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Livestock specialist helps producers get most from pastures

Livestock specialist helps producers get most from pastures

University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Jim Humphrey

University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Jim Humphrey says he enjoys working with producers. His job includes several annual events such as field days. 

Jim Humphrey’s favorite part of being a livestock specialist is working with producers and helping them be successful.

A University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist based in Andrew County, Humphrey says each day at work can look very different.

“For me, it probably depends a little bit on the time of year,” he says.

Humphrey raises cattle himself, and he knows many producers in his northwest Missouri region have diversified farms, with row crops and livestock. During busy planting and harvest seasons, he tends to focus more on planning and office work.

“When planting season and harvest season is going on, I’m probably working on things three months, six months out, and probably more time in the office, working on reports and that kind of things,” he says.

Some things are consistent items on the calendar — things to prepare and plan for each year — like grazing school events for producers and FFA field days at MU’s Hundley-Whaley and Graves-Chapple research centers.

But other times, major events like droughts pop up and require special events to talk with producers and try and get through the challenge.

“In 2018, 2012, July, August and September was just crazy dealing with drought issues,” Humphrey says. “Things like that definitely impact what I do seasonally.”

He also talks with area school children about farm safety and brings in animals for the kids to learn about.

Education is a goal, whether it is youth or experienced livestock producers interested in trying something new.

Humphrey says he listens to what they are talking about and wanting more information on, paying attention to the trends in the livestock industry and region. This summer, he and other MU Extension personnel organized their first feedlot school to help producers learn more about their options when it comes to feeding out more cattle in the area. Humphrey says it took a lot of hours to get that event ready to go, but it was good to get input from producers about what they were looking for in it.

Humphrey also works on applied research at Hundley-Whaley, including study of warm season native grasses in recent years and how they can help pastures get through the hot summer months. He looks at different mixtures to see what works.

“We plant native warm season grasses with native warm season legumes,” he says.

This research also involves testing the quality of the forage to get nutritional data. Beyond the research farm, Humphrey also has native warm season plots out in the counties he covers.

Helping producers craft the best feed rations is another important area of work, he says.

“I get a lot of hay samples, silage samples,” Humphrey says. “People wanting to feed distillers grains, we work on rations for those producers based on their forages, their silage, whatever that may be.”

He also keeps in contact with the county commissioners, Extension councils, fair boards and cattlemen’s associations, to stay informed of what issues they have going on and what they need.

Humphrey’s favorite part of his job is getting out on the farms to meet with producers, talk about what they have going on, and build those relationships and the livestock industry.

“What I like doing most is working with producers,” he says.

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Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.

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