Northeast Pasture Research and Extension Consortium Annual Meeting, Latham, NY, January 25-25, 2012

On the evening of January 25, the Producer Showcase session was held. Mr. Bob Richardson, owner of Rocky Acres Farm, presented his dairy farm operation in a presentation called Greening of Rocky Acres. The farm is in central Massachusetts on a high ridge. His herd is made up of black and red Holsteins and Brown Swiss. Dry large round bales are stored in a shed. A \$10,000 shed pays for itself in 10 years as dry matter loss from a round bale can cost \$5 in lost feed. Forage samples are taken to check magnesium and calcium levels to balance them in the ration fed to the cows. Protein runs about 14% on pastures. Corn meal is used to keep milk urea nitrogen levels in the 12-15 range.

When the dairy cows are on pasture 15 pounds of grain per cow per day or less is fed along with some dry hay. The pastures tend have a good white clover content with some red clover. The grass is primarily orchardgrass. Cows are turned into a paddock when the forage is 8 inches tall. Bedstraw is present in the pastures, but the cows will eat it when it is young. The seasonal cowherd is calved in March and April to fit lactation curve to the growth curve of the pasture forages. The calf pasture is kept close to the farm house because coyote predation is a big danger. Wild turkeys follow calves and cows on pasture to work on the dung pats for food. Electric fences are solar powered. Plastic pipelines are used to convey water to waterers in each paddock. Water is pumped from 2 ponds. Multiflora rose is a problem. It is rotary mowed and spot sprayed with an herbicide. Bob has used the Grassland Reserve Program of NRCS to build perimeter fences and watering systems. He also is using that program to reclaim stony, brushy land and turn it into pasture. Bob and Martha bottle raw milk and sell it by the half gallon or gallon. They are licensed by Massachusetts to do so. They were the eighth farm in the State to be licensed. The bottled raw milk is sold within 24 hours of being produced.

Bob was followed by Mr. Morgan Hartman, owner of Black Queen Angus Farm in eastern Renssellaer County, NY. Morgan produces 100 percent grass-fed beef and also sells Angus breeding stock. Grass-fed steers are slaughtered at 22 months of age with good marbling but yield a smaller cut than grain-fed animals. Cows needed for the grass-fed markets are ones of moderate size with good disposition and easy fleshing. They also should have the volume and capacity to eat pasture forages, well-formed udders and teats, be structurally sound, and long-lived. This cow can overwinter on stockpiled forage, hay, and snow most winters, losing up to 200 pounds of weight and still produce a calf and rebreed. Morgan is a believer in line breeding to get a good herd of cattle for producing grass-fed beef. Line breeding is done by breeding the same bull to daughter and granddaughter in a closed herd. 12.5% in-breeding is ideal. Further than that and in-bred regression begins taking place. The Wye Angus herd in Maryland is a closed herd with in-breeding at 11.5%. The Trask Polled Hereford herd at Clemson University is intensely line-bred and their steers range from high choice to prime on grass only.