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Livestock

Through our Livestock Program, we work with farmers to conduct on-farm research, hold pasture walks and field days, and host educational events based on priorities identified by our livestock farmer members.

Practical Farmers’ Livestock Program represents a diverse suite of livestock farmers, encompassing beef cattle, niche swine, poultry, sheep, goat and dairy operations. Many of these farmers are raising livestock on pasture and practicing regenerative farming practices such as rotational grazing, livestock and crop integration and grass finishing.

Through the Livestock Program, we seek to help members become more profitable and sustainable in their operations by organizing events and conducting research based on member input and priorities. Grazing cover crops, diverse perennial and annual forages, feeding small grains to swine and soil health through livestock integration have been identified as priorities in recent years.

We believe livestock keep farms and communities in balance. PFI’s founder, Dick Thompson, is remembered for saying “When the cow leaves the farm, the oats and hay crops leave also and the decline of rural communities has begun.”

Workshops, webinars, and conferences

The Annual Conference in January is the yearly pinnacle of PFI events. Both PFI members and invited speakers share their knowledge and expertise over nearly three days of workshops and lectures. Past invited speakers include Gabe Brown, Neil Dennis, Todd Churchill, Greg Judy, Jim Elizando, Abe Collins and Jim VanDerPol.

Workshops are offered just prior to the Annual Conference and occasionally throughout the year. Past workshops include basic background information on soils, Holistic Management, composting, permaculture, financial record keeping, and tractor/equipment use.

Other resources

Equipment

PFI owns four livestock scales that may be borrowed by members for use on-farm. We also have several soil sampling probes, a penetrometer, and a refractometer for Brix measurement. Contact Meghan for more information.

Factsheets

Several factsheets have been prepared to assist livestock farmers in managing their operations. Click on the links to download the sheets.

Livestock enterprise budgeting

Factsheet 1

Factsheet 2

Lease considerations for grazing cover crops

Grazing cover crops 1

Contract grazing cover crops

Herbicide Use and Cover Crops

Practical Farmers of Iowa  invited renowned rangeland scientist and animal behaviorist Fred Provenza to teach a three-day workshop exploring how behavioral processes link the health of soil, plants, herbivores and humans, Nov. 15-17, in Winterset. Fred has provided his notes and slideshow from the workshop.

Contact Information

For more information about our livestock programs and resources, contact:

Meghan Filbert, Livestock Coordinator at meghan@practicalfarmers.org.