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Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care April 2010

Hi Folks,

With the new grazing season around the corner along with the new national law requiring organic livestock to consume at least 30% dry matter from well managed pastures during the grazing season, it would do well to look at this issue a little more closely. Last month’s newsletter basically condensed the new regulatory wording into two sides of a page. This month I’d like to look at how to achieve what the new regulation requires.

 Without doubt, the best publication for grazing in the northeast is the booklet “Prescribed Grazing and Feeding Management for Lactating Dairy Cows”. The authors are Karen Hoffman, Robert DeClue, and Darrell Emmick. It has the most useful and practical information for farmers to use that is specific about “how to” graze of any publication I have ever read, in about 60 pages. It was published by the New York State Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative in Cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in January 2000. Free copies are available by contacting Karen Hoffman at 607-334-4632, ext 116 or Darrell Emmick at 607-758-3236, ext 117. The entire booklet in pdf can be downloaded at
 ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/GLTI/technical/publications/cow-feeding-mgt.pdf
Another great website to learn lots about grazing is http://www.glti.nrcs.usda.gov/ 

 The booklet covers areas such as: grazing behavior, palatability and preference, diet selection, maximizing the economic benefits of using pasture, grazing management strategies for lactating dairy cows, pasture fertility, balancing forage supply with livestock demand, fencing/watering/laneways/paddock shape and size, feeding management for lactating dairy cows, formulating rations, supplementation strategy, animal health issues and example rations. It is a complete, one stop resource for both new and experienced grazing farmer. This booklet doesn’t focus on the 30% dry matter topic but does help you to understand your pasture management much better than you probably do now.

 A handy tip I learned from a grazing specialist from Nova Scotia Canada is probably quite true: the first day the cows are in a paddock it is their dining room, the second day in the same paddock it becomes their living room and by the third day it is their bathroom. Keeping this in mind will help remind you that your pasture land is a precious resource which can either be very profitable or hinder your cows’ health and production.

 The rest of this newsletter is extracted directly from the Prescribed Grazing and Feeding Management booklet. Shown are just some highlights to hopefully peak your interest in getting the publication. Remember that this grazing season coming up should be looked at as rough run to see how you can comply with the new organic grazing rules. It’s April now, so no need to wait to get started in thinking in new ways about the manner in which you manage and record your pasture usage. I hope you find this helpful and enjoyable. I am eager to help you if you’d like, as grazing has been part of my life with cows for the last 20+ years.    Happy Grazing!

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