Close attention at calving time pays off

C4-MR-3-Close attention 1by Sally Colby

When there’s trouble during a calving, someone on the farm is usually willing and able to don an obstetric sleeve and help that cow safely deliver the calf. But the decision to assist a cow should be a part of careful observation skills and overall good cow sense. [Read more…]

Maness uses lanes and a mclanahan sand separator to reclaim clean bedding sand

CM-MR-3-Maness uses 1by Karl H. Kazaks

STATESVILLE, NC — There’s something about doubling your herd size that makes you reconsider how to manage and handle inputs.

That’s how Jeff Maness decided to take a new approach to reclaiming bedding sand on his dairy. He went from dredging sand from manure pits to using passive settling lanes and a 36-inch McLanahan sand-manure separator to catch the majority of his dairy’s sand before it reaches the pits.

By installing the sand catching system, M & M Dairy (a partnership between Maness and his wife Carolyn) has cut its sand use by 95 percent.

Five years ago, the dairy was buying about five tractor trailer loads of sand a week, when milking 800 cows.
“It was a huge expense,” Maness said. [Read more…]

Kerwin Kunath tests silvopasture in southside Virginia

CM-MR-2-Kerwin Kunath 2by Karl H. Kazaks

DRAKES BRANCH, VA — Kerwin Kunath has kept cattle and grown and managed timber all his life. It was only three years ago, however, that he decided to combine the two endeavors and start practicing silvopasture.

Kunath — who raises registered Charolais as well as commercial Charolais-Angus crosses and Cheviots — started with an 18 acre stand of loblolly pines near his home here in Charlotte County.

The trees were about 27 years old and had just been thinned from about 200 trees per acre to 60 trees per acre, with most of the trees taken for chip-n-saw and a few for pulpwood. The original plantation of 600 trees had been thinned to 200 trees at age 20, with most of the harvest at that time going to pulpwood and a few to chip-n-saw. [Read more…]

Keith Tuck increases profitability with managed grazing

CM-MR-2-Keith Tuck 1by Karl H. Kazaks
MONETA, VA — The forecast was predicting winter weather — a mix of rain, freezing rain, and snow.

Just a few years previously, Keith Tuck would have been girding himself to brave the weather, to go out and spend two hours feeding hay — each and every day until the weather passed, and then continuing each and every day until April, when the grass started to grow again.

This time, Tuck planned to move the temporary electric fence that allows him to strip-graze stockpiled forage (mostly fescue with some clover).

“I can move the fence in 30 minutes by myself,” Tuck said. His plan was to move the fence before the weather hit. [Read more…]

University hosts panel discussion on GMOs in the food system

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAby Tamara Scully
The University of Maine at Machias recently held a panel discussion on genetically modified foods, as a part of its ongoing “Food and Community” series of events. Panelists for the discussion were: Maine organic farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association; John Jemison, water quality and soil specialist with University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Eric Jones, assistant professor of plant biology at University of Maine at Machias; and Andrei Alyokhin, professor and graduate coordinator with University of Maine’s School of Biology and Ecology. The panel briefly introduced their views on genetic engineering and its use in our food system, and then answered questions from the audience. [Read more…]