Grazette Newsletter - April 2012
April 2012 Edition
Last month we noted that March usually “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”, and that it would be interesting to see if the weather pattern changed. When May-like weather shows up in the middle of March, and trees start to bud and grass begins to grow, that is a change! However, the question was if it would change to more winter-like conditions, which we did not see. There are some farms that have already turned animals out on pasture, although it’s probably not a major portion of their diet yet. If you have turned out, or are considering it, please read the pasture management tips below for some precautionary information.
New! We've added some of our past newsletters at the end of this page.
Please continue to send in notices of pasture walks and workshops by three days prior to the end of each month. The Grazette is distributed monthly.
Upcoming Pasture Workshops and Related Events
Long Island Small Farm Summit
When: Saturday, April 14th – 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
Where: Hofstra University, Hempstead (Nassau County)
Join us for a full day of interactive panels, educational presentations, workshops, exhibits, entertainment, and an opportunity to meet like-minded folks interested in growing, eating and supporting a vibrant local agricultural community. Keynote speakers are urban farming pioneer Will Allen and renegade lunch lady chef Ann Cooper. There will be 19 panel discussions including topics such as building a robust local food system, innovative farming techniques, and beginner farmer education and business planning. Also 20 experiential workshops will be offered including seed saving, biodynamics, and composting, plus much more. For information visit the Small Farm Summit Web site, or contact North Shore Land Alliance at 516-626-0908.
Jefferson/Lewis County Grazer’s Discussion Group
When: Wednesday, April 18th - 11:00AM to 2:00PM
Where: Grace Episcopal Church, Copenhagen
This and all get-togethers are open to any dairy grazers. At least three pasture walks and discussion are planned throughout the spring, summer and fall in Jefferson and Lewis Counties. We ask you to bring your topics for discussion and locations for walks to this meeting. Discussion on identified items we would like to focus on throughout the grazing season include developing a pasture plan and running the farm through Soil and Water Conservation District Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) worksheets, using pasture measurement to improve management and the rising plate meter to estimate pounds of dry matter, and the Dairy Profit Monitor and calculating net milk income over feed costs per cow, tracking performance of pasture program and utilizing it to improve the quality of pasture management decisions.
Other areas of interest include: Alternative crops to graze; Seasonal grazing; Genetics and crossbreeding; Recover overgrown/forested pastures; Facilities/laneways; Fly control. The group will be facilitated by Ron Kuck, Cornell cooperative Extension (CCE), Jefferson County and Levi Rudd, Jefferson County SWCD. There is no fee for this meeting and lunch will be provided, the only thing that is asked is that you call in with reservations to make sure we have enough seating by April 16, 2012. Please direct all calls to Ron Kuck 315-788-8450 or Ron's email. This discussion group is sponsored by the following groups: Pro-Dairy-Cornell University, Jefferson and Lewis County Soil and Water Conservation District, Jefferson and Lewis County Cooperative Extension, and Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA).
Groundswell’s Sustainable Farming Certificate Program
When: April 18th through November 14th
Where: Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming, Ithaca (Tompkins County) - Now accepting applications
This spring the full-season training program for aspiring and beginning farmers and market gardeners will again be offered. The Sustainable Farming Certificate Program provides 124 hours of classroom training, hands-on workshops, farm visits, and supervised work experience on sustainable farms. Trainees can choose to concentrate their studies on the management of vegetables and fruits, livestock and poultry, or pursue a diversified curriculum. Each trainee will have an individualized Learning Contract, and will be evaluated on the basis of that contract before being awarded Groundswell's Sustainable Farming Certificate. Instruction will be provided by experienced farmer mentors, as well as subject matter experts from our partner institutions such as Cornell University, USDA, and Cornell Cooperative Extension. Trainees who complete 100 hours of training or more are eligible to receive Groundswell's Sustainable Farming Certificate.
Groundswell is committed to the vision of a regionally self-reliant food system that provides good food and economic opportunities for everyone. The program seeks to engage trainees from diverse cultural, racial, and economic backgrounds to participate in a supportive, trainee-driven learning environment. People of color, new immigrant and limited resource trainees are especially encouraged to apply. Tuition for the Sustainable Farming Certificate Program is on a sliding scale and ranges from $125 to $800, with substantial support offered to people of color, new immigrant and limited-resource trainees. Applications for the Sustainable Farming Certificate Program are now online. Visit the Groundswell Web site to learn more and apply today.
5th National Conference on Grazing Lands
When: December 9th to 12th
Where: Orlando, Florida
The conference objective is “To Heighten Awareness of the Economic and Environmental Benefits of Grazing Lands”. The target audience includes producers, academics, consumers, government agency officials, conservationists, environmentalists, urban based resource interests, grazing land managers, landowners, and others interested in effective natural resources management.
