Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Farm Scoop — September 2013

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
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The September 2013 issue of Farm Scoop is now available and includes information about So You Want to Farm in Maine? — A Short Course for Individuals Who Want a Profitable Farm Operation; a new online form to report livestock losses from predators; a hands-on workshop on Four Season Gardening; Lyme Disease statistics for Maine; SARE Partnership Grants for farmers and growers; tax tips if you’re starting a business, and more.

Farm Scoop is a free, farm-related, online newsletter. To receive notification of new issues via e-mail, contact KymNoelle Sposato at kymnoelle.sposato@maine.edu.

Form Online to Track Livestock Losses Due to Predators

Monday, August 19th, 2013
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University of Maine Cooperative Extension is partnering with USDA Wildlife Services to offer a predation event tracking form for farmers to report damage to livestock.

The predation event tracking form is online (umaine.edu/livestock/related-resources/report-predator-damage-of-livestock). USDA Wildlife Services will use the data to plan and implement effective control measures, and farmers and others will be able to receive annual reports of predator losses by county. The information could help farmers prevent losses through improved management and preventative measures.

The impetus for the predation event tracking form came from the Maine Sheep Breeders Association, which identified the need to help farmers report their losses.

Maine has nearly 20 million acres of forests and open space for wildlife to thrive in and these species play important roles in the ecosystem. Wildlife is wonderful, but some species can play a major factor in the success or failure of livestock operations in Maine. Farmers throughout the state typically lose poultry, sheep, goats, calves and other animals to both aerial and four-footed predators. These predators include coyote, weasel, bobcat, opossum, skunk, black bear, hawks and owls.

Predator pressure on livestock operations depends on several factors. Knowing the prevalence of predators — where they are and what they are attacking — can be key in minimizing losses.

For more information on predator management, contact USDA Wildlife Services in Maine, 207.629.5181.

Lichtenwalner, Brzozowski Talk about Bio-Security for Press Herald Blog

Friday, August 16th, 2013
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Richard Brzozowski, University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator; and Anne Lichtenwalner, assistant professor, UMaine Extension veterinarian and director of the University of Maine Animal Health Laboratory, spoke about the importance of practicing bio-security on homesteads for the latest post in the Portland Press Herald blog “The Root: Dispatches from Maine’s food sources.” The author of the blog also wrote she hosted her home and garden during the UMaine Extension’s 5th annual Backyard Locavore Day.

Coffin Talks about Pigs for BDN Article on Escaped Hog

Monday, August 5th, 2013
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The Bangor Daily News spoke with Donna Coffin, educator with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, about pig habits for an article on a 140-pound black guinea hog who escaped into the Aroostook woods on its way to a slaughterhouse. Coffin said pigs are omnivores and if they can find a dry shelter with access to water, they could survive the winter in the wild. She also said the pig could be more cautious of people the longer it is on its own, but could be enticed with bait.

Progressive Dairyman Publishes Cyr, Johnson Article on Harvesting Forage Safely

Monday, August 5th, 2013
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Canada-based Progressive Dairyman published an article on harvesting forage safely by University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Steven Johnson, crops specialist, and Dawna Cyr, farm safety project assistant. The article originally appeared in Progressive Forage Grower magazine.

Haymaking Weather Woes Continue…

Thursday, August 1st, 2013
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By Rick Kersbergen, Extension Educator, University of Maine, richard.kersbergen@maine.edu

hay bales in fieldThis summer has been a major challenge for hay producers in the Northeast. Trying to cobble together 3 or 4 days of dry weather has been nearly impossible! With some farms still doing first cut and others doing second, here are some tips.

What can you do to try and get your hay in the barn with these weather patterns?

