Establishing a safety culture

CEWM-CN-MR-2-Safety Culture9804by Sally Colby

Dairy farmer Walt Moore says prior to 2007, his farm had several workers compensation claims. “We had one really big one,” he said. “The herd manager was injured while moving a heifer. He came back in limited capacity, but was never able to fully return to work.”

After several more claims, Moore’s rates went up. Eventually, his insurance company decided that the farm was a high risk and dropped them. “We had to go with the state workers program,” said Moore, adding that he had to stay with that program for three years. “The rates are substantially higher than commercial insurance.” [Read more…]

Direct marketing of local foods

by Tamara Scully

Annual sales of direct-marketed local foods has decreased by at least $123,000 during the 2007-2012 period, in northern New Jersey, New York City, and in many portions of New England, particularly along the coast, according to a recently released USDA report. Eastern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier region of New York State were a part of this trend as well. While the majority of the country saw no major changes in direct-to-consumer local food sale dollars, a few pockets of very large increases were scattered across the nation, including in the northernmost regions of Maine.

“Foods sold through direct or intermediate marketing channels” are defined as local food for the purpose of the USDA’s Economic Research Service study, Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: Report to Congress, which was released on Jan. 28, 2015, Sarah Low, ERS Economist, said. Farms selling via these distribution channels are considered to be local food farms, for the purpose of the report. [Read more…]

From cow bells to wedding bells: Liskeys transform an old barn into an event space

CM-MR-2-Cross-Keys-1by Karl H. Kazaks

HARRISONBURG, VA – On many farms there’s an old barn or building that’s no longer serving its original purpose. That is strikingly true at Tim and Karen Liskey’s dairy farm, where their 100-year-old bank barn was renovated into an event space known as Cross Keys Barn. “I love weddings,” said Karen Liskey, she will be facilitating plenty of them in the future. The first wedding to take place in the newly renovated barn was last year, their daughter, Rosemary’s wedding. The upper level, the old hay area, is now a 3,220 square foot room with a vaulted ceiling, perfect for receptions. The lower level of the barn is enclosed on one side, with exposed limestone, it’s now a pre-function area. [Read more…]

Grazing dairy strategies

CM-CN-MR-1-Grazing strategiesby Tamara Scully

There’s a lot of talk these days about different grazing systems. Mob grazing, management intensive grazing (MIG), ultra-high stock density (UHSD) grazing and tall grass grazing systems. Most concentrate on beef cattle production. But can these systems translate to dairy cows? In a system where dairy profitability and milk production is dependent upon excellent forage quality and dry matter intake, can these type of grazing strategies make sense?

Mena Hautau, field and forage crop educator with Berks County Extension, recently decided to take a look at what type of “mob grazing” was already happening on southeast Pennsylvania grazing dairies. A Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant allowed her to observe grazing systems on four dairies which have already incorporated some type of intensive, managed grazing system, and are grazing tall grass, using frequent rotations, and grazing in higher densities. They were also all certified organic, although this was not intentional, and all were being managed by dairymen with more than two decades of experience. The dairies are grazing-based dairies with little grain or total mixed rations being fed. [Read more…]

Meat is healthy: the message at this year’s VA Forage and Grassland Council meetings

CM-MR-1-VA-FORAGE01by Karl H. Kazaks

WYTHEVILLE, VA — In recent years, the Virginia Forage and Grassland Council has focused on a variety of topics at its annual winter meetings. They have been devoted to (among other things) educating attendees on aspects of animal health, livestock science, agronomy and farm management strategies — such as how to build healthy soils and why that affects livestock production — grazing strategies, encouraging livestock to eat weeds as well as strategies for putting up silage and haylage. [Read more…]