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Local Ranchers Benefit from NMC Grazing Workshops (December 7, 2009)

Ranchers on the islands of Tinian and Rota recently completed three-day long workshops that featured training on effective pasture and livestock management practices. The workshops were part of the Marianas Grazing Academy, a project organized through a collaborative effort between the Northern Marianas College and experienced pasture, livestock, and soil specialists from the University of Hawaii, University of the Virgin Islands, and the University of Guam.

Thirty individuals attended the workshop on Tinian, and twelve attended the workshop on Rota. Each workshop consisted of presentations and discussions the first two days, with a hands-on field day on the last.

The workshops’ presentations covered various agricultural topics that included the growth and production of forages, principles of grazing management, integrated weed management, fecal analysis for parasites, beef quality and marketing, and mobile slaughter facilities and opportunities.

“We appreciate the efforts of the Grazing Academy Team as this should serve to benefit all of our Ranchers here on Rota,” said Rota rancher David Calvo. “The workshop was very informative about weed suppression, pasture improvement, pasture management, and animal grazing habits.”

The workshops’ field days featured a pasture walk and hands-on training on pasture condition evaluation, grazing utilization, management practices, and the identification of forages in pastures. Participants were also engaged in herbicide trials and demonstrations, as well as fecal sample analysis.

“Over the years, we have been managing our ranches based on the information handed down and shared amongst local ranchers,” said Tinian rancher and workshop participant Sam Palacios. “It is important for us now to educate ourselves in order to manage our farms better in order to improve our profitability and sustainability.”

Presenters at both workshops include Dr. Mark S. Thorne, University of Hawaii Range and Livestock Management Specialist, and Pasture and Livestock Extension Agents Glen Fukumoto, John Powley, and Matt Stevenson.

“Looking at the turn out for this workshop, our ranchers have shown that they are appreciative of the assistance that this team is providing us in developing a curriculum specifically for ranchers,” said Joe Dela Cruz, chairman of the Tinian Cattlemen’s Association. “It is fantastic to know that the Grazing Academy Team is committed to building our capacity over the long-run so that we can reach our goals of having sustainable production of high quality grass-fed beef.”

Similar workshops will be held on Saipan and Guam in January 2010. The Marianas Grazing Academy project has been made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, CSREES Outreach for Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (OASDFR).

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