by Kent Fellenbaum
KGA is a grassroots organization administered by farmers and ranchers and is dedicated to the continuing improvement of the profitability and quality of life of livestock producers. It started in January 2000 in an effort to link the grazing clusters of the Heartland Network together, by coordinating and promoting educational activities about year-round grazing using advanced techniques and forages. Seeking to link the grazing clusters of the Heartland Network together, the association holds a one-day winter grazing conference and summer grazing tours.
As most other states have their own grazing conferences, David Morrison and Duane Schierling, co-founders of the KGA, both saw the need for a statewide grazing conference in Kansas, particularly one that would promote sustainable methods and bring in those not necessarily associated with sustainable farming. David acknowledges that "mainstream [agriculture] is coming on board slowly but surely" as far as implementing newer types of grazing techniques.
KGA hosted its third annual winter grazing conference in January 2002, featuring several speakers and panels presenting various topics related to grazing techniques and practices, in addition to keynote speaker Dr. Dick Diven, of Agri-Concepts, Inc., of Tucson, Ariz. The morning session also featured talks by Tom Maxwell and Carl Garten, both Saline County Extension Agents, and Bruce Spare, a member of the Smoky Hills grazing cluster.
Dr. Diven’s morning presentation focused developing a low-cost cow/calf program for profitable beef cattle ranching, highlighting three keys elements: changing the body condition score of the animal, the time of calving, and implementing specific supplementation for precise nutrition. Diven also focused on addressing various factors of revenue and production, such as direct costs, overhead, and breakeven points. Much of the information presented advocated the idea of "listening to the land" – using a more natural approach that corresponds with seasonal cycles – in order to enhance growth and gestation patterns that reduce overhead cost and maximize profits.
The afternoon session featured a panel on multi-species grazing, including ranchers Wally Olson, of Vinita, Okla.; Carroll Bennett, of Buffalo, Ks.; Alan Hubbard, of Olsburg, Ks.; and Dr. Walter Fick, a forage specialist from the Agronomy Department of Kansas State University. The panel discussed different ideas on forage intake and rationale for diversified plant and livestock production. Dr. Diven then followed with a second presentation on stocker management.
KGA would like to expand their reach of influence to the "four corners of Kansas," and increase their number of summer grazing tours and pasture walks. KGA also seeks to help farmers and ranchers improve their management skills to the fullest potential and keep families farming. "We have the technology, but we have to maximize the resources," says Duane.
The Kansas Graziers Association Board of Directors met recently to put together the program for the upcoming year of 2003-04 and announce the dates for the planned activities. The board evaluated the Winter Grazing Conference. Evaluations turned in at the conference documented that the members feel that the Winter Conference and the summer tours are very beneficial to their operations. KGA members feel that the information presented and ideas shared from other producers is very valuable and applicable to their own personal situations. Graziers love to get together with other graziers to do brainstorming and networking.
Harold and Patsy Garner of Eureka, are the Co-Chairs for the KGA Board, Mary Howell of Frankfort is the Secretary, and Jim French of Partridge is in charge of publicity.
The cost for membership in KGA is $20.00 per year per farm, ranch, or individual not active in production agriculture. Commercial membership cost is $50.00 per year per company.
The Kansas Graziers Association welcomes interested persons as members. If you would like more information please contact Mary Howell, Secretary. Mary Howell KGA, 1532 Yonder Road, Frankfort, Kansas 66427. Call 785-363-7306 or e-mail Mary at Marshallcofair@networksplus.net. The group also welcomes any suggestions and ideas that you might have, please forward them to Mary.
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