Blogging about the Establishment of a Manage Intensive Grazing Farm in Missouri that is Environmentally Friendly

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $7,482.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, rye, soybeans, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, animal protection and health, grazing management, range improvement, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, stocking rate, watering systems, winter forage
  • Crop Production: crop rotation, cover crops, double cropping
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, marketing management
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, riparian buffers, soil stabilization, wildlife
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems

    Proposal summary:

    Using an established website blog along with partnering with MO Beginner Farmers I will write and promote my farming experience. With the partnership I will increase my exposure and share the information. I will show how I selected my farm and the decisions that I used to make before the purchase. I will create a mini-video series teaching people how I planned for the purchase of the farm, designed the paddocks, chose water points, and selected forages. The videos will be embedded on the website, Facebook, and YouTube. To highlight my environmental practices the farm will have two types of riparian buffers. The first type will primarily be native warm season grasses with native flowers. The other will have trees and shrubs planted to provide cover for the wildlife. These buffers will reduce sediments entering the intermitting stream. These buffers demonstrate how modern farmers are trying to reduce contaminates from getting into the water ecosystems. When farmers use good environmental practices they are more likely to avoid costly issues with federal agencies. All of these issues will be shared on the internet. Social media will be used to inform the public on the demands and inputs required to operate a farm. Blogging and Tweeting are useful forms of communicating to the public. I will also target my posts for those who are not farmers but the consumers who may not have ever been on the farm. Since consumers are increasingly unaware of how food is produced they need to be reached on a platform that they use. Current Search Engine Optimization tools will be employed in order to fully inform the public. I will also send links to my blog to various agriculture organizations such as FFA chapters and 4-H.

    I would like to plant high yielding varieties of fescue, clover, and lespedeza mix in three paddocks in my upland area. Thefescues will be novel endophyte fescues. There is limited research available on the total pounds per acre that these new fescues produce in Missouri. More research needs to be conducted. Due to the diversity of the terrain of my farm I am able to evaluate both upland and bottomland varieties of forages. On my upland I would like to plant the novel fescues as it has better persistence to dry weather and in the bottom lands I will plant a endophyte free fescue. Endophyte free fescues also allow for a good rate of gain. There are studies from various universities, to include University of Missouri, that have rates of gain of stocker cattle that grazed endophyte infected KY31 fescue. I can use those studies to compare results. While I have different forages available for the stockers to eat in addition to fescue grass the main forage planted will be improved fescues. It is my intent to plant two of my bottom paddocks in a fescue/legume mix. The fescues will be endophyte free rather than novel endophyte fescue. The reason I chose endophyte free vs. novel endophyte fescue for the bottom ground is that they are more water tolerate according to the seed supplier. The paddocks will have a red clover that tolerates water and birdsfoot trefoil. I also have one small four acre paddock. This paddock has some seasonal rain water that collects in a low area. It will have native warm season grasses planted along with birdsfoot trefoil, native flowers, and lespedeza. This also demonstrates the variety of forages that are available to farmers. Currently there is only one cattle waterer for my bottom paddocks. Research in the Missouri Grazing Manual has shown that cattle should not travel greater than 800ft to a water source. When they have to walk 800ft watering becomes a social event and pasture utilization goes down 20%. It then drops to 30% at 1000ft. At new water line shall be installed to provide water to the western most paddocks to reduce the greater walking distances.

    I will also plant seven acres of alfalfa to supplement the summer forage protein source and three acres of a chicory/clover mix. These forages should allow for a high protein source in the summer to supplement feed costs. The cattle will be grazed for only few hours in either of the fields every few days to increase gain and reduce bloat opportunities that Alfalfa tends to induce. A bloat inhibitor will be given to the animals to further reduce the risk. Alfalfa has the potential to produce high tonnage amounts, which is required for a good stocker operation. This will eliminate or reduce the need to purchase extra feed in order to keep production costs down. Since grazing annuals are not widely used I will plant grazing corn followed by soybeans for a double cropping system. Soybeans produce a very cheap protein that is needed for a stocker operation. It also produces several tons of forage per acre. This also will be strip grazed. Then a cover crop will be planted to reduce weed growth. Randomly selected cattle will be weighed prior to grazing the summer annuals and then those animals will be weighed again after grazing.

    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.