  1. Mow at a higher height. While you will leave some feed in the field, the stubble you leave behind will improve air movement to dry your hay and keep it off the wet ground we seem to have everywhere! If you are worried about the loss of yield from doing this, be reminded that most of what you leave will be of little nutritional value to your animals as most of it will be highly lignified stalk material.
  2. Make sure you lay your hay out as wide as possible when you mow. Open the shields on the back of your mower or remove them completely so the hay is spread out as wide as possible. The number one factor in drying hay is exposure to sunlight. The more the grasses and legumes are exposed to sun, the quicker they will dry. More rapid drying also helps to preserve quality!
  3. Ted your hay soon after the initial drying of the surface of the hay you have mowed. Tedding helps to expose more of your crop to the sunlight as well as get your hay spread out even farther.
  4. If you are unsure about the dryness of your hay and weather forecasts don’t look good and you decide to bale, make sure you use a preservative on your hay. The most effective preservatives for dry hay are based on propionic acid. Look for preservatives that have the highest concentration of propionic acid and apply it at the correct concentration. Inoculants are best used for silage, not for dry hay. Hay should be 20% moisture or less. Baling at higher moisture contents, even with a preservative, can cause heating and molds in your hay.

Keep a watchful eye on you hay bales after baling. If heating starts to occur, be prepared to take action, especially if the hay is stored in a barn. Use a compost thermometer as a monitoring tool, as it allows you to get to the inside of the bale to take a temperature reading. Bale temperatures should stay as close to ambient temperature as possible, and not exceed 125 degrees F.

If temperatures start to exceed 125 degrees F and climb to nearly 150 degrees F, be prepared to take action. Examine and check the bales twice daily, and consider moving the bales out of the barn or stack to allow more air flow around heated bales. Once the temperatures reach 160 degrees F or higher, spontaneous combustion is possible and the hay bales should be moved and opened up to allow for cooling. If temperatures reach 175 to 190 degrees F you have reached a critical temperature where moving bales and exposing them to fresh air could cause the bales to combust. If your bales reach this temperature, you should call the fire department before you begin to move bales out of the barn as they may combust on exposure to fresh air.

(Temperature recommendations taken from PA Field Crop News, 7/30/13, M. Hall)

New UMaine Extension Resource: Grains & Oilseeds Website!

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
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Clean, dry grain, ready for storageSmall grains have long played an important role in Maine agriculture, and their value is increasing with new and local markets for a greater variety of grains. You will find information on growing small grains and oilseeds for feed, food, and energy at the new UMaine Extension Grains & Oilseeds website.

The Maine Grain and Oilseed Newsletter provides production and research information to Maine’s grain and oilseed producers. Information includes tips on production, fertility, marketing, pest management, and more.

Kersbergen Talks to Kennebec Journal about Hay Harvest

Thursday, July 25th, 2013
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Rick Kersbergen, University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator of sustainable dairy and forage systems, spoke with the Kennebec Journal about the low quality of this year’s hay harvest due to a rainy June. Kersbergen spoke about the loss of nutrients while farmers wait for the hay to dry. He said once the hay crop quality drops, the only remedy is a second crop of good quality hay.

Pasture Walk at Collyer Brook Farm in Gray this Saturday

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
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The Maine Grass Farmers Network (MGFN) and North Star Sheep Farm are hosting a pasture walk and fencing workshop on Saturday, July 13, 2013 beginning at 3:00 p.m., at Collyer Brook Farm in Gray, Maine.

The workshop will feature presentations by MGFN board member Ben Hartwell on fencing options, installation tips and design features for new and experienced grazers. The farm, at 17 Megquier Road in Gray, is owned and operated by Lisa and Phil Webster of Windham, Maine.

The Maine Grass Farmers Network collaborates with University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service; Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; and Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

For more information about MGFN or this pasture walk, or to request disability accommodations, contact Rick Kersbergen, richard.kersbergen@maine.edu or 207.342.5971. More information about North Star Sheep Farm is online.

Cooperative Extension Sheep-Related Courses Mentioned in Press Herald Blog

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
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The latest entry of the Portland Press Herald blog, “The Root: Dispatches from Maine’s food sources” focused on a sheep drive on a farm in Newcastle, Maine. The article listed the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s website as a source to view the sheep-related educational opportunities it offers.