NOFA-NY Field Notes

NOFA-NY Blog

Our blog is a great way to stay current on organic farming, gardening, certification, policy, and community information and issues that we regularly share. We help you stay on top of everything that relates to technical and practical organic farming and gardening, timely and important legislative policies, field days, conferences, consumer issues, and more.

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Grass Fed Certification

This week's blog comes from Lisa Engelbert, NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC Certification Program Administrator and is about grass fed meat and dairy! 

What’s all the buzz about Grass Fed meat and milk products?  You mean cows and other ruminant animals should eat grass?  Really?  Yes, really!  Grass is a ruminant animals’ natural diet- it’s what they would eat in the wild, and it produces much healthier meat and dairy products than those produced in confinement operations.  Ruminant animals raised on grass harvest their own feed and spread their own manure – a very efficient system, just the way nature intended.  Ruminant animals have four stomachs, which allows them to process grass efficiently into the energy and protein they need to survive and thrive.  

Well, that must be pretty easy, right?  Not really - Grass Fed production is much more than just feeding grass.  There is a great deal of management required to maintain pastures and hay fields to produce the high-quality grass and forages necessary to maintain animal health and production.   There is a lot of management involved with grass fed animals, too.  Not just any animal will do well on grass.  Many of today’s dairy and beef animals have been bred to do well in confinement systems, but not necessarily to be good grazers.  It’s important to have the right genetics in your herd as you move to a 100% grass-based operation. 

So who’s monitoring grass fed farms?  NOFA-NY is!  We started offering a Grass Fed certification program to our organic producers in 2015, and we’re currently working with 38 grass fed certified  producers.  

It’s pretty cut and dry for grass fed meat animals.  They must be managed on 100% grass (and mother’s milk) from birth to qualify as grass fed meat.  There is no transition allowance for meat animals.  Dairy animals can transition to grass fed milk production by consuming only grass and grass-based feed for at least 90 days before producing grass fed milk.  Once the transition process starts, no more grain is allowed to be fed.

NOFA-NY is one of the organizations working with the American Grassfed Association to develop national grassfed standards.  The draft standards have been sent out for comment, and the goal is to have them finalized by the end of 2016.  If you’re interested in seeing the draft standards, please contact the certification office.

If you’re interested in learning more about Grass Fed dairy production, there are three fantastic Organic On Farm Field Days coming up:

August 31 –Join NOFA NY and Organic Valley in Madison County for Grass Based Milk Production:

 Yoder Farm

4841 Nelson Road

Cazenovia NY 13035

 

September 1 – Join NOFA NY and Organic Valley in Tioga County for Our Cows are on Grass!:

Moore Farm 2083

Moore Hill Road

Nichols, NY  13812

 

September 12 – Join NOFA NY and Fay Benson in Allegany County for Diversify Your Marketing: Managing a Grass Dairy & Meeting Consumer Needs:

Sunny Cove Farm

1444 Randolph Road

Alfred Station, NY  14803

 

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Re-Engineering an Engineer at a CSA

This post comes from our Operations Director, Nancy Apolito, as she shares her experience of a CSA newbie. 

Having been raised during the ‘70s in a traditional household, vegetables were considered a necessary part of the trifecta of meat, potatoes and a vegetable for every evening meal.  That being said – my distinct recollection of “vegetables” included many varieties in color and shape. But, they all had the same consistency, having been boiled on the stove until mushy. My other recollection deals with the “clean your plate” requirement. This resulted in many long dinners, some tears and the masterful negotiations of my brother in dealing with the number of said vegetables that were required for him to consume, the amount of milk that he could use to eat said vegetables, and the length of time the rest of the family had to wait until this process was successful and Eric ate his negotiated allotment. 

 

With this background and many years of adult living, I signed my family up for a CSA share at Mud Creek Farm. My background with folks at work as well as my true love of properly prepared vegetables had me excited yet a little nervous for this experience. My husband and I are trying to incorporate more vegetables into our diet and we agreed that this would require us to do so.  So as information regarding proper protocols, and what and where to pick started hitting my inbox, my level of anticipation increased for my first time at the farm with my husband.  Did I mention that my husband is an engineer?

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Good Pasture Techniques = Good Milk Production

Thank you to Anna Williams, an Organic Valley farmer, for this blog on good pasture techniques. Anna's farm is 3 Sisters' Farm in Truxton, NY.

Shade, water, paddock size, traveling time, pest control, pasture quality, etc. These are all factors to making your cow’s summer either pleasant or painful. The ideal temperature for a dairy cow is between 60 to 70 degrees. Let face it, our summers get much higher than 70F, and a cow can’t strip down into a bikini and jump in the pool to keep cool and happy. The top three techniques to help your cows keep up with their good milk production are: paddock size, water, and pest control.

The size of a paddock depends on many variables: number of animals, grass height, weather conditions, paddock rest period. The paddock has to support every animal that is on it with feed (Dry Matter), space for them to lay down, and leave enough grass behind