Training and Education Outreach to NRCS and University of California CES staff to Convey Animal Nutrition

2002 Annual Report for EW01-010

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2001: $81,950.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Federal Funds: $22,610.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $17,000.00
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Thomas Wehri
CA Association Resource Conservation Districts

Training and Education Outreach to NRCS and University of California CES staff to Convey Animal Nutrition


Early training of the NRCS Field Range Conservationist in January 2001 clearly indicated a need to educate those personnel who would assist the ranchers and producers of California in the use of the NUTBAL Program. This training was provided to 7 NRCS Field Range Conservationist in January 2002. To educate and provide outreach to ranchers requires joint coordination and information by the University of California Cooperative Extension and Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel, both with limited personnel and time. In addition, assurances were needed with agricultural organizations such as the California Cattleman’s Association and others that the proposed program would effectively work with California’s annual ranges. The University of California presently has several research activities under way for the purpose of evaluating California Rangeland Forage Quality and Evaluation of the Texas A&M Fecal NIRS System Prediction of Digestibility and Crude Protein using In Vivo Estimation. Early findings indicate a possible need for additional development of a seperate formula for California’s annual grasslands. When these evaluations are complete more accurate information on forage quality of the annual grassland will be available. Additional information will be complied with the findings from several case studies and forage quality fact sheets. This information will be provided to ranchers and others at workshops scheduled for 2003.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Increase understanding of animal nutrition by California ranchers.

Conduct training sessions for NRCS, UC Cooperative Extension, Resource Conservation District employees and Directors, and ranchers.

Increase the number of ranchers using Animal Nutrition and Forage Quality (ANFQ) technology (including ‘NUTBAL’ software) to improve operations.

Increase ranchers net income and encourage sustainable use of rangeland resources.

Develop case histories; written summary reports, PowerPoint slide presentation, and display board educational tools.

Poll students and ranchers before and after training, and at the close of the two-year period, to determine the increase in knowledge, skill, and capacity deriving from this effort.


Progress on the project moved well for the first three months with major training sessions for NRCS Field Range Conservationist. Seven from California attended a two-day training session on “NUTBAL” presented by Texas A&M instructors. This was followed by a 3 day Rangeland Mgt. Specialist Workshop from February 26 to March 1, 2002. All 11 NRCS Field Range Specialist were present as well as range and watershed instructors from University of California, Davis and UC Berkeley, and Agricultural Research Service.

In March NRCS State Range Specialist, Leonard Jolley, accepted a new position in Denver, Colorado and responsibly for the project was transferred to Ceci Dale-Cesmat, Range Conservationist Susanville CA. At the same time questions arose as to which organization should sign and be responsible for the contract. After much discussion the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) who was the subcontractor for implementing the original project accepted the project. Subcontract CO26106 was completed as of July 2, 2002 but it was to late to obtain much information for year 2002 annual range year.

The first local training session presented by CARCD, NRCS, and UCD Cooperative Extension was held on April 29, 2002 with several ranchers and agencies in attendance. Several trials were established as a result of the training session. Ceci Dale-Cesmat, Field Range Conservationist, administers these studies. As part of this session a training book and guide was developed and will be used at all local training sessions.

Currently University of California, Davis is conducting a research project to determine total digestible organic matter and crude protein levels in California native rangelands from June through November. Data from this trail will be compared to estimations from the existing Texas-based near infrared reflectance spectroscopy system based on fecal sampling. This will help valid this system under California conditions. This effort has just completed and we reviwed the findings to date, with the researchers and the University in January 2003. Findings seem to indicate additional development of the formula is required for the annual grasses. If this is true it is recommended additional effort go toward development of this material as part of this grant.

Due to the date of the signed contract and the change of personnel at NRCS it was determined not to hold additional training sessions until the State Range Conservationist position is filled by NRCS. This is estimated to be March 2003. At this time a full time person with a range or animal science degree will be hired by CARCD to implement all provisions of the project. Until we see the results of the prior years effort which is available in January 2003 and we can summarize all material and information collected by the lab and field staff we will have limited findings.

If additional development of an annual grass equation is needed it is recommended this material be developed with the University of California specialist and the University of Texas personnel. Associated with these findings and the changes at NRCS and the approval of the 2002 Farm Bill it is recommended the producers based workshops be replaced with presentations of the findings at 2 or 3 national, state, and/or stakeholders meetings.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Major accomplishments are planned in 2003. Following the review with UCD, Mel George, in January, the selection of the California State Range Conservationist for NRCS, and the employment of a specialist by CARCD the following performance are anticipated.

Completion of all collected samples and validation of “NUTBAL” program by UCD for California’s annual grazing land.

Completion of written summary report on all samples and findings of past 4 years.

Development of display board and PowerPoint presentation.

Completion of at least 4 case studies on effects and outcomes to the rancher as a result of using the ‘NUTBAL” software.

Completion of the ongoing research with UCD and correlation of these findings with Dr. Jerry Stuth and the grazing Lab Nutrition Lab.

Completion of 3 workshop or presentations on the findings of the completed research.

Complete poll of 10 ranchers to determine the increase on knowledge, skill, and capacity as a result of the program.

Development of final report on the findings of the 2-year program along with the development of a fact sheet and material for use in the NRCS Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG).

This study should result in technical supporting data and material, which leads to validation of the ‘NUTBAL’ software program for use on California’s annual grazing lands. The project will provide data and material, which will be included in the FOTG for NRCS and will enhance the use of the program by resident ranchers.

The completed training will benefit the producers of California and the west that use annual grazing lands in their operations. It is expected the increased knowledge will result in increased income to the producer through increased calving successes, decreased feeding cost, while increasing gains with better conditioned animals while improving rangeland conditions.


Jon Gustafson
State Range Conservationist
430 G St. #4164
Davis, CA 95616-4164
Office Phone: 5307925654
James Oltjen
Animal Management Systems Specialist
University of California
Department of Animal Science, 2153 Meyer Hall
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
Office Phone: 5307525650
Melvin George
State Extension Range and Pasture Specialist
UCD Cooperative Extension
Department of Agronomy and Range Science
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
Office Phone: 5307521720
Website: http//