Grazette Newsletter - June 2013
After last year’s drought, it seems like we have had more than enough rain in the last few weeks. Hopefully there aren’t many people singing “rain, rain go away, come again another day” that will jinx it and result in drought conditions again this summer! The spring flush of grass may be challenging for livestock and lawnmowers, but it’s better for the livestock to have more than enough than not enough. Here’s hoping as we move through the month of June that the rain continues, although perhaps with a little more time between the showers.
(Please note events listed are primarily held in New York State, unless indicated otherwise)
Upcoming Pasture Workshops and Related Events
Pasture Grazing For Profit
When: Wednesday, June 5th – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Where: USDA Service Center, Ghent and Grazin’ Angus Acres (Columbia County)
Mick Bessire, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Columbia and Greene Counties will be discussing “Costs and Potential Returns of Grazing on Pasture”, followed by Karen Hoffman, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service on “Nutritional Attributes of Well-Managed Pastures”. Laura Sagar, Columbia County Soil and Water Conservation District and Jim Unser, USDA Natural Resources Conservation District will then give an overview of programs and funding available through SWCD and USDA NRCS.
After lunch, we will travel to Grazin’ Angus Acres, to visit a “premier” grass-based livestock operation in Columbia County, featuring a purebred Angus cow-calf breeding herd, along with the production and marketing of grass-finished beef, pastured chicken and eggs, and meadow-raised pork. The Gibson and Stark families will host our group on a pasture-walk and tour of their farm. To register, please contact Eileen at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties at 518-622-9820. If you plan to stay for lunch, the cost is $10 per person. Please bring payment the day of the workshop.
Tapping into Biological Horsepower to Improve Soil Health Webinar
When: Monday, June 10th – 11:00 am to noon
Participate in this webinar to learn about managing the biological herd under the soil surface to build soil health. As the coordinator/field representative for the North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition, and a rancher, conservationist, and Certified Educator of Holistic Management, Joshua Dukart will share experiences and observations from his family's ranch and other ranches he has the opportunity to work with. By focusing on soil health, great ecological and financial strides have been made on these ranches. This webinar is sponsored by the USDA NRCS Central National Technology Support Center. For information on how to register and participate in the webinar, visit the Science and Technology Training Library web site.
One-Day Workshop With Ian Mitchell-Innes
When: Wednesday, June 12th – 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Where: Brothers Ridge Farm, Drew Lewis, 1446 Howard Hill Road, Newark Valley (Tioga County)
Brothers Ridge is a 350 acre farm, owned and operated by Drew Lewis. He finishes 60 yearlings for grass fed beef annually and maintains a flock of 400 ewes for lamb production. He has been rotational grazing for eight years and is in his second year of mob grazing. Lunch will be provided. The event will be limited to 30 farmers at a cost of $80 per person. Please RSVP to Brian Reaser at 607-687-3553 or send an e-mail . All money will be collected at the door and must be cash or check.
Holistic High-Intensity Grazing & Genetics Workshop with Ian Mitchell-Innes and Gearld Fry
When: Wednesday, June 12th to Friday, June 14th
Where: Herondale Farm, 90 Wiltsie Bridge Road, Ancramdale (Columbia County)
Learn techniques to put you on the path to profit, including mob grazing, holistic financial management, and guiding principals for 100 percent grassfed genetics. Other topics include fencing, herding, and watering, as well as how genetics, selection, and management are the guiding principles used to build herds of cattle that can produce superior quality meat. Cost is $450 for three days, with refreshments and lunch included. For more information or registration, send an e-mail or call 518-329-3769
Oneida County Pasture Walk
When: Monday, June 17th – 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Where: Atwell Farm, 9628 Prospect Road, Remsen
This pasture walk is open to all area grazing dairies. Nancy Glazier, Small Farms Specialist with the NW New York Dairy, Livestock and Crops Team will be the guest speaker. Lunch will be provided and there is no charge to attend, but RSVP is required for planning lunch – please call 315-736-3394 extension 132 or send an e-mail.
Raising Grazers with Grain-Fed Animals
When: Saturday, June 22nd – 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Where: Simple Gifts Farm, 1089 N. Pleasant Street, North Amherst, Massachusetts
This workshop helps producers plan how to integrate multiple livestock species into a whole farm system. While the primary focus of this farm is vegetable production, livestock make crucial contributions to the whole of the farm. This workshop will cover scale thresholds that make animal operations an appropriate size relative to labor input, market potential, and husbandry needs. Each species will be considered for its needs, its economic value, as well as its contribution to overall farm functioning. The presentation focuses on synergies between grazing animals (cattle and sheep) and grain-fed animals (chickens and pigs), using annual cover crops as forage, creating a farm budget, managing production, and scheduling slaughter dates. Marketing discussion will present combined approach to CSA, direct retail, farmers’ market, and restaurants. The instructor, Dave Tepfer, is co-owner of Simple Gifts Farm where he manages the livestock using a pasture-based system for 15 beefers, 30 sheep, 50 pigs, and 200 laying hens. Pre-registration is required unless arranged with the organizer, Ben Grosscup. You can e-mail Ben or call him at 413-658-5374. Sponsored by NOFA/Massachusetts as part of a series on raising animals.
