MDC invites livestock owners to March 1 grazing workshop in St. James

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ROLLA, Mo. – Pastures that are dominated by native grasses can provide high-quality forage for livestock and can also furnish good habitat for wildlife.

Cattle producers can learn more about how the use of native warm-season grasses can benefit livestock and native wildlife at a Warm-Season Grass Establishment Workshop that will be held March 1 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in St. James. The address is 316 Scioto St. Attendees will learn how to establish, graze, and hay native warm-season grasses.

This workshop is a collaborative effort of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), MFA, and the Soil and Water Conservation District of Phelps, Pulaski, and Crawford counties. The workshop will be from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. People can register online at or by calling 573-364-6202, ext. 3.

When Missouri was settled in the 1800s, native warm-season grasses could be found in many areas of the state. In addition to serving as habitat for a variety of wildlife species, these native grasses soon acquired an additional importance as livestock forage. Early livestock owners quickly realized these prairie grasses were good for haying or grazing. However, over time these warm-season grasses were gradually nudged out by fescue and other non-native cool-season grasses. This transition eliminated plants that were needed by local wildlife and also got rid of a good summer grazing source for livestock.

Today, an increasing number of cattle producers are rediscovering the benefits of native warm-season grasses. Adding warm-season grass areas to a grazing system that already features cool-season grass creates a forage system that allows livestock owners to keep their herds feeding on high quality forage for a longer period of time.

The reason is that this merger combines grasses that have two different growing periods. Warm- and cool-season grasses are most nutritious while they are vigorously growing. Cool-season grasses are thus named because they grow most during the spring and fall. Meanwhile, native grasses such as big bluestem, little bluestem, Indian grass and switch grass are known as “warm-season” grasses because their peak growth periods are in late spring and summer. By utilizing both types of grasses during their periods of prime quality, livestock owners can keep their herds feeding on high-nutrition forage for the entire grazing season.

There are benefits for wildlife, too. Native warm-season grasses provide valuable habitat for a number of wildlife species.

More information about using warm-season grasses in a livestock grazing operation can be found at