Submitted to: Cow Country News
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/25/2016
Publication Date: 8/1/2016
Citation: Aiken, G.E. 2016. From the Lab Bench: A tribute to Russell Hackley, a true grass farmer. Cow Country News. Pgs. 68-69.
Interpretive Summary: The cattle and forage industries lost one of their strongest advocates. Russell Hackley, a stocker producer from Grayson County, passed away on June 11, 2016. Russell was a true grass farmer who strongly believed you must first be a good grass farmer before you can be a good cattle producer. His thoughts were that a good grass farmer, must know: 1) how productive their pastures are, 2) how to make them productive, 3) how close to graze pastures before the cattle are rotated, and 4) know the quality and productivity potentials of their forage. Russell utilized white and red clover and an assortment of novel endophyte-infected tall fescues in his stocker operation. He had a clear understanding of when these forages had their highest quality and growth potentials. Russell was a prime example of how a really good grass farmer can have a successful cattle operation. Perhaps one of Russell’s legacies to forage-based livestock production is for cattle producers to account for benefits and costs in making management decisions to implement a new technology. Scientists should honor his legacy by making sure all information is acquired so cattle producers can make accurate decisions in using a new technology.
Technical Abstract: An article was written about the legacy of Russell Hackley, a stocker producer from Grayson County, who passed away on June 11, 2016 and was a strong advocate for the cattle and forage industries. In memory of Russell, I would like to discuss some things I overheard him say about agriculture and forage-based cattle production that really made me think and appreciate. This was his way of saying that the next generation managing the farm will depend on you using sustainable practices. When Russell introduced himself as a cattleman, he would also add, “But I am first a grass farmer.” He would oftentimes ask, “How can you raise cattle if you can’t grow grass?” As a scientist I can really appreciate this because what he was saying is that a good cattle producers and grass farmers must know: 1) how productive their pastures are, 2) how to make them productive, 3) how close to graze pastures before the cattle are rotated, and 4) know the quality and productivity potentials of their forage. Russell was really good about keeping up with the new technologies being developed to improve efficiencies in cattle and forage production; however, he would also say that scientists should not only know what the benefits are to animal production when implementing a technology, but to also assess the input costs associated with it. Scientists should honor his legacy by making sure all information is acquired so cattle producers can accurately assess cost effectiveness.