Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pasture-Based Dairy Course

Online Course - January 17 - March 23, 2012
Laboratory - March 24-27, 2012

The University of Missouri (MU) is offering a 9-week team-taught (14 instructors) course covering the topic of pasture-based dairy farming.  The course was offered to MU undergraduates in Spring 2011 for the first time and received very positive reviews.  Beginning in Spring 2012, the course will still be offered to traditional MU students, but will also be opened up to off-campus and non-traditional students such as current dairy farmers that are considering transitioning from confinement to management intensive grazing, or to those that are considering starting a pasture-based operation.

This course is offered as an online course – all you need is access to an internet connection and about 3-5 hours per week (9 weeks) of your time to listen to lectures (this is not just boring text that you need to read, these are oral lectures with accompanying slides that the instructor delivers and records for you to listen to at your convenience) and complete your assignments.  You pick the times when you would like to learn about pasture-based dairying - the schedule is flexible.  The only rigid scheduling items are 1) one hour per week will be scheduled for the whole class to participate in an online discussion with the instructors, and 2) assignments and exams will be posted after the discussion period and are due by the end of the week (students can complete these assignments at their leisure over the course of several days, but there is a due date).

In addition to the online lecture, there is an optional 4-day practical laboratory held at the MU Southwest Center Grazing Dairy and also on several commercial pasture-based dairies in Southwest Missouri.  The lab course will be held on four consecutive days near the end of March.  This laboratory portion of the course is optional, but students are not allowed to enroll or participate in the laboratory section without also completing the online portion of the course first.  Students will learn to implement many of the practices discussed in the online course (such as allocating pasture, measuring residuals, working with the grazing wedge, and site evaluations for new farm set-ups) and will also get to see multiple farm systems and talk with farm owners about what has and has not worked for them.  Students from the 2011 class raved that this hands-on farm experience really brought everything together for them from the online portion of the course.

Contact Matt Waldron 573-882-6354 for more information. 

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