Developing a Large-Scale Rotational Grazing System to Improve the Sustainability of and Profitability of a Cow-Calf Operation in Appalachia

Final Report for FNC03-490

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2003: $6,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $27,885.00
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
John Lehman
Washington Farms, Ltd
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Project Information


Our operation consists of approximately 650 acres. We have converted this 650 acre tract to grassland to support our herds of commercial beef cattle and registered cattle. Our purpose on this project was to implement intensive rotational grazing for our commercial beef operation. Before receiving this grant we did not practice any sustainable practices.

Our goal for our operation was to maximize tonnage of our grassland through successful implementation of cattle rotation. This would in turn minimize the need for the purchase of feedstock and help to maximize our operation’s profitability.

• Our personnel attended several grazing conferences prior to implementing the program
• Our personnel attended Advance Management Training School and consulted with Shamrock Vale Farms in September 2003

PROCESS – Conducting the Project
• We installed watering systems with gravity feed and developed a pond to utilize as a reservoir.
• We developed eight new springs with catch basins and concrete 500 gallon water tanks.
• We erected extensive fence line to exclude streams.
• We built five-strand-high tensile fence to exclude woodland areas and create perimeter boundaries.
• We broke our large pastureland up into smaller paddocks to facilitate our rotational grazing system.

• Our personnel consulted with Steve Hibinger of NRCS of Zanesville and with Kevin Wagner of Washington County Soil and Water. They advised us in the layout and use of the irrigating systems.
• We consulted extensively with Scott Bauerbock of Green Valley Coop. He assisted us in the advising and implementation of the grazing systems.
• Our personnel met with and consulted with Earl and Dan McKarns of Shamrock Vale Farms. They have been invaluable to us in advising our operation about the care, grazing and feeding of our cattle.

• We have been able to maximize our tonnage of hay.
• We lengthened the time that our animals have been able to graze thereby considerably reducing fall stockpiling.
• We have reduced the amount of hay needed for winter carryover.
• We have increased the growth rate of our spring calves.

This rotational grazing project has enabled our relatively new commercial beef cattle operation to become more efficient in our feeding methods. It has also taught us how to better care for our fields to insure that they remain healthy and sustainable for years to come.

While this is only our second year of operation, as compared to the beginning year, our calves were larger and maintained an increased rate of gain.

We communicated information about our project through our attendance at the local farm meetings as well as direct mail to our mailing list of farm neighbors, vendors, suppliers, farm agencies, media outlets, etc.

We had about 50 interested parties in attendance for our Rotational Grazing Program Field Day on October 2nd, 2004. We intend to discuss the results of our 2004 rotational grazing program at future community farm meetings in our area.

As a new participant in the SARE Program, this grant program has been an invaluable resource for our beef cattle operation. It enabled us to assemble terrific resources for the education of our personnel and helped us in the planning of important rotational grazing techniques that will assist us in keeping our operation efficient and sustainable in the future. We are looking forward to participating in the program again to continue our education and learn new and important techniques that will help us keep our operation profitable in the future.


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.