Graze 300 VA

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Graze 300 VA Mission Statement: To enable Virginia farmers to achieve 300 days of livestock grazing by facilitating better pasture management and environmental stewardship.

More than 50% of cow/calf production costs are found in winter feeding expenses documented in Virginia Extension budgets.  In some examples this cost can be as high as 75% of total annual cost on the least efficient operations.  Our goal is to improve both farm profitability and water quality by converting cow/calf producers to winter feeding management reliant upon grazing instead of a 4-month long dependency on more costly hay feeding.  Graze 300 VA is an educational initiative designed to address this issue.   Presently a small handful of producers in Virginia’s Piedmont and Shenandoah Valley regions regularly approach or achieve a 300-day grazing season.  The goal is to increase the number of cow/calf producers that graze 300 days per year or more. 

There are over 96,000 beef cows in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont of Virginia. If 20% of the farmers (19,000 cows) improve economics by $100 per head per year, the benefit would be $1.9 million.  When extended to 20% of the entire Virginia beef cow herd, this can generate an addition to participant’s bottom line of $13 million from the cost savings.  Extending the grazing season will benefit water quality through improved water infiltration, improved nutrient use efficiency, fewer barren areas in fields (winter feeding sites) and improved soil organic matter. The Chesapeake Bay TMDL gives nutrient and sediment credit for every acre of pasture converted into a grazing management system and every foot of stream where livestock are excluded