Kevin Moyers and his family hosted the first summer pasture walk of 2020 for the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council. This event was co-sponsored by the Alliance for Grassland Renewal and the Mountains to the Bay (M2B) Grazing Alliance. As the afternoon rain cleared, we began the pasture walk with a total of 32 participants anxious to learn more about novel endophyte fescue and to witness the successful conversion by the Moyers family.
Kevin explained to the group how his cattle on this fescue-based pasture were noticeably suffering from fescue toxicosis. They were very slow to shed their winter hair coat, spent most of their time in the shade instead of grazing and the weaning weights were significantly lower compared to calves on his other farm. Shawna Bratton, VFGC Board member from this region, led the discussion with Kevin on the up-front planning and field preparation to effectively kill the toxic fescue, before ever planting the first novel endophyte seed. Kevin went over seeding rates, novel endophyte varieties used in the 2 fields (listed on back of program brochure), fertility and weed control used to support this planting.
We walked through the field and looked at novel endophyte fescue stand density after grazing. In some spots you could see the drill rows, in other spots it was too thick to see the drill rows. The weaned calves loved it and it was the most evenly grazed fescue field on Kevin’s farm.
Alston Horn with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation conducted an electric fence component demonstration and talked to producers about how to utilize these temporary fencing products to effectively implement grazing management on novel endophyte pastures. This led into management of the stand once converted to novel endophyte.
Kevin showed the group the next field that was in rotation to be planted to novel endophyte fescue this coming fall. It had been burned down in the late spring and planted to pearl millet on June 10th. The brown midrib pearl millet was growing rapidly and providing more than enough quality forage for the 30 weaned calves strip grazing across that field. Obviously, he is using the spray-smother-spray scenario before planting the novel endophyte fescue this fall.
The pasture walk finished with a summary emphasizing the steps in the conversion protocol, promoting the Alliance for Grassland Renewal proposed March 2021 workshops and acknowledging the M2B Grazing Alliance, answering final questions and encouraging more participation in future VFGC events.
~ J.B. Daniel, USDA-NRCS Forage And Grassland Agronomist, Virginia
The Alliance for Grassland Renewal is a national organization focused on enhancing the appropriate adoption of novel endophyte tall fescue technology through education, incentives, self-regulation and promotion. For more resources or to learn more about the Alliance for Grassland Renewal, go to www.grasslandrenewal.org