Mastitis is the most common disease affecting dairy cattle. “Preventing mastitis is certainly important but identifying it is equally important,” said Ernest Hovingh, DVM/PhD, a highly visible presence at ag gatherings, he averages about 100 presentations a year, often more. His original topic at the 2015 Lebanon Dairy & Crops Compliance Day was ‘Objectively Investigating Milk Quality Issues’, but mastitis took front and center. After identifying mastitis, he says, “it must be properly managed.” Hovingh opened with a Socratic questioning method, wanting to know from attendees if they could tell from varied slides “whether or not this cow has mastitis”; if not, what could it be? [Read more…]
Annual and Italian ryegrass have recently received more attention from farmers, university researchers, and the agricultural industry. Primary uses for this crop include: annual haylage crop, companion crop for new seedings of perennial forages (instead of oats), cover cropping, pasture enhancement, and erosion control. Under good management, ryegrass forage yield and quality are typically very impressive. Like most tools, if used properly it can be very profitable; if used improperly, this species can cause economic damage. Because of the similarities and between these grasses, the term ‘ryegrass’ will be used for in the remainder of this article unless important functional distinctions are being made. [Read more…]
Like many New England farms, Hardy Farm is the result of multiple generations working together for the love of farming. Henry Hardy recalls in the early 1950’s, his father kept a few cows and worked at the local woolen mill, “We were a typical farm family.” he said. It wasn’t an easy journey from just a few cows to the successful rotational grazing operation in Farmington, Maine. In the 1940’s, the entire cowherd was lost to Bang’s disease (brucellosis or contagious abortion), which threatened many cattle herds prior to a national eradication effort. Determined to start again, the Hardys purchased any cattle available, Guernseys, Ayrshires and Holsteins. [Read more…]
Honey bees are the most widely known pollinator species. However, recent research shows there are numerous pollinator species and that the more diverse the species the increased pollination benefits. “There are thousands of bee species, some are solitary, some nest in the ground, others in twigs and trees,” explained David Crowder, Assistant Professor of Entomology at Washington State University. [Read more…]
During the recent Best of NAMA (National Agri-Marketing Association) awards banquet, held in Kansas City, MO, Bruce Button, Vice President and General Manager of Lee Publications, Palatine Bridge, NY, received the prestigious Dilworth Award.
The Dilworth Award for Innovation honors true originality in volunteer efforts by an individual or chapter. Bruce worked single-handedly for over five years to see that a student chapter was started at the State University of New York, Cobleskill. The student chapter has gotten off to a great start with his guidance. They attended their first NAMA convention, participating in the Student Marketing Competition. [Read more…]
No one has to tell a farmer that poorly drained soils are a problem throughout many regions of the United States, and can have significant negative impact on crop production.
“Poorly drained soils mean poor crops,” said Dr. Jeff Strock, University of Minnesota. “If we can get good drainage it can help remove excess water from the root zone of growing plants.” [Read more…]
Farmers have understood for centuries that animal manure helps return vital nutrients to crop fields. Many farmers pull mechanical spreaders behind fossil fuel-burning tractors to move manure into fields, but at Polyface farm, livestock spread their own manure. Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley advocates rotational grazing; they blend livestock and pasture species to puzzle pests.
Well managed grazing concentrates livestock in one area for a short period and then move them on. At Polyface farm, portable electric fences contain grazing beef herds. Farmers move the fences and livestock daily. Salatin said his animals look forward to their fresh “salad bar” each morning. The cattle graze forage at a sustainable level. They trample their manure patties ensuring good soil contact and starting the decomposition process. [Read more…]
Have you ever had a dream so vivid it woke you from a sound sleep? Two weeks ago, it seems I fell prey to dreaming of green pastures, fence moves and frolicking cows. This joyful trance was rudely interrupted by a loud “MOO”. It was the kind of sound that suggests it’s a bit too real. This was not a dream, but what we affectionately call, “A class one farm emergency.”
As I bolted from the confines of a comfortable bed in unison with the “The cows are out” declaration, I saw several heifers munching on my wife’s shrubs under our window. Confusion, panic and anger swept over my demeanor as my wife, daughter and I tried to find some appropriate cow-catching attire at 4 a.m. My mind and heart raced as I propelled my sock-less feet into the cold rubber boots not thinking I was about to commit a fatal mistake. [Read more…]