Annual Grazing Conference

MGFN Annual Grazing Conference originally scheduled
for March 28, 2020 at KVCC is now canceled.

Given the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation in Maine, UMaine Extension is making the decision to cancel indoor events of more than 20 attendees happening through April 6. We will process refunds as soon as possible. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Richard Kersbergen at or 207.342.5971.


March 28, 2020
9:30 AM – 3:00 PM

Featured Speaker: Troy Bishopp, “The Grass Whisperer”

Kennebec Valley Community College, Harold Alfond Campus
17 Stanley Road, Hinckley, Maine

Lunch and snacks are provided in conference fees.

Non-member registration: $60
MBPN (current members): $45
MGFN members: $45 (your 2020 dues of $25 will be collected separately at the door by check made out to MGFN)
Each additional person: $25
Students (18 yrs & under): $25
Vendor booth: $100


8:45-9:30 – Registration

9:30 – Welcome and MGFN Announcements

9:50-10:50 – Concurrent Session 1

Online Direct Marketing Your Livestock ProductsDan Kaplan, Heartstone Farm

Dan Kaplan from Heartstone Farm will share some of the ways his farm is using digital/online marketing to grow their business. Heartstone Farm now ships an average of more than 50 orders a week as far away as  Chicago. Dan will walk us through lessons he has learned in what works and what doesn’t – from Facebook to Google advertising to how to build an “ecommence” web site for your farm.

Tree Leaf Fodders for Cattle, Sheep, Goats and HogsShana Hanson

Shana recently completed a SARE Farmer Grant (SARE FNE18-897) in which her livestock accepted 70% of fresh, chipped, and ensiled tree leaf fodder.  Nutritional analysis on winter storage fodders were obtained thanks to a VGFA Mini-Grant. Discussion will focus on practical considerations for tree leaf use on modern farms.

Soils, Water and FarmlandDave Rocque, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and State Soil Scientist

Do you have a wet pasture or hayfield? Do you want to know why it is wet and if there is anything that can be done to make it drier? Are you considering the purchase of a farm or other acreage you want to convert into pastureland or a hayfield? Are you considering expanding a pasture or hayfield?

The answer to all of these questions is to have a good understanding of the soils and hydrology on the property. State Soil Scientist David Rocque, will explain how you can find out what your soils and hydrology are and what can be done to improve the wetter ones.

Understanding and Using a Forage AnalysisRichard Kersbergen, Extension Professor

Forage quality is key to profitable livestock operations in the Northeast. Knowing how to take, interpret an analysis and formulate rations to maximize profit and animal is important for livestock producers.

11:00-12:00 – Keynote Speaker

Troy Bishopp, “The Grass Whisperer”

My Quest for Extended Grazing: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Take a real-life journey with the grass whisperer through his land management decisions and challenges of getting more grazing days in a cool season perennial pasture system.  Spoiler Alert:  It’s not as easy as you might think.

Grass whispering and linger grazing are lifelong observational pursuits devoted to the appreciation and management of a grassland ecosystem and its tenets that contribute positively to the financial, environmental and social well-being of a nation.  It’s where Troy Bishopp’s passion and craftsmanship lives—in the pasture.

More than being a 4th generation grass farmer, conservation professional, grazing advocate and award-winning free-lance writer/photographer, he is a practical steward and storyteller that shares his real experiences, good and bad, which can stimulate ah-ha moments for pasture management decision-makers.

Troy manages Bishopp Family Farm, an organic, 100% grass-fed, custom grazing operation in Deansboro, NY.  The farm is a distinguished NYS Agriculture Society’s Century Farm Award recipient for continuous operation since 1890.  Troy is a National Grassfed Exchange Conference award beneficiary.  His award-winning media work is featured in Lee Newspapers,, and other regional and national media outlets with over 500 published articles.

Noon-12:50 – Lunch/ Social Time/ MGFN Board Discussion (volunteer board members welcome to attend)

1:00-1:50 – Concurrent Session 2

The Joys and Fun of Grazing Planning and Record KeepingTroy Bishopp

Imagine less stress during the grazing season, making more money and getting vacation days with the family.  Learn how proactive planning, monitoring and recordkeeping make grazing farms much more resilient to the ups and downs of weather and life.  Action based on knowledge is a powerful tool.

Mud Management in the Horse PastureDonna Coffin, Extension Professor

If you have horses on limited acres of land, especially in Maine where the average annual precipitation is over 40 inches, muddy conditions are a challenge for your operation.

Mud can transmit disease, create unsafe footing, provide a breeding place for insects, make chore time unpleasant, encourage poisonous plants, and increase polluted runoff from your property.

Topics for this session include challenges of pasturing horses, factors that contribute to mud in your pastures, how to rate the productivity of your pastures, review of possible remedies for your mud situation, management of sacrifice areas, steps to pasture renovation and cautions with turning horses out to pasture.

A Primer to Pastured PorkDr. Colt W. Knight, Assistant Professor and State Livestock Specialist, University of Maine

This talk will focus on breed selection, nutrition, cutting percentages, selling wholesale/retail, and basic housing and fencing information. Dr. Knight lived and worked on the University of Kentucky- Animal Research center for swine as an undergrad, helped manage swine at Angelo State University and the University of Arizona as a grad student, and oversees the pastured swine project at the University of Maine Witter Teaching and Research Facility.  He also maintains a small herd of pastured Berkshire pigs at his personal farm.

2:00 until done! – Concurrent Session 3

Climb It Change: Trees and Shrubs as Vertical Forage Systems for Goats and SheepCarol Delaney, newly hired Livestock Specialist for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation

Do your part in the mitigation of global warming, soil erosion, and water imbalances by introducing, using, and managing woody perennials in your world of forage production for goats. Call it agroforestry, silvopasture, cut-and-carry, or extensive grazing, you can add fast growing trees and shrubs to feed an animal species that has evolved to eat a largely arboreal diet. Starting with some pasture basics, we will go vertical and share experiences and ideas for forage species, rotations, and potential dry matter production levels.

Working with the No-Till DrillDiane Schivera and MGFN members

MGFN has a no-till drill that members can rent to introduce new forage species and renovate pastures. Come hear folks that have used the drill.  Learn how best to use the drill. What works, what doesn’t.  How to get your time scheduled.

What are your options for rejuvenating old hayfields?Rick Kersbergen, Extension Professor

How do you economically bring back that old hayfield into productive pasture. Questions and answers to this and many more questions about hayfield renovation will be discussed in this session.

Climate Adaptation ResourcesSonja Birthisel, UMaine Postdoctoral Research Associate & Lecturer

Researchers at the University of Maine are looking for farmers to participate in a focus group on climate adaptation resources as part of a USDA-AFRI funded project. This focus group will be held during the last block of concurrent sessions at the Conference. Participants will be compensated $50 for their time on a per farm basis, with participation limited to 10 farms. If you are interested in taking part or would like to learn more, please contact Sonja Birthisel at or 207-228-3601.

Pre-registration for this focus group is requested, as space is limited. Pre-register for this session when you sign in the morning of the conference.

The University of Maine is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.To request more information or a reasonable accommodation, call the Waldo County Extension office at 207.342.5971 or 800-287-1426 in Maine.