Many farmers are shifting to cattle or goat production to offset lost income as tobacco acreage continues to decline. Livestock production is a good choice because Kentucky has more than seven million acres of forage production.
Forages haven't been intensively managed for top production because we historically have a surplus, especially in the spring. As the number of livestock operations continues to grow, many producers want to increase pasture and hay land production so they can increase their stocking rate.
Livestock producers can take some simple steps that can dramatically increase, maybe even double their total forage production.
Determine if you're effectively using the forages you now produce. If not, try to more efficiently use current production by increasing stocking rates, rotational grazing, or more timely hay harvesting.
If you're effectively using your forages, concentrate on maximizing per-acre production. Soil fertility is the foundation of high forage production; without adequate nutrients, intensive management practices will fail.