The 11th Annual Grazing Conference of the Maine Grass Farmers Network (MFGN) will be held on March 21 at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield and will feature nationally recognized speakers as well as local and regional experts. This year the conference will address issues relevant to producers, with two keynote speakers.

Gabe Brown will talk about the economics of grass-based livestock systems, discussing his family’s transition from a conventional production model to a low-input grass-finishing model. He will share how he changed the “type” of cattle they raise in order to more efficiently convert available forage and how this pertains to lowering the wintering costs of his cow herd. Additionally, he will discuss his grass-finished production model, including perennial forages and cover crops used. He will share his economic data from these practices and tell how his family stacks enterprises to add revenue streams.

Jason Rowntree, Michigan State assistant professor of beef cattle and forage utilization, will use carcass data to show how management decisions before slaughter affect beef quality. Rowntree is the faculty coordinator of Lake City Experiment Station, where research and Extension focus on forage utilization by grazing beef cattle, extending the grazing season and forage-finishing. The station also works to improve economics of small and medium-size beef producers through local and regional beef production and distribution system development.

In “What does it mean to be Humane,” Dr. Donald Hoenig, retired Maine state veterinarian and current owner of MIM Consulting, will discuss farm animal welfare: who does the certification, what are the standards, voluntary vs. mandatory, what does the future hold and why should you care?

In “Interpreting a Feed Analysis,” Derek Hines, a dairy consultant with the Feed Commodities International (FCI) team and a graduate of Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in general agriculture, will talk about how he provides his customers with nutritional and agronomic advice. He is a trusted adviser to Maine dairy producers and a valued part of the FCI team.

“Explanation of the Grass Fed Verification Program” will be presented by Steve Ross, manager of field operations, USDA, AMS, LPS, QAD Audit Services Branch. Ross is in charge of the new Grass Fed Small and Very Small verification program.

For more information and registration materials, visit the Maine Grass Farmers Network.