Cattle graze on Longino Ranch property in Sarasota County.

Notes and news about the forage management tour

By Angela Bright
UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County staff

I recently had the opportunity to take part in the South Florida Forage Management Tour and Workshop, a day-long tour of local farms to showcase their operations and to learn from experts the latest on soil health, grasses, grazing and more.

Attendees at the 2018 South Florida Forage Management Tour and Workshop study operations during a hayride tour.

Attendees at the 2018 South Florida Forage Management Tour and Workshop study operations during a hayride tour. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County]

Held in late August, the tour started at Longino Ranch in Sidell, where we received our registration materials, directions to the remaining stops, and were treated to a hayride. Our guide and speaker was Longino Ranch Manager, Cliff Coddington.

Mr. Coddington discussed the variety of grasses planted at the ranch, including star, jiggs, bermuda, limpo, bahia and torpedo grasses.  He explained how the grasses have varying amounts of proteins, and may have different grazing seasons.

Our second stop was Dakin Dairy in Myakka City. Dakin Dairy Owner, Jerry Dakin, explained the variety of grasses and legumes planted at his farm, and discussed the variety of feed they provide the dairy cattle, including star grass, corn silage, green chop (grasses/legumes), and grazing. We drove around the farm for a closer look at the dairy operation, as well as the grass and legume fields.

For more information about Dakin Dairy, visit their web site: www.dakindairyfarms.com. If you would like to visit the farm, they offer tours and some wonderful food.

For our third and final stop of the day, we visited Blackbeard’s Ranch in Myakka City, where we heard from the managing partner, Jim Strickland.

A refreshment break at Blackbeard's Ranch, part of the 2018 South Florida Forage Management Tour and Workshop.

A refreshment break at Blackbeard’s Ranch, part of the 2018 South Florida Forage Management Tour and Workshop. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County]

Mr. Strickland said that conservation is a cornerstone of Blackbeard’s Ranch operations. The ranch staff works closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the University of Florida, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The ranch’s main focus, he said, is running a cow-calf operation. However, he noted, Blackbeard’s Ranch also is diversifying into additional agricultural endeavors to demonstrate and educate ways that sustainable agriculture and conservation come together. For more information visit http://www.blackbeardsranch.com/.

Watch for my next blog post, where I’ll continue with information from the many speakers who attended.

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