Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council will explore how horse owners can best utilize their land for grazing and protect soil and water resources at the same time during this year's equine forage conference on March 2 through 4.

The conference will be repeated on Monday, March 2, at the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Middleburg, Va.; Tuesday, March 3, at the Elk’s Lodge No. 389 in Charlottesville, Va.; and Wednesday, March 4, at the Southwest Virginia 4-H Educational Center in Abingdon, Va. Registration for each session will begin at 8 a.m., and events will end at 3 p.m.

“When times are tough economically, it’s a good idea for horse owners to understand costs related to grazing versus feeding hay,” said Shea Porr, superintendent of the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center. “This conference is designed to help horse owners learn about pasture management, from establishing good pasture to maintaining the fields in the most cost effective way.”

Speakers will present information on a variety of topics, including the economics of grazing systems, choosing appropriate forage species for horse pastures, pasture fertilization and establishment methods, and fencing and watering systems to manage grazing:

  • Gordon Groover, associate professor of agricultural and applied economics and farm management Extension specialist, will discuss the issues, costs, and tradeoffs in choosing between grazing and hay.
  • Ozzie Abaye, associate professor of crop and soil environmental science, will discuss forages for horse pastures.
  • Chris Teutsch, associate professor of crop and soil environmental science and forage Extension specialist, will provide insights into managing and maintaining soil fertility when prices of nutrients are sky-high.
  • Agriculture and natural resources Extension agents Carl Stafford, Carrie Swanson, and Phil Blevins will explain methods of forage establishment to ensure a healthy pasture.
  • Lewis Sapp of Stay Tuff Fence Manufacturing will discuss fence design considerations when developing a fencing plan for horses on pasture.
  • Dana Ernst, Emily Nelson, and Danny Boyer of the Virginia Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide information on watering systems for horses on pasture.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service are supporting the conferences. The early registration fee, which must be postmarked by Feb. 23, is $25. After the deadline for early registration, the fee is $35.

For more information or to register for the conference, contact Margaret Kenny at (434) 292-5331.