UTICA, NY – Ohio dairyman Andrew Coblentz shared his passion for farming within a grass-based context. “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow,” said the guest speaker. His message resonated well with the 150 farmers who attended this sixth annual 100% grass-fed dairy centric grazing conference.
Coblentz spoke extensively about his many layers of learning within an organic dairy context. He shared his story of milking 65 predominately Montbéliarde cows on rotational pastures and milking once a day for 11 years – “giving my neighbors lots to talk about.” He described how he grazes a nurse cow herd to feed his dairy replacements, manages a bedding pack hoop barn, improves the farm’s soil health which averages 7.3% organic matter and instilled the practice of good recordkeeping on his way to a net profit of $1,271/cow.
He entertained the farmers with many practical fixes he tried around the farmstead and waxed poetic on the virtue of having farm goals, open communication and involving his six children in decision-making as well as having farm enterprises. He also presented a meaningful glimpse of providing foster care to children on the farm with his wife, Mary Ellen, concluding that “everyone is lovable.”
Minnesota-based Will Winter, DVM, a holistic livestock consultant, author and health historian presented an entertaining marathon of topics ranging from achieving high-Brix forages to visualizing healthy livestock to gaining health from the hedgerows and describing his perspectives on and in mitigating electromagnetic radiation, 5G and stray voltage concerns. The workman also presented an evening oration on keeping farm families healthy and summarized which supplements to take to prevent or treat the most common health problems. (Can you say apple cider vinegar?) He can be found at WillWinter.com.
Michael McCaffrey from Homer, NY, who works as an approved aAa® Weeks analyzer, rounded out the program with a comprehensive look at the history of aAa in making the best mating decisions on grazing farms and its logical component of form and function in today’s dairy cows.
A robust trade show and a home-cooked local meal contributed to some gratifying networking opportunities for farmers as they prepare for spring work.
To learn more about these types of educational efforts within Central New York, contact organizer Melvin Zook at 518.709.6335.
This year’s educational grazing conference was sponsored by NOFA-NY, Maple Hill Organic, Upstate-Niagara Cooperative and Organic Valley Cooperative. Vendors included Farm Credit East, Natural Way Minerals, King’s AgriSeeds, Mast Farm Supply, NFO, Sea-90, Sam Yoder, Zook Molasses Company, Nutra-Glo, Woodsview Animal Health, Agri-Dynamics, Timeless Fence System, Horst Ag Supply, Country Folks/Lee Newspapers and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition.
by Troy Bishopp