Introduction to Silvopasture for Jefferson and Lewis Counties
When: Wednesday, June 26th – 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Where: Begins at Mazy Acres Farm, Jim Young, Miller Road, Antwerp in the morning and continues at Beartown Farms, Gene LaMothe, Antwerp after lunch
Many have expressed interest in silvopasturing and why not? Silvopasturing is well-suited for our northern New York landscape and livestock. Mazy Acres Farm, which is an organic dairy with registered Holsteins and a new bedded pack barn with a flat parlor will host the morning session until noon, and then lunch is on your own with water and snacks provided.
At 1:00 pm we’ll visit Beartown Farms where they graze beef and sheep, but will meet on Pulpit Rock Road where instructor Joseph Orefice, owner/operator of North Branch Farm, Saranac, New York and Assistant Professor, Paul Smith’s College, NRESS Student, University of New Hampshire will walk us through former dairy farm turned woodland. It was last pastured 50 years ago. We will also visit a woodlot that was last planted to corn 20 years ago. The cost is $10 per farm or family. You can e-mail Ron Kuck, CCE of Jefferson County or call 315-788-8450. Early sign up is requested. Future pasture walks are tentatively scheduled for the fourth Wednesday of every month through September.
Regional Integrated Pest Management Meeting
When: Thursday, July 11th – 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Where: Sheffer’s Grassland Dairy, 74 Sheffer Road, Hoosick Falls (Rensselaer County)
Flies on your livestock on pasture? Who are the usual summer time pest species and what can you do about them? From this field meeting you will learn to correctly identify the most important fly pests affecting livestock on pasture in the northeast. You will also learn techniques to determine if fly populations are at numbers that can cause economic injury. Learn the options available for controlling fly pests affecting animals on pasture including the role of dung beetles, use of effective biting fly catching traps suitable for use on pasture, and what you should know about making insecticide use decisions. There is no cost for the meeting but R.S.V.P. is appreciated. For more information or to register, please e-mail Marcie Vohnoutka or call 518-272-4210.
Pasture Soil Health News
So, what is “Soil Health”, really? Is it just some fad that everybody is talking about, or is there more to it? How do I know if my soils are healthy or not? What should I do to make improvements?
If you dig a little, you’ll learn a lot, especially in your pastures. NRCS has some great resource materials on their web site to help you learn more about the fundamentals of soil ecology and what you can do to build soil health on your farm. Visit the “Dig a Little, Learn a Lot” resource page and read through some of the fact sheets there!
Pasture Management Tips
Two popular questions this spring have been, “how should I be grazing when it’s so wet like this, and not damage my pastures” and “is there anything cheaper than corn to feed as an energy supplement?” These were popular questiosn in the spring of 2011 as well, so we’re offering up a repeat in case you forgot the answers since then!
The quick answer to the first one is that you should either shorten your residency period on any wet paddocks, or reduce the stocking rate on those paddocks. In other words, if your animals are there for less time, there is less time for them to do a lot of damage. Fewer animals have the same effect if you can’t shorten how much time they are in a paddock, because there’s less hoof action. A little bit of “pugging” isn’t bad for a pasture, as it allows new plants to fill in the areas that get dug up. However, turning a pasture into a complete mud hole isn’t a good idea. If you can’t use either strategy, you may want to keep the animals off those wet pasture altogether.
Barley, oats, molasses, wheat byproducts, beet pulp, citrus pulp, hominy, triticale or spelt grain….there are a lot of alternatives to corn for energy. Many of them have slightly lower energy content than corn, so you might not be able to substitute them on a one to one ratio. Check prices and push the pencil on whether or not these alternatives are a good buy – of course, with increased demand for them, the prices are moving upwards as well. If you’re thinking about reducing feeding rates, recognize that you will also give up some production, either milk or meat. This is another pencil-pushing exercise you need to go through to be sure that the production loss won’t cost you more than what you save on grain costs.
Want to submit an event? Interested in subscribing? Simply send an e-mail to Karen Hoffman with your event information, or with the subject line of "subscribe" to be added to the distribution list! If submitting an event listing, please submit it three days before the end of the month prior to the date scheduled, as this newsletter will only be generated at the beginning of the month. Not interested? If we've sent this to you, and you're not interested in receiving it again, also send an email to the above address with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.
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 at the email address above.