Southern Vermont Dairy Goat Show

CN-MR-2-Southern Vermont 1by Melody Reynolds
Hundreds of dairy goats and goat enthusiasts gathered on June 22 for the Southern Vermont Dairy Goat Show. The show was held on Route 9 in Marlboro, VT. The picturesque spot in the mountains accommodated goat trailers from every New England state.
The setting for the event was the beautiful Knoll House property, purchased in 1951 with a generous gift from Mrs. Margarethe Paxton. Paxton’s dream was to offer a location for all goat enthusiasts to participate in dairy goat educational activities. The event accomplished just that.
The show continued into the afternoon allowing all breeds of dairy goats to compete.
The judge took time to give the less experienced goat showers a brief lesson. Children as young as two lead their prized animals around the ring with the assistance of an adult.
The show moved quickly to represent all the best breedings from around New England.
Breeders work all year for these few opportunities to see how well their breeding program stacks up against others. The goats file into the ring with their handlers dressed in whites. Under the direction of the judge the handlers walk, weave and set up their animals to their best advantage.
The judge, Peter Snyder from Cowlesville, NY, lined the goats up and explained to the breeders why he has chosen this lineup. Ribbons were handed out and premiums were paid. The information is documented for the ADGA (American Dairy Goat Association) to keep track of. [Read more…]

Orchard health workshop

CN-MR-2-Orchard Health 2by George Looby, DVM
The beautiful campus of Connecticut College in New London, CT was the site for a workshop presented by the Connecticut Chapter of NOFA on orchard health viewed from the organic perspective. Michael Phillips, owner/manager of Lost Nation Orchard in northern New Hampshire, conducted an all-day session divided between a traditional lecture style presentation in the morning and then an on-site visit to the orchard at Hidden Brook Garden in Ledyard, CT in the afternoon. Michael is a long time advocate of organic management and is the author of The Apple Grower. In addition to being a hands-on orchardist, he is also an author addressing the benefits of the organic way to a healthier life.
The speaker made it very clear that certain basic principals apply when setting out to establish an organic orchard and these must be determined and adopted to before other more sophisticated measures are undertaken. First the soil pH should be in the 6.3 to 6.6 range. This is done in the context of the cation balance based on the CEC number for a given soil type. The CEC number is the cation exchange capacity of the soil. Thus, the higher the number, the more cations such as calcium and magnesium can be held in the area from which the sample was taken. Increasing the organic matter in the soil will increase the CEC number, making essential nutrients more available. The very minimum level of organic matter in the soil should be 3 percent. Phosphorus and potash readings on a CEC test should be at least 200 pounds of each per acre. [Read more…]

Are you a people person or a cow person?

by Sally Colby
Mary Kraft is the owner, CFO and human resource director for a large western dairy farm, but what she knows about maintaining an effective work force applies to operations of all sizes. Kraft was raised on a 500-cow dairy, and now manages 5,000 cows with her husband Chris.
“You have to come up with what you want people to do before you can get them to do what it is you’re after,” said Kraft, who lives on the farm. “I can hear everything that goes on. I can tell when the cows weren’t fed on time, I can tell when the cows weren’t milked on time, and I can tell when there’s a fly problem.”
The family-owned and operated farm has grown to the point of requiring 75 full-time workers, but Kraft likes to say that the farm is a 75-family farm because all of the employees are treated as part of the family. Kraft says that when a tornado ripped through the farm in 2009, employees who had already worked a full shift didn’t think twice about working together to collect and care for 700 confused, wet calves that had been displaced from hutches during the storm. [Read more…]

Improving forage quality to increase milk or beef production

by Sanne Kure-Jensen
Better soils lead to better forage, improved animal health, higher milk quality and larger milk yield. “Soil fertility is the foundation to Integrated Livestock Cropping System [and] works to enhance the flow of nutrients within the biological system,” said Cynthia A. Daley, Ph.D., Organic Dairy Program Professor at California State University. Her goal is to improve pasture soil structure and biology. Daley’s research showed a clear economic benefit to amending soils for increased quality and quantity of milk in her dairy herd. She led a webinar hosted by eOrganic in late June. The webinar is posted at [Read more…]

NYCAMH to Celebrate 25 Years of Farm Safety Services at 2013 Empire Farm Days

resizedimage200155-NYCAMH-logoSeneca Falls, NY – The New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health will celebrate 25 years of farm safety programs with its new NYCAMH-to-Go Mobile Unit at the August 6-8, 2013 Empire Farm Days. To meet the needs of busy farmers, NYCAMH now offers a mobile health van staffed by health and safety professionals. It combines basic hearing, blood pressure, glucose, vision and other preliminary health screenings with NYCAMH occupational health programs. The NYCAMH-to-Go van is equipped to provide respiratory fit testing and direct sales of personal protective equipment and power takeoff shields. Among the safety and health activities at the 300-acre event at Rodman Lott and Son Farms in Seneca Falls, NY, are free skin cancer and blood pressure screenings, and first aid demonstrations with a trauma mannequin. NYCAMH staff will provide information on the New York State ROPS – Rollover Protective Structure – Rebate Program that offers up to $865 toward the cost of retrofitting a tractor. [Read more…]