Articles & Notes

Articles | Notes

Ask questions, plan ahead for successful transition to organic dairy

  By Sarah Flack – published in the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service Broadcaster fall 2015 Dairy farmers making the transition to organic production today have some advantages over farmers who did so in the past. Organic farms now have a wider array of approved health care products, more sources of soil amendments and a greatly […]

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Managing a large organic dairy herd on pasture

(As published in Progressive Dairyman, 2015) At the Horizon Organic dairy farm outside Kennedyville, Maryland, 480 lactating cows are grazed in a carefully designed and managed pasture system. Providing this many cows with high-quality pasture requires good herd and pasture management skills. To effectively manage these needs and details, the farm has also carefully invested […]

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Improving Pasture Productivity and Quality

by Sarah Flack Have you noticed that some pastures “run out” during the grazing season so that cows have to be fed more in the barn? Have you ever wondered why some pastures become weedy, short or full of plants the animals won’t eat? Many of these problems are caused by poorly designed grazing systems, […]

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What Is Good Grazing Management?

The Benefits Of Good Pasture Management When done correctly, livestock grazing can create many benefits for the environment, plants, soils, animals and farm income.  Pasture plant quality and soil health can improve, animal welfare can benefit, feed costs can go down, animal performance can increase and farm finances can become more sustainable. Good grazing management […]

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What I’ve learned from farmers using zero-grain dairy rations

By Sarah Flack, Organic & Grass-Based Livestock Consultant. In the last few years, due to increased demand for 100% grass-fed milk, a number of dairy farms made a carefully planned transition to zero-grain rations. Other farms made the transition to zero-grain more rapidly, due to financial pressures caused by high grain costs and in some […]

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Fine Tuning Your Grazing System: Addressing the Weakest Link

by Heather Darby – UVM Extension, and Sarah Flack Are you capturing all the sunlight that lands on your farm?  Is sunlight being converted into pasture plants efficiently?  Are soils fertile and biologically active so that plant health and solar conversion is maximized?  Is the water cycling through the farm in the best possible way so that it is available […]

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How to Avoid Costly Mistakes in Pasture Management

By Sarah Flack, Organic Consultant; Dr. Cindy Daley, California State University Chico; and Kathy Soder, USDA’s Agricultural Research Station in Pennsylvania Added September 10, 2012. Well-managed pasture-based grazing systems are key to economic sustainability in the organic dairy industry. However, while well-managed pasture is an asset to a dairy farm, poorly managed pasture can create serious […]

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The Organic Dairy Farm: A Systems Approach

The success of an organic dairy farm depends on the ability to look at the farm as a whole, instead of a collection of individual parts.  Organic dairy farming requires a different approach, because it is not just conventional dairy farming without antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.  Establishing a sustainable organic dairy farm is far […]

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Spring grazing management for dairy farms

It is easy to get caught up in the busyness of spring with calving, fence fixing and getting ready for haying and planting, but spring is also a critical time for grazing management and planning ahead.  The rapidly growing spring pastures can be hard to keep up with as we start rotating the cows in, […]

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Planning Ahead For The Next Grazing Season

Winter is a great time to assess the previous years grazing season, and plan to make improvements in the grazing system for the next year.  It is tempting to read about the latest pasture fertilizers or pasture seed mixes advertised in the farm magazines, but there are less expensive ways to increase pasture quality and […]

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Growing and Feeding High Quality Forages and Grains

This winter, NOFA and UVM Extension (Heather Darby) organized workshops on strategies to keep feed costs low.  Farmer who helped teach these workshops included Guy Choiniere, Earl Fournier, Earl Ransom, Luke Rainville, Brent Beidler, Joe Hescock, Dan Tilley and Jack Lazor.  They shared their experiences with growing forages, corn silage, small grain balage and grain. […]

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CUTTING FEED COSTS WITH A HIGH FORAGE RATION

One of the best ways to reduce grain costs is to increase the amount of home grown forage in the ration.  To do this, cows need to increase their DMI (dry matter intake) of forages. However, the quality must be high in order to make a high forage ration work. Here are a few tips […]

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Calf and Youngstock Care on an Organic Dairy

This fall we’ve heard from several dairy farmers who have had calves with respiratory problems, and yearlings heifers coming in from pasture with poor condition and parasites.  A certified organic dairy farm can only use antibiotics, coccidiostats (a drug such as Deccox to treat coccidiosis), and most dewormers to save the life of an animal, […]

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PARASITE PREVENTION STRATEGIES

Internal parasites of sheep, goats and young dairy cattle can be a challenge for both organic and non-organic farms.   In the absence of chemical controls, keeping organic animals healthy and productive during the grazing season requires a good understanding of parasite-host  interactions, grazing management strategies and animal selection.  Worms and coccidia and other organisms are […]

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Integrating livestock into your gardens, orchards and back yard

Its nice to have a little butter with your kale, particularly if it comes from your own cow, and the soil the kale grew in was well cared for with composted cow manure.  Keeping a family cow or goat, a flock of chickens, a couple of sheep, pigs and even turkeys can bring many benefits […]

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Medicinal Herb Recipes for Livestock

Cows out grazing in a pasture are constantly eating plants that have some medicinal effects.  Dandelions are a diuretic, plantain has antimicrobial compounds in it, trefoil and alfalfa contain tannins and then there are all the plants growing in the hedgerows.  Many farmers also buy and use products made from medicinal herbs and while this […]

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Making Beet Kvass

Beet Kvass is a slightly effervescent lactic acid fermented beverage which you can easily make at home from beets, water and sea salt.  Beet kvass can be made from fresh harvested summer or fall beetroots, and in winter you can make it from beets stored in your root cellar.  If you don’t have a root […]

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Lactic vegetable fermentation introduction and recipes

Lacto-fermentation is a natural poetic food preservation method that enhances the life in the vegetables and the eater.  This method of natural pickling is done with no added water or vinegar. Studies have shown that regular consumption of lacto-fermented vegetables helps in reestablishment and maintenance of beneficial intestinal flora, aids immune function, and may contain […]

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