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…]

Letter to the Editor: OK dairy farmers, it’s now up to you!

OK dairy farmers, it’s now up to you!

Do you as a dairy farmer really think the margin insurance program will help you to manage your farm in a more efficient way? Well, let’s look at it realistically! The Secretary of Agriculture announced on Jan. 12 that slightly over 23,000 dairy farmers signed up for the margin insurance program. Now however, nearly one half of those producers signed up for the minimum coverage of $4 per hundred weight (cwt). Allegedly, there are 46,000 dairy farmers in the United States. These figures mean that between 34-35,000 dairy farmers did not sign up for the program, or took only the minimum coverage. This is a long ways from being a real exciting support for the program. [Read more…]