to implement controlled grazing
• Determining the supplementation needs of grazing animals
• Determining (in broad terms) the calving season that best matches the animal’s cycle with the forage cycles
• Projecting the economic consequences of management decision.
A slide set and script were also included in the workbook. The workbook was sent with last year’s report.
We conducted a four-day course teaching the practical application of research-based management strategies that optimize economic, environmental, and social sustainability of livestock and dairy production.
We developed, demonstrated, and distributed a curriculum that educators can use to teach ranchers and dairy farmers sustainable alternatives to conventional practices.
We discussed research design and methods needed to conduct sustainable livestock production research and demonstration programs.
We developed a web page on the Internet to provide follow-up support and training for alumni.
Survey of both Resource Professional Grazing Academies was conducted in 2000. See attached report.
Our alumni have more knowledge, improved skill and useful resources to respond to inquiries about controlled grazing and other practices that improve the sustainability of livestock production. They have a better understanding of the challenges of systems research and have seen examples of how to conduct useful research and demonstrations.
The instructors and coaches discussed the content and format of the program when it was completed and concluded that there wasn’t anything we would do differently next time. We thought the program went exceptionally well, as did most participants. We will continue to review participant recommendations to improve the next program.
Based on survey results, there may be a need for further training in economics and facilitating goal setting with producers.