Eddie Yokley To Host Foraging Workshop
The Four Seasons Grazing Club will meet for a Grazing for Profit Pasture Walk titled “Profitable Ground … what does it look like?” at Eddie Yokley’s farm on April 13 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. The farm is located at 1046 Old Kentucky Rd., South, Greeneville, TN. The event is free and a free hamburger dinner will follow the pasture walk.
Yokely is using an innovative rotational grazing and forage management method. Practices include rolling out hay in the fall, using a sacrifice field for winter grazing and moving to grass in February or March, using temporary fencing, and grazing areas on the margins of streams or rivers on dry winter days.
Mike McElroy of the Greene County Soil Conservation District said the method is nontraditional but effective.
“It boils down to grazing management and the landowner being in control,” McElroy said. “A lot of the complaints that we get during winter time are, ‘There's nothing but mud around the hay rings,’ or ‘I lost a calf because of the mud.’ To get away from that, you've got to change your management. You've got to do something different to get around it.”
The pasture walk will include seeing a stream crossing with a water access point, freeze proof waterers, additional quick connects, even manure distribution in the sacrifice field and learning about how farms can qualify for cost sharing opportunities.
One of the keys to successfully implementing this method is unrolling hay on the ground when the weather is dry.
“You put out what they can eat in three to four hours, the next day you unroll the hay again,” said McElroy. “But you pick those days and you do it on dry days. If it's nasty, wet, cold, rainy, snowy, and all that, walk out there and open up the gate handle and turn them into a pasture field that has been sitting there and growing all winter long. We call that stockpiled forages.”
McElroy said the event will bring together people to find new solutions to old problems.
“We'll get ideas from Eddie on things that he's tried that did not work, and things that he tried that did work,” McElroy said. He adds, “In the winter of 2015, Eddie fed 148 rolls of hay. In the winter of 2016, he fed 26. Same number of animals, same number of acres of land, everything was the same except for how it was managed.”
McElroy says proper forage management also improves soil health, reduces water run-off, eliminates the need to spray costly herbicides or bush hog, and increases the amount of protein available to livestock from what are commonly considered weeds.
One thing I’ve told Eddie and everybody else, these land owners are going to have to decide,” McElroy said. “Do you want a pasture field or do you want a golf course?”
To register for this free event, go to ruralresources.net and click on the Four Seasons Grazing Club under the Programs tab, or call Rural Resources at 423-636-8171 or the Greene County Soil Conservation District at 423-638-4771 extension 3.
The Four Seasons Grazing Club is an educational and networking organization dedicated to encouraging better forage production through grazing management. This Grazing for Profit Pasture Walk is sponsored by Rural Resources, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.