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Fall pasture walk will be Sept. 7
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BLANCHARDVILLE - The Green County Land and Water Conservation Department along with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, will present the 2016 Fall Pasture Walk "Grazing the Summer Lull" at 11 a.m. Sept. 7 at Holmstrom's Grassy Acres, N9276 Hay Hollow Road, Blanchardville.

Registration and networking will be at 11 a.m. with the walk and discussion starting at 11:15 a.m. At noon, Brian Pillsbury, NRCS State Grazing Land Specialist, will give a presentation on "warm weather forage feeding," covering the advantages and disadvantages of grazing annual grasses. The walk will include a discussion of Sudan grass and other grasses for warm weather forage.

Jamie Holmstrom, his wife, Deanne, and daughter, Samantha, milk 40 cows at the Holmstrom farm. The cows are fed on a strictly grasses diet with no grains. The cows' main forage in the summer is Sudan grass. Holmstrom feels he gets twice as much forage from the Sudan grass than from traditional pasture/hay grasses.

Holmstrom grew up on the 200-acre farm. After graduating from high school in 1990, he began working for his father on the farm. In 2001, he bought the cows and continued the intensive farming. According to the news release, he never liked using chemicals, so in 2006 he started intensive rotational grazing. He seeded down the entire farm in 2012. By 2013, he was certified organic. Needing more feed, he decided to try Sudan grass in 2015.

Grasses do not grow as fast during the hot summer months because the majority of Wisconsin pastures are made up of cool season grasses that put on most of their growth in spring and early summer, with a small growth spurt during the cool fall weather, according to the release. Legumes, such as clover and alfalfa, however, have a more even growth pattern through the grazing season.

Since cool season grasses make up from 50 to 80 percent of pasture forages, the reduced growth in the summer can shut down pasture production unless livestock have additional land on which to graze. One way to minimize the amount of additional land is to grow high-producing annual forages during the summer months. These forages grow fast in hot weather and can provide a lot of extra feed to get the livestock through the season. Some examples of "warm season annual forages" are sorghum-Sudan, corn and millet. They all make good feed, but grazing varieties of corn are the most productive.