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Popular Texas grazing school for novices accepting students

OVERTON – The Grazing School for Novices is now accepting enrollment for the 2007 spring classes. The spring classes will be held at the Texas A&M University System Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Overton.

The grazing school classes, each three days long, are some of the most well-received educational programs ever conducted at the center, said Dr. Monte Rouquette, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researcher.

Enrollment for either of two 2007 classes, held March 27 -29 and April 3-5, is limited to 50 students, and both classes are already half filled, Rouquette said.

"If prospective students want to secure a place in either school, they should call and register now," he said.

To register or for more information, contact Jennifer Lloyd by phone 903-834-6191 or by e-mail: [email protected] . Lloyd will have information on class openings, local accommodations and driving directions to the center, Rouquette said.

The school has become popular by serving a new class of ranchers – those who don't so much want to fine-tune an existing operation but who are relatively new to ranching and want intensive training in the fundamentals of soil, pasture and cattle management.

"The grazing school is for the novice, and that's what we advertise it for," Rouquette said. "(Novice) doesn't mean it's for a person who has absolutely no knowledge, but for those persons with a range of skills or experience – someone who is just getting into the business, someone who's been in but would like to fine-tune their knowledge of soil tests, forage analysis, animal performance, animal working, inoculations, vaccinations – the whole pasture-animal-care scenario."

About half the three-days for each class is spent in the field for demonstrations of all aspects of running a pasture-beef operation. Covered are: establishing and maintaining high-quality forages, calibrating sprayers, inoculating legume seed, castrating, vaccinating, and de-horning calves, managing pasture and livestock.

Attendees also learn how to establish a business plan for a ranch, keep proper records, evaluate alternative agricultural enterprises, set the correct stocking rates, choose the appropriate cattle breeds for East Texas, pick the optimum animal breeding and calving seasons, promote good animal health, and market their cattle.

By necessity, this kind of training requires a lot of one-on-one help from the instructors, all of whom are faculty either with the Experiment Station or Texas Cooperative Extension. It is because of this need for one-on-one interaction that enrollment is limited to 50, Rouquette said.

In past years – this is the seventh year the class has been held – most students hailed from Texas. But there have also been enrollees from Alaska, Arizona, California, New York, and the country of Bolivia, Rouquette said.

Cost of registration for either class is $350 per person, which includes two evening meals, two lunches, break refreshments and educational materials, including a nearly 400-page workbook written by the Overton center faculty.

Detailed information on the grazing school and the Overton center can be found at .

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