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Nebraska Grazing Conference offers tips for more efficient grazing

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Kearney, Neb. – The Nebraska Grazing Conference will be held Aug. 8-9 at the Kearney Ramada in Kearney, Neb. This year’s event will focus on fencing, water points, more efficient grazing and feeding wildlife. There will also be a segment on finance and economics.

“This year, we have a diverse program with two highly sought-after speakers, Jim Gerrish and Peter Ballerstedt,” said Daren Redfearn, who is with the University of Nebraska and helped organize this year’s conference.

Ruminant nutrition

Ballerstedt will be speaking about grass-based health and the ruminant revolution, as well as selecting cool-season grasses for irrigated and dryland conditions.

Ballerstedt is the forage product manager of Barenbrug USA in Corvallis, Ore. His background is in forage management and utilization, as well as ruminant nutrition.

“Extensive experience led Peter to study human diet and health,” according to his biography. “What he has learned does not agree with the low-fat-is-heart-healthy dietary advice we’ve been given for more than 50 years. This understanding, combined with his forage background, has strengthened his interest in the truly sustainable forms of agriculture – the production of ruminant animal products.”


Gerrish will cover the placement of fencing and water points in his presentations, and he will conduct a workshop after the banquet on the evening of Aug. 8 about fencing and water development.

Gerrish and his wife Dawn own and operate a successful consulting firm in May, Idaho to help farmers and ranchers on both private and public lands more effectively manage their grazing for economic and environmental sustainability, according to their website.

In addition to private consulting, they also travel to workshops and seminars across the U.S. and Canada sharing their techniques for more efficient grazing.


“The Aug. 8 session will be a workshop format on Optimizing Input Costs highlighted by presentations from two prominent Nebraska producers, John Maddux and Jim Jenkins,” Redfearn explains. 

Maddux, a producer from Wauneta, Neb., will discuss annual forages versus row crops under irrigation, while Jenkins, who is a producer from Callaway, Neb. will discuss the economics of grazing strategies.

Other speakers will cover a variety of topics during the two-day event from the beef systems initiative and managing grassland for livestock and wildlife to plant cover, managing risks and Natural Resources Conservation Service cost-share programs.

There will also be a presentation from the 2016 Leopold Conservation Award winner, Nancy Peterson of Plum Thicket Farms in Gordon, Neb. She will talk about conservation and management changes they have made on their farm to make it more efficient for grazing.


There is still time to register for this year’s event. Registration for the entire conference is $80, if completed before Aug. 1. After Aug. 1, it is $100. Full registration includes the full conference, two meals and the banquet.

Students are also encouraged to attend. Student registration is $50 before Aug. 1, and $60 after that. Registration can be completed online at Click on upcoming conference. 

For more information about the grazing conference, the Center for Grassland Studies can be reached at 402-472-4101.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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