One day in school for a grassland farmer can change the farm forever, says a University of Missouri Extension forage specialist.

A novel endophyte fescue school tells how to increase calf gains, cow’s milk, herd health and reproduction rates, says Craig Roberts, a member of the Alliance for Grassland Renewal.

The fescue schools bring new profit potential to every grazing farm that has pastures with toxic Kentucky 31 fescue, says Roberts.

The group has openings in the four schools to be held March 30 to April 2 across the state.

The planners have condensed three days of information into one seven-hour day, Roberts says. “This makes it possible for a farmer with an off-farm job to attend.”

The schools will be at research centers of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Each research farm has demonstration plots of novel endophyte fescue being grazed.

Dates, places and contacts are:

  • March 30. Southwest Center, 145148 Highway H, Mount Vernon; Carla Rathmann, 417-466-2148.
  • March 31. Wurdack Farm, 164 Bales Road, Cook Station; Will McClain, 573-775-2135.
  • April 1. Beef Research and Teaching Farm (MU South Farm), 5151 Old Millers Road, Columbia; Lena Johnson, 573-882-7327.
  • April 2. Forage Systems Research Center, 21262 Genoa Road, Linneus; FSRC, 660-895-5121.

All start at 9 a.m. and end by 5 p.m. “We’ve set times so people can drive a couple of hours and still get the full day. Costs are cut by not having an overnight stay,” Roberts says. The enrollment includes lunch and breaks.

Agenda and enrollment details are at

The toxin that protects the tall fescue grass and boosts longevity also harms all grazing livestock.

The schools in this round will contain the top teachers from all participants, Roberts says.

“We will hear from the people who found the new novel endophytes that have replaced the toxic endophytes,” he said. “Farmers will talk to people who developed the technology. Also, some of the first farmers to plant the new fescues will tell of their success. Those attending the schools will hear the news firsthand.

“Like the economic impact of the grazing school, the Alliance fescue schools will bring huge benefits to the state.”

Every company that has a new patented endophyte will be present.

Special attention is given to the hands-on skills for setting the no-till drills to plant the new varieties.

The replacement is not a one-step operation. First, the old stand of toxic fescue must be eradicated. The hardy toxic fescue is not easy to kill. But, done right, the reseeding can be a huge financial success, Roberts says.

The teachers promise a “power-packed seven hours” to those who sign up and attend the schools. “What you learn will change your farm forever.

“The livestock will repay you for providing better, nontoxic forage.”