The Forage Ecology and Management program is intended to equip producers with scientific information on the potentials of different pasture species available at different times of the year, and their appropriate management requirements to improve forage yield and quality for different farm animals. Having correctly decided on the animals to raise, sound breeding and disease control programs, and invested in good farm structures, etc, profitable animal production still remains a strategic biological conversion of cheap feed resources into marketable animal products. Any successful livestock producer knows that, animals can only be as good as what they eat. Therefore, one can proudly say “All flesh is grass”.
At VSU, on-going studies are focused on year-round forage availability for sustainable forage-based small ruminant production. We are promoting native warm-season grasses (NWSGs) as dependable summer forage resources through enhanced establishment strategies and appropriate defoliation management with respect to plant vigor, biomass production, forage quality, and persistency. We are also assessing the effectiveness of evasive grazing strategies on mixed pastures involving bioactive forages for controlling gastro-intestinal parasites that affect pasture-raised small ruminants. By incorporating NWSGs and other nonconventional feed resources into existing forage systems, small ruminant producers in Virginia and neighboring states may achieve sustainable and profitable forage-based animal production. Other studies on dual-purpose small grains, such as Teff (Eragrostis tef), are also meant to help small producers take advantage of the growing market demand for ethnic foods as well as their unique health benefits.
Contact: Vitalis W. Temu