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Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: Education      Business      Technology      


  • 1. USE OF A PRODUCER DISCUSSION GROUP FOR PASTURE-BASED DAIRY EDUCATION Probert, T.R. 1; Hambelton, S.L.2; Hamilton, S.A.3; Kenyon, S.L.4; Prewitt, W.R. 5; Rickard, T.R. 6; Schmitz, E.G.7 1Regional Dairy Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Hartville, MO, 65667 2Agriculture Business Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Gainesville, MO, 65606 3State Dairy Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Mount Vernon, MO, 65712 4Agronomy Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Alton, MO, 65606 5Agriculture Business Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Nevada, MO, 64772 6Regional Dairy Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Cassville, MO, 65625 7Regional Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, Warsaw, MO, 65355 AbstractIn recent years southern Missouri has seen an increased prevalence of pasture-based dairyfarming. This trend has led to the need for extension educational efforts addressing this particularstyle of milk production. In searching for the best methods to teach pasture-based dairy production,local extension workers collaborated with producers to organize a pasture-based dairy discussiongroup. The group was formed under the premise that extension faculty would organize andfacilitate group activities, but teaching would be a responsibility shared by both faculty and Methodologyproducers. Producers and extension faculty alike recognized that opportunities for learning neededto include not only formal teaching methods, but also opportunities for producers to learn through Discussion group learning is accomplished through utilizing a mix of formal and informal learninginteraction with each other. To facilitate this cooperative learning, the group holds monthly “pasture environments. Some topics are most easily addressed in a classroom setting. Record keeping andwalks” throughout the grazing season. Each month’s excursion is held on a different group financial issues for example are most frequently topics of wintertime workshops held in an indoormember’s farm, rotating so that within two to three years, all group members’ farms are visited. A classroom. Throughout the growing season the discussion group takes its workshops “to thetypical pasture walk features a planned discussion topic, but also allows for impromptu discussion pasture” – each month congregating at a different group member’s farm. Discussion at eachon other timely issues as well as unique management aspects of the host farm. Educational efforts workshop centers on a topic of the month which may be an issue of seasonal timeliness or one thatfocus in the areas of forage systems and management, animal care and management, is particularly well demonstrated on that month’s host farm. Occasionally the purpose of a sessionfacility/infrastructure development and management, and financial/records management. This will be to assist a new pasture-based producer by providing ideas and suggestions for theeducational format has proven to be highly valued by participating producers. Organized in 2001, development of his or her farm. The group utilizes a learner to learner and co-learner model. Equalthis discussion group is now in its eleventh year of providing educational opportunities to pasture- value is placed on input from producers, allied industry personnel and extension workers. All arebased dairy producers. encouraged to participate, ask questions and critique ideas and practices. Discussion and educational efforts center primarily around four components of a pasture-based dairy production Background system. They are Cows (animal care and management), Forages (forage systems and management), Facilities (parlor, paddocks, lanes, etc.) and Dairy Career Path (financial/recordsDuring the past two decades Missouri has witnessed a decrease in the number of dairy farms and management).in the state’s annual milk production. This trend can be attributed largely to increased costs ofproduction inputs and narrower margins of profitability. These realities have left producerssearching for alternative milk production systems that offer more opportunity for profit. As early asthe mid 1990’s producers began to explore and adopt pasture-based milk production as an answerto the industry’s economic challenges. This newfound interest in pasture-based dairying led tothe need for educational efforts for these emerging enterprises. University of Missouri Extension,with the cooperation of early adopters of pasture-based dairy production, responded by formingpasture-based dairy discussion groups in several locations around the state. These discussiongroups would hopefully provide the organizational framework for educating pasture-based dairyproducers as well as enhance the influence of this system of milk production in the state ofMissouri. Cows Facilities Objectives•Provide educational opportunities for pasture-based dairy producers in the areas of forage systems,cow management, facility development/management and financial management Focus group education centers on•Conduct teaching events in a format that facilitates both formal and hands-on learning opportunities four components of the pasture-•Utilize knowledge and experience of established producers to assist in teaching those new to based dairy system.pasture-based dairy production•Enhance the profitability and viability of Missouri’s Dairy Industry Forages Dairy Career Path Results •Approximately 120 pasture-based dairy producers participate in four separate discussion groups located across the state of Missouri. •Survey results from one discussion group showed the following changes among producers for each of the four pasture-based system components: Increased Knowledge Applied This on My Farm Cows 92% 92% Forages 100% 100% Facilities 100% 92% Dairy Career Path 62% 31% •85% of producers said that their participation in the discussion group had improved the profitability The discussion group holds monthly “pasture walks” throughout the grazing season. of their dairy operation.