Call for papers: The conference sponsors are accepting abstracts for both oral and poster papers until May 1st in the following categories: issues concerning the agricultural-urban interface; successful “cutting edge” management technologies for grazing practices; public policy implications of grazing; and optimization of grazing land health for environmental and social benefits. More information is available at the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Web site.
Pasture Management Tips
Spring Time Can Be a Hazardous Time for Your Grazing Livestock
This year spring has been unusually warm and many plants are already starting to grow. The weather can turn cold again though, and the risk of frost is still a concern. This is a particular concern when trees and shrubs start to grow leaves and then a heavy frost causes them to wilt. Livestock producers need to be cautious of this when livestock are first starting to graze pastures that have trees along the edges or inside the pastures. The most common trees of concern are; Maples, All Cherry species, Black locust and Oak trees. The following is a list of toxins contained in each tree species.
Maple trees (Acer rubrum)
The toxin in Maples is Gallic acid, this causes acute hemolysis (hemolytic anemia). Evidence suggests that this acid is responsible for the Red Blood Cell (RBC) lysis, which is the red blood cells splitting, releasing the hemoglobin not allowing the animals blood to clot. The toxicity results from the ingestion of fresh, wilted and dried leaves are toxic and ingestion of as little as 0.3 percent of the body weight as leaves is toxic to horses.
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
The toxin in Black Cherry is prussic acid, a form of cyanide. Anxiety, difficult breathing, staggering, convulsions, collapse and death may be sudden. The toxicity results from damaged or wilted leaves pose the greatest risk; all parts are potentially toxic.
Black Locust (Robinia pseudo –acaia)
The toxins in Black Locust are the protein robin, the glycoside robitin and the alkaloid robinine. These toxins affect the gastrointestinal tract as well as the nervous system. Depression, poor appetite, weakness, paralysis, abdominal pain, diarrhea and abnormal heartbeat cause by his toxin. Death is possible. The toxicity results from ingestion of leaves, especially wilted leaves, young shoots, pods, seeds and inner bark.
Oaks (Quercus spp)
The toxins in Oak are called gallotoxins. They are converted in the body to tannic acid, gallic acid and pyrogallol, all of which are very toxic to the kidney. Lesions include peri-renal edema, nephrosis, gastroenteritis, anorexia, rumen stasis, constipation, followed by dark tarry diarrhea, dry muzzle, frequent urination, rapid weak pulse. Death can result from ingestion of this species of tree. The leaves when young or wilted and swollen or sprouting acorns are the parts of the plant that are most toxic. Oak is most dangerous early in the spring when the leaves and buds are the highest in toxicity and there is little else to eat. Autumn is another at-risk period, when acorns and leaves fall and better forage dies.
Livestock should avoid grazing pastures with these tree species during the early spring and again in late fall when there is a chance of the leaves wilting due to frost.
Submitted by Megan Weidner, Morrisville State College Grazing Intern with USDA-NRCS
Sheep and Goat Parasite Warning
In a study with goat farmers in New York and Pennsylvania in 2008, it appeared that barber pole worm larvae that “hibernate” inside sheep and goats over the winter stop “hibernating” by early March and turn into adults laying viable eggs. Luckily for us in most years the ground is still pretty cold in March and we do not get much hatching of these eggs because they need temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit and up to start to hatch and can’t survive extremely cold temperatures. However, when temperatures get into the upper 70’s you get lots of hatching within three to five days.
Unfortunately, this year has not been real normal and your winter barnyards and pastures may be far more worm infected than normal. Given the weather the last couple of weeks we probably have far more infectious barber pole worm larva in our winter pastures and barnyards then we do in normal years. Keep in mind that most of our other stomach and intestinal worms of sheep and goats overwinter outside fairly successfully unless the wind chills have been subzero for an extended period of time with little or no snow cover. Although most of us have not had a lot of snow this year we sure have not had much in the way of subzero wind chills.
Assuming that your winter barnyards are relatively free of worms is probably not a good assumption right now. You may want to move them out of these areas if enough grass is showing up in them that your animals are starting to graze in them. Keep an eye on the FAMACHA scores of your sheep and goats and on their body condition if you still have them out on your winter areas and plan to rest those winter paddocks and pastures for quite a while before you graze them this growing season. Talk with your vets and extension educators about your parasite control plan for this year. Remember late pregnancy and lactating females and their growing offspring will be most susceptible.
Written by Tatiana Stanton, Small Ruminant Extension Specialist, Cornell University. From the Small Ruminant Marketing listserve.
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Brought to you by the New York State Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative. The Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative is a grass-roots coalition of producers, agricultural industry, and conservation groups with an interest in the sound conservation of private grazing lands. The goal of this newsletter is to increase awareness of grazing events around New York and in neighboring states, as well as to provide information that is useful on the farm. For more information on GLCI, check out the national GLCI Web site. Information on the NYS GLCI can be obtained from GLCI Coordinator Karen Hoffman.
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