Cattle grazing

AMES, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa invites farmers who currently graze livestock of any kind, or hope to in the future, to participate in new farmer- led grazing groups the organization is forming across the state.

For many farmers, networking with their peers is the preferred way to learn about different production strategies or possible solutions to farming challenges. While many resources exist in Iowa to help connect farmers to one another, not as many are targeted specifically at farmers who graze livestock, Meghan Filbert, livestock program manager for PFI, says in a news release from the group.

The new grazing groups aim to address this need for more peer-to-peer grazing support. Participating is free, and farmers do not need to be Practical Farmers members.

“Our members have shared feedback asking us to initiate these grazing groups so they can learn from each other on a regional basis,” Filbert says. “These groups will provide networking opportunities for graziers who want to connect with other like-minded farmers and may not realize there are others in their area doing what they’re doing.”

The first gatherings will take place in May and June, each hosted by a farmer, and will run from 4:30-7 p.m. The group will take a pasture walk together and discuss spring grazing management on lush pastures, first-cut hay, planting summer annuals and more.

Part of the agenda will also include identifying a farmer leader for the group who will take over coordination of future gatherings. To sign up, visit the grazing groups page on PFI’s website and click the RSVP button for the specific event of interest.

One group, the South Central Iowa Grazing Group, existed before PFI started working to create grazing groups statewide and already has an established group leader and structure. The graziers agreed to open their group to others so more knowledge can be shared.

“Sometimes you begin wondering if what you’re doing is worthwhile or paying off,” says Andy Welch, the leader of the south-central group who operates Welch Family Farms near Grant City, Missouri. “But being around people doing similar things really keeps me motivated — and I hope will help keep others inspired as well.”

After the first gathering, the hope is that each grazing group will become a self-sustaining entity, with group members deciding how often to meet, which topics to cover and other logistical details.

For questions about the grazing groups, contact Meghan Filbert, 515-232-5661 or meghan@practicalfarmers.org.