Considerations for out-wintering the organic dairy herd

CEWM-MR-1-Outwinteringby Katie Navarra

Dairy operations are expensive. Costs to build and maintain facilities, purchase feed, provide proper ventilation, purchase bedding and dispose of manure add up quickly.

“It can be somewhat discouraging to new dairy farmers,” said Dr. Brad Heins at University of Minnesota-West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, MN, “a reduced input dairy (model) can be a way for new farmers to get involved without a lot of equity.”

Out wintering can be a successful method for managing a reduced input dairy herd. “The animals tend to stay relatively clean and you reduce bedding costs in out wintering systems,” he added, “but you must be able to respond to quickly changing weather conditions.”

In the webinar, titled Considerations for Out-Wintering the Organic Dairy Herd, which was hosted by eOrganic, Heins shared his results in out wintering University of Minnesota’s certified organic dairy herd. [Read more…]

Grazing 260 days in Upstate New York is Possible

CEW-MR-3-Grazing days3DEANSBORO, NY — Fifty hearty farmers from Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York braved downpours and cold temperatures to learn, discuss and verify that forward grazing planning does meet the realities of extending pasture resources into the winter season.

The goal for the day at the Bishopp Family Farm was to show others that it’s possible to increase grazing days, reduce wintering costs and maintain animal performance by using holistic planned grazing management principles and decisions to implement a stockpiled grazing program. [Read more…]

Learning the A, B, D’s at Smith Brothers Farm

CE-MR-3-Smith Bros1by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

Whether harvesting apples, raising beef or producing dairy, the Smith family can always be found busy on the farm — and this time of year baking holiday pies for their Orchard Bake Shop is keeping the family hopping.

For years the Smith family has worked the dairy and beef farm and the orchards on Jockey Street in Ballston Spa, NY.

“My grandfather moved here in 1932 and started the dairy,” explains Rick Smith, who runs the farm with his brother Bill. “He moved here from a few roads away, because there was a better barn here than at the farm he was on.” [Read more…]

Saving Small Dairy Farms

CN-MR-1-small dairy01by Tamara Scully

Dairy farms are getting bigger. As the number of dairy farms decreases, along with the number of cows being milked nationwide, the total amount of milk being produced, increases. Not only are cows producing more milk each day, they are doing so on larger and larger farms.

According to the article “Milk Production Continues Shifting to Large-Scale Farms,” by James MacDonald and Doris Newton, published in the December 2014 issue of Amber Waves, the USDA’s Economic Research Service’s magazine focusing on ERS research, analysis and policy issues related to agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America, dairy farming consolidation has been pronounced since 1992. In an industry where the number of dairy farms has decreased by 60 percent in the past two decades, this market reduction makes the possibility of starting small and mid-sized farming operations more difficult. [Read more…]