Roy Lee Reichenbach
Roy Lee Reichenbach’s farm is located in the outer Bluegrass Region of south central Kentucky. Most of his land is rolling to steep with excellent internal water drainage. From any angle, it is considered ideal for forage production but not ideal for conventional row crop production; too steep and potentially erodible. The relatively small acreage that is planted to row crops is planted no-till so erosion is not a problem.
The main source of livestock income is from stocker steers. He buys them at 550-575 pounds and sells them at around 850 pounds. Except for conditioning the steers with excess fall growth alfalfa and grass as grazing plus corn silage and a minimum amount of grain before marketing, forage is the only source of feed and gains on the cattle. In recent years, his forage has been primarily alfalfa and orchardgrass mix.
Roy started seeding Alfagraze when it first came on the market in 1992. He has never been without a substantial acreage since. What has it done for him and his livestock program? He has doubled the number of steers on the same acreage and maintained the size of steers that he buys and sells.
In addition to 40 acres of AmeriGraze 401+Z that that he uses mainly for grazing, he has another 80 acres of the same alfalfa that he uses for hay (for feeding and as a cash crop). "When we get caught in a drought and hay yields suffer because the lack of water, we graze these fields. They are also grazed in the fall after a hard freeze," he stated. "The quality of this new grazing alfalfa when harvested as hay is excellent and the yields and persistence are the best we have ever grown", he says.
Bill and J.B. Holtzclaw have been growing grass legume pastures as a crop since the early 1960's. J.B. passed away in April 1999, and Bill continues the tradition that has been a pattern for many Kentucky farmers as well as farmers in surrounding states.
Their program goes back thirty years or longer. In the late ‘1960's, clovers were added to the grass pastures through a program called renovation. When this happened, beef calf daily gains rose from 1.1 to 1.6 pounds a day. Then in 1993, Alfagraze was added to the mix. That year, and every year since, steer daily gains have reached 2.2 to 2.35 pounds a day. "With a grazing season of 270 days and 350 cattle, the Alfagraze has been worth an added 3/4 pound a day or 260 added pounds of steer to sell. Does that say what we think about it as a grazing crop?", Bill added.
When asked about grazing programs, Bill said, "We rotation graze. We find it makes it a lot easier to make decisions about the whole system. We mow regularly to control weeds and remove unwanted/ungrazed/overmature grazing plants. Fertilizer and lime are never overlooked. This crop is fed just like any other crop on our farm."