April 1997 // Volume 35 // Number 2 // Ideas at Work // 2IAW3

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Ohio Pasture for Profit Schools: Designing a Successful Format for Grazing Courses

Improved grazing systems offer a profitable sustainable alternative for livestock producers in Ohio. In 1994, Extension agents and state specialists formed an Integrated Forage Management Team and designed regional "Pasture for Profit Schools" for Ohio. Ten teaching outlines were developed that included text and scripts to present in a series of two to three classes. Notebooks and fact sheets were developed, and an on-farm case study would be provided. Twenty-five schools from 1994-96 have been attended by over 700 participants providing an instructor to student ratio of 1:15. Several states have requested the program for implementation.

Mark L. Bennett
Assistant Professor and
Eastern Ohio Grazing Coordinator
Ohio State University Extension
Knox County
Mt. Vernon, Ohio
Internet Address: bennett.3@osu.edu

Christopher D. Penrose
Instructor and Extension Agent
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Ohio State University Extension
Athens County
Athens, Ohio

Henry M. Bartholomew
Associate Professor and
Southern Ohio Grazing Coordinator
Ohio State University Extension
Hocking County
Logan, Ohio


Improved grazing systems offer a profitable sustainable alternative for livestock producers. Studies from Pennsylvania (Hanson, 1995) and Missouri (Moore, 1995) demonstrate the profit potential for Managed Intensive Grazing (MIG). Managed Intensive Grazing is a term designed to emphasize management, not just grazing (Gerrish, 1995). Since 1986, several single events, programs, and workshops relating to MIG have been conducted in Ohio.

An Ohio Integrated Forage Management (IFM) team of state specialists and Extension agents was formed in 1994 to focus educational programs on improving profitability of Ohio farmers while enhancing the environment through efficient utilization of forages. One of the IFM team's goals was to develop an expanded curriculum and offer "Pasture for Profit" schools on a regional basis.


Ten teaching outlines for the schools were developed by IFM team members. Each teaching outline included a script and either 35mm slides or overhead transparencies developed by the IFM team for use by other instructors throughout the state. In addition, each outline had a corresponding set of educational material incorporated into a notebook to be provided to each participant. Finally, each teaching outline included a fact sheet to be used statewide.

The course covered two-to-three sessions for a total of 5-to -8 hours of classroom instruction. Course curriculum on technical information included soils, plant physiology, animal nutrition, economics, paddock layout, and water system design. Human resource management topics were also addressed, including evaluating resources (Where Are You?) and goal setting (Where Do you Want to Be?).

The final part of the course was a "hands on" outdoor activity on a "case farm," giving participants practical experience from instructors and experienced "graziers." The "graziers" were volunteers who were early adopters and/or previous participants in pasture management programs.

During the outside activity, participants were divided into teams. Each team had the resources from the classroom instruction and were also given aerial maps, markers, and a flip chart. They were then challenged to survey and evaluate the farm, and within a time limit prepare a team design for the case farm to present to the class.

The final part of the program was the presentation of the grazing systems designed by the teams. Participants not only worked together to make decisions on the design, but also on the presentation. Grazing systems included forage species to be used, paddock layout, and fence and water system materials. All participants were involved in discussions analyzing the strong and weak points of each design.

In an effort to provide information and support for the participants after the course, each was provided a subscription to a bi-monthly grazing newsletter and encouraged to attend meeting of local grazing councils.


Twenty-five "Pasture for Profit" schools involving over 700 producers were conducted from 1994 through 1996. These regional schools offered an enhanced instructor to student ratio of 1:15 compared to 1:50 at previous statewide conferences.

Using a pre-test-post-test instrument, participants were asked to list the top three reasons for considering MIG prior to the school and after the school. The reasons for considering MIG prior to the School (N=134) were to increase herd size (58%), extend the grazing season (71%), increase productivity (84%), and better utilize resources (68%). After the school, the top three reasons listed were higher profit(82%), better land and soil management (71%), and improved herd health (67%).

When the grazing school graduates were asked what they thought about MIG after the school, 94% planned on implementing MIG and the respondents thought it was possible to significantly increase net return to the operation.


The Ohio Regional Grazing Schools provide an introduction to the art and science of MIG. With this background, participants have a basic understanding of plant and animal science along with grazing management. With the experience of the course, a resource notebook, the ability to network with other graziers from the school and with local grazing councils, support is available to improve the chances of a successful operation.

The success of this program has been so well received by participants that other agencies and states have requested this program. Training has been provided to Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel in Ohio, and training by Ohio's IFM team and teaching material has been provided to Extension and NRCS personnel in other states in the North Central region.


Gerrish, J. R. (1995). Introduction to Management Intensive Grazing. J.R. Gerrish (Ed.) Missouri Grazing Manual.

Hanson, G. D. (1995). Adoption of Intensive Grazing Systems. Journal Of Extension, 33, (4).

Moore, Kevin C. (1995). The Economics of Management Intensive Grazing. J.R. Gerrish (Ed.) Missouri Grazing Manual.