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Pasture Walk with Jim Gerrish

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2492 South Kirkman Road LaCenter, KY 42056

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Friday, November 1, 2019

Registration at 1, Tour begins at 2

$10/person for meal

Dogwood Farm

2492 South Kirkman Road

LaCenter, KY 42056

On November 1, Jim Gerrish will tour pastures of Dogwood Farm, discussing their use of forages. Owned and operated by Toby and Debby Dulworth since 1977 in Ballard County, Kentucky, Dogwood Farm is a vertically integrated conception-to-consumer Hereford cattle operation, located on two separate properties between the communities of Bandana and Oscar. Dulworth ancestors have farmed in this area since 1897. Since its beginning in 1964 with three head of cattle, Toby's Hereford cows have grazed pastures without supplemental grain. In 1989, adaptive multi-paddock grazing began, to allow pastures ample rest between grazing periods. In 2003, Debby began marketing DWF steers and cull cows as all-natural 100 percent grass-finished Hereford beef to local customers.

When Toby married Debby in 1977, he had 30 cows grazing about 80 acres. For their first 12 years, they operated what was then a fairly typical diverse west Kentucky farm. In addition to cattle, they had a farrow-to-finish hog operation, burley tobacco and row crops of corn, wheat and soybeans. Little by little over the years, battling effects of drought and erosion, they took about two hundred acres of row-crop land back to diverse cool-season and warm-season succession forages, using managed grazing to improve soil health while lowering input costs. Ten acres of Eastern Gamagrass as well as a rented row-crop farm that grows cover crops during the winter, complement diverse permanent pastures.

After Toby resumed his teaching career at Heath High School in 1989, Debby took on much of the daily work as a cattle grazier for most of three decades. “More and more women are tackling the challenges of livestock grazing, and it might encourage some of them to know that I have been able to do this for the past thirty years,” she says. Over the years, she has also recorded pasture conditions with thousands of photos and has kept extensive journal records.

During 2018-19, a total of about 300 head of cows, calves, heifers, steers and breeding bulls—have been grazing two separate farms about a mile apart. The Dogwood Farm pastures offer examples of several different ways to affordably and profitably convert over-farmed row-crop land, most of which had been growing annual monocultures (corn, winter wheat and soybeans) for many decades, back to sustainable, regenerative and highly productive pasture. No artificial fertilizers augment the natural fertility that the forages and cattle supply.

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