In an era when many farmers are going bigger to survive, Mike and Heidi Dolloff have kept cow numbers and milk quality consistent, which helps ensure their 160-cow Holstein farm in Springfield, VT, remains both sustainable and profitable. They pay meticulous attention to detail, whether in selection of herd genetics or improving crop yields or cow comfort, never losing sight of their goal to keep this a viable family farm they can pass onto the next generation. Continue reading
The Future Farmers of America has been traditionally linked to Vocational Agricultural centers in our high schools. According to www.ffa.org, 91 percent of FFA members are currently enrolled in grades 9-12, and are “challenged to real-life, hands-on tests of skills used to prepare them for more than 300 careers in the agriculture industry.” The National FFA Organization also puts a high priority on leadership, business, social and speaking skills. Continue reading
CULLEN, VA — “This was kind of the last piece of the puzzle,” said Charlotte County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent Bob Jones, visiting one of the twice-weekly auctions at the new Southside Produce Auction facility.
The auction began in 2012, but its foundation was laid with a series of prior developments. An Amish community has been growing in Charlotte County for the past 15 years, with members coming from more developed communities in Pennsylvania and Delaware. The newcomers were used to living in places with a produce auction and hence knew the benefits of such a marketplace, though they themselves typically hadn’t been involved in growing produce. Throughout the county, though, more and more people were starting their own produce and horticulture operations. Continue reading
Where have Dorpers been all our lives? And now that they’re here, what can we do with them?
“Dorpers are a breed of sheep that have been in this country for about 20 years,” according to Doug Gillespie, executive secretary for the American Dorper Sheep Breeders’ Society, “and they are growing by leaps and bounds.” Dorpers are meat sheep originally bred in South Africa. Their most familiar trait is a totally black head on an otherwise white body. The Dorper breed is a successful crossing of Dorset and Persian sheep, using the first three letters of each to coin the name. “You’re seeing a huge Dorper influence in the lamb industry in this country today,” Gillespie continued. “They are extremely fast maturing sheep and they are easy keepers. They don’t have to be sheared because they are what we call a shedding breed. They do grow some fuzz, but they shed it off as the weather warms up, which saves the cost of shearing.” Parenthetically, Gillespie notes that wool is so depressed in the American market that it hardly covers the cost of shearing. And shearers are hard to find. Gillespie also says Dorpers are the future of the sheep business. Continue reading