Grazing managers have been struggling with difficult situations caused by drought, and the tough times aren’t over yet. Though it’s still hard for some to get by from day to day, the current drought will surely end.

Thinking about the future — the easier times that will come, as well as the inevitable next drought — is critical for good management of range and introduced pasture.

The Noble Foundation’s annual Grazing School is an intense, three-day event, specially designed for grazing managers, where participants learn through a combination of hands-on activities, class time and tours of Noble research properties. The course will be held Oct. 24-26 at Noble’s Ardmore, Okla. campus.

“We understand there is not a lot of optimism right now for grazing because of dry conditions the last two years. But, conditions will get better. This school will help you better deal with the current situation and drought recovery and will provide you with management tools to prepare you for future weather cycles,” says James Rogers, a Noble pasture and range specialist.

Noble experts will cover all aspects of grazing, including ecosystem processes, estimating forage production, grass mechanics, grazing systems, behavior of grazing animals, forage flow and animal performance, prescribed burning and extending the grazing season. A segment on drought management is included, as well.

“One of the most popular aspects of the Grazing School is the small-group grazing exercises,” Rogers says. “We divide the participants into groups, and they are given problems to solve using actual paddocks we have set up. They estimate animal consumption and the forage on hand in the paddock, then come up with a plan to meet specific utilization requirements.”

Rogers says another participant favorite is the “plant walk,” where the group walks around a native range area while Noble specialists identify plants in the field and discuss their uses.

This year’s school will offer continuing education units for Society for Range Management and American Forage and Grassland Council members.

Cost for the Grazing School is $200 per participant, which includes daily lunch and supper, grazing stick, cap and notebooks. To register, contact Annie Coble at (580) 224-6411 or macoble@noble.org. Online registration is available at www.noble.org/agevents. The deadline for registration and payment is Oct. 1.

Lodging is available at the Ardmore Holiday Inn for $65+tax per night; call (580) 223-7130 for reservations.