29th Annual Southwest Missouri Spring Forage Conference and

12th Annual Heart of America Grazing Conference combine for successful event

The University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center was the site for the 29th Annual Southwest Missouri Spring Forage Conference which was combined with the 12th Annual Heart of America Grazing Conference for a two day forage and grazing extravaganza.  The event got underway at 1:00 pm on Monday, February 25 with a 4 hour workshop on Low Stress Livestock Handling presented by Richard McConnell and Tina Williams of Hand ‘n Hand Livestock Solutions. One Hundred and forty-five people were shown the basic principles of good stockmanship: proper pressure, proper communication, and proper emotion and attitude.  After the workshop, attendees had the opportunity to visit with 44 vendors and network with other attendees and speakers.  The evening concluded with a dinner followed by two presentations.  Mark Green served as the evening’s emcee, welcoming everyone and introduced the Spring Forage Conference Planning Committee and the Heart of America Executive Committee. He then introduced the first presentation by Dr. Garry Lacefield, University of Kentucky State Forage Specialist, titled “Forages: Change-Challenges-Opportunities.”  The presentation started off with the changes that have taken place over Dr. Lacefield’s 35 year career: increasing world population, record high energy prices, improvements in telecommunications, changes’ in the public’s eating habits and the decline in the number of farms and farmers.  This was followed by the challenges that some of these changes has presented to the agriculture community.  He concluded with opportunities for grazers in the future.  He stated that the most important role for forages and grazing is the future.  “We will not have the luxury of substituting cheap energy for low quality forages.  The good news is we won’t have to.  Grazers today are recognizing the value of forage quality, factors affecting quality and management required to achieve acceptable quality to meet desired animal performance,” Dr. Lacefield concluded.  Dr. Jerry Crownover rounded out the night with his humorous accounts of farm life in the Ozarks.


Despite the inclement weather on Tuesday, 351 people braved the slick roads and snowy weather to learn more on forage and grazing management.  The day was filled with educational and networking opportunities for all in attendance.  Two concurrent sessions were held in the morning and in the afternoon, with four different topics in each to choose from.  At noon, a delicious luncheon with keynote speaker, Kathy Voth, Livestock for Landscapes, discussed “What Do Cows Eat?”  Attendees learned that diet selection is a learned behavior.  She detailed her process of training cows to eat weeds or any unfamiliar food in just 5 days by following her 3 step process: 1) Know your plants; 2) Choose your trainees; 3) Make the unfamiliar seem familiar.  She followed up her keynote address with a question and answer session during a breakout session.   Lynzee Glass, managing editor of Ozarks Farm & Neighbor magazine, served as emcee for the luncheon thanking all of the sponsors, vendors, committee members and attendees for making this year’s conference a success.  Alan Garton, planning committee Chair, presented Dr. Ben Fuqua with a Certificate of Appreciation for his many years of service to the Southwest Missouri Spring Forage Conference Planning Committee.

Topics for the concurrent sessions included: “Management of Fescue Toxicity” by Dr. Craig Roberts; “Grazing System Layout and Design” by Mark Green; “Alfalfa Management for Quality Forage” by Dr. Garry Lacefield; “Forages and Wildlife” by Mark Hutchings; “Novel Endophyte Fescues for Missouri” by Dr. Craig Roberts; “Selecting Livestock to Fit Your Environment” by David Hall; “Evaluating the Income Potential and Demands of Different Livestock Enterprises for Your Farm” by Wesley Tucker; “Taxes and Farm Records” by Larry King; “Establishing and Maintaining Native Grasses” by Tim Schnakenberg;  “Direct Sales of Grass-fed Beef” by a producer panel consisting of Chris Boeckmann and Drs. Meera & Allen Scarrow; “Interseeding Annuals into Perennial Pasture” by Dr. Rob Kallenbach; and “Pasture Renovation with Livestock” by Mark Kennedy.

This year’s combined conference was sponsored by; Gold Sponsors: PowerFlex Fence; Illinois Forage and Grassland Council; Missouri Forage and Grassland Council/Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative; Southwest Missouri Soil & Water Conservation districts; Silver Sponsors: FCS Financial; MQT Lab Services; Bronze, Break and Exhibitor Sponsors: Multimin USA; Missouri Agriculture and Small Business Development Authority; Southwest Missouri RC&D Council; Stay-Tuff Fence; Truax Company; Monty’s Plant Food Company; Joplin Regional Stockyards;  Pennington Seed, and MFA; AmeriAg; Ash Grove Aggregates; Gallagher North America; Hostetler Manufacturing Company; Hostetler Feed and Farm Supply; Kencove Farm Fence Supplies; Missouri Department of Conservation; Pfizer Animal Health; Midcontinent Livestock Supplement; Heartland Highland Cattle Assoc.; The Concrete Works; Hamilton Native Outpost; Allied Seed; MU Extension; James River BP; Macs Vet Supply; Flying H; Elanco; SO MO Ag Supply; Evergreen Seed; Elite Equine Animal Health; MO State; Springfield Livestock Market; Ozark Hills Genetics; S & H Farm Supply; Legacy Farm & Lawn; Race Brothers Farm supply; Dow Chemical and Healthy Acres/Greener Pasture.    The conference committee is grateful for their support.

The Southwest Missouri Spring Forage Conference is held annually in Springfield around the last Tuesday of February.  Next year’s conference, which marks the 30th Annual, will be held February 25, 2014, in the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center. The Heart of America Grazing Conference is a regional conference that rotates annually through the states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri.  The 13th Annual Heart of America Grazing Conference will be held January 20 – 21, 2014, at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Columbus, Indiana.

More information about this year’s conference and future events can be found on the conference website: http://springforageconference.com/ . The published proceedings from this year’s conference as well as past conferences can be downloaded from this site.  Many thanks go to conference sponsors, vendors, speakers, the planning committees and all attendees for making this year’s conference a huge success.

Submitted by:

Mark Kennedy


Houston, MO



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