Cattle Feeder’s Day

CM-MR-3-Cattle Feeder's 1by Steve Wagner

There are many who attend the annual Cattle Feeder Days at Lancaster’s Farm and Home Center to hear retired Penn State economist Lou Moore’s fairly close to unerring predictions about what to expect in the coming year. When Cheryl Fairbairn, Penn State Extension Livestock Team, stepped to the microphone this year to say that Lou would not be in attendance, an audible groan from the audience aptly reflected the collective mood at Moore’s absence. Only on the previous night did he communicate that his wife and sons persuaded him not to make the two hour car trip alone, that his 80-plus years could prove to be a liability. But Fairbairn read what Moore would have told his audience had he been there in person: It’s going to be a good year overall. [Read more…]

An update on the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project

by George Looby, DVM

For several years, the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project has been aiding individuals wishing to get started in farming with the information, support and training that they need to make the transition from their present line of work into the some area of agriculture. With headquarters in Lowell, MA this organization serves to assist those individuals in the greater Lowell area who wish to explore farming as a career field and acquire the necessary skills to make their choice a successful one. In the early years of its development the program’s focus was to help immigrant farmers make the anticipated difficult transition from the methods they used in their homeland to the technology used in this country. Today the scope of the program has expanded so that anyone with an interest can make use of the New Entry Program. [Read more…]

Rockingham cattlemen send ‘hope’ West

CM-MR-2-HOPE 1Second cattle-drive underway in Virginia for South Dakota ranchers

by Sherry Bunting

HARRISONBURG, VA — When Jim Lam read the accounts after Storm Atlas hit South Dakota last October, he was moved in a way that was hard for him to explain. “It broke my heart to see this,” said the longtime cattleman and Rockingham County Feeder Cattle Association president.

The freak early autumn blizzard came without much warning. It started with rain, followed by four feet of snow Oct. 4-6 and resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of cattle. Not only was part of the calf crop lost just weeks before fall roundup and sale, affecting ranch income for the whole next year, the loss of more cows than calves will affect ranch income for the next two years. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time for a rancher to rebuild given the beef herd is the smallest in 60 years and western breeding stock is in short supply. [Read more…]

Benefits of cover crops

by Sanne Kure-Jensen

More and more growers are planting cover crops to improve soil moisture, reduce erosion and maximize profits. Cover crops can include grasses, legumes and forbs planted for seasonal cover. Over time, using cover crops improves yields, organic matter and soil water conservation. This change is most noticeable with diverse crop rotation. [Read more…]

Researching best practices for grazing farms

CEWN-MR-1-Researching best pracby Tamara Scully

While grazing practitioners use a variety of management tools to care for their land and animals, it can be difficult to quantify exactly how much benefit different practices make. Juan Alvez, PhD., of the University of Vermont’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture, has launched a three-year research study designed to see what differences, if any, a variety of farm management practices actually do make.

Quantifying management practices

The basis of grazing systems is grass. The quality and quantity of forage available to the animals is enhanced by a variety of management techniques designed to build soil health. Alvez is studying approximately 20 practices, on three very different grass-based Vermont farms, to determine the impact they have on soil health. [Read more…]