University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the University of New Hampshire will host a pasture walk from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 10, at Balfour Farm in Pittsfield. The event will include presentations about organic dairy farms, pasture intakes and dairy cow diets.
The pasture walk is open to the public and lunch will be served to those who register before the event.
Balfour Farm, owned by Heather and Doug Donahue, is one of three farms participating in a federally funded research project led in Maine by Richard Kersbergen, UMaine Extension professor of sustainable dairy and forage systems. Kersbergen and others involved in the $2.9 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) research grant are investigating ways to help dairy farmers meet the demands of the organic milk market.
Kersbergen will discuss the project along with Andre Brito of the University of New Hampshire, where the research is based. Kersbergen will also moderate a session of other speakers, including Gary Anderson, a UMaine Extension animal and biosciences specialist, who will talk about testing services and learning opportunities for milk processors available through UMaine. Heather Donahue will speak about the rules and regulations of selling dairy products.
Rachel Gilker of the Vermont Pasture Network and Pasture Program at the University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture will discuss estimating dry matter yields and intakes in pastures and general grazing management, as well as ideas around direct marketing of milk products. Measuring pasture intakes and monitoring dairy cow diets are important parts of record keeping on organic dairy farms. UNH graduate Amy Beliveau will present her master’s thesis work, comparing the concentration of carotenes (precursors of Vitamin A) in cheese made from organic versus conventional Jersey cows.
The Donahues have owned Balfour Farm, located at 461 Webb Road, for two years. They originally shipped milk to a wholesale market and now direct-market all their milk through a variety of farm products they produce on the farm. For more information about and directions to the farm, go to balfourfarmdairy.com.
The pasture walk is funded by the USDA-NIFA-OREI planning grant No. 2010-01932.
To register for the July 10 event, contact the University of Maine Cooperative Extension office in Waldo County, 1-800-278-1426 in Maine or 207-342-5971. Participants can also register online. For more information, please contact Rick Kersbergen at Richard.Kersbergen@maine.edu