February 5, 2009

Contact: Betsy Hodge, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, 315-379-9192; Martha V. Pickard, Adirondack North Country Association, 518-891-6200

Livestock Grazing Meetings Set for Feb. 27-28 in Watertown, Westport & Madrid; Wisconsin and NY Grazing Specialists Will Speak

North Country farmers utilize grasslands to pasture livestock and lower production costs by taking advantage of a “free” feed source. To help producers increase their knowledge, the Adirondack North Country Association and Cornell Cooperative Extension are co-sponsoring two advanced grazing schools February 27th and 28th.

“There is a groundswell of producer and consumer interest in grass-fed, grass-finished livestock products,” says meeting organizer Betsy Hodge, livestock educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, Canton, NY. “We are pleased to bring Gene Schriefer to the North Country to share to his experience with the grass fattening of cattle and sheep.”

Grazing specialist Gene Schriefer, a sheep and beef producer from Dodgeville, Wisconsin, will be the featured speaker for the 7-9 program on Friday, February 27th at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County office in Watertown. That program will be shared by videolink to the Essex County Extension office in Westport, NY.

Schriefer says, “You can maximize the use of your cheapest feed source, whether it is pasture, hay or another source.”

New York State’s Grazing Land Management Specialist Darrell Emmick; and beef producers Roy and Renee Smith will join Schriefer on the agenda at the Madrid Community Center in St. Lawrence County on Saturday, February 28th from 10:30 am to 3 pm. The Saturday meeting includes a lunch of locally-grown beef.

Schriefer, who has also worked with dairy farmers on pasture design and watering systems, will speak about grazing research trials in Wisconsin and on paddock layout and design issues for managed grazing.

“I have addressed feed and labor expenses by grazing stock as long as possible and by improving the stocking rate on pasture. I stockpile fall pasture and graze crop aftermath and have tried annual forages such as turnips, kale, rape and corn,” Schriefer says. “I have also used a number of feeding, breeding and animal care techniques that I will share with North Country farmers at the February meetings.”

Schriefer, with his wife and son, has operated a sheep and beef enterprise for 19 years. They annually lamb more than 300 commercial white-faced ewes each spring. Most lambs are sold finished on the commodity market with a growing direct market for grass finished lambs. They sell their beef calves as heavy feeders with some grass finished at 18-20 months of age for the direct market trade.

Emmick, with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, will talk about grazing animal behavior and how livestock instinctively use grazing land. Emmick has worked for more than 25 years promoting grazing-based dairy production systems in the Northeastern U.S. He has a special interest in the foraging behavior of lactating dairy cows and the influence of supplemental concentrate feeds.

The Smiths will talk about the pasture amendments they have made at their Sugar Hill farm in DeKalb Junction to assure optimal animal health for their beef herd. The Smiths direct market and sell their beef by CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription.

Register for the Watertown program with Ron Kuck, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 315-788-8450; for the Westport program with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County at 518-962-4810 (pre-registration required for this session); and for the Madrid program with Betsy Hodge, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, 315-379-9192, or Martha Pickard, Adirondack North Country Association at 518-891-6200.

The fee for the Saturday program is $10 for the locally-grown beef lunch and program materials. The Friday evening program is free; those attending are asked to bring a dessert to share.

Resources for those interested in North Country grass-based agriculture and livestock production are found on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.  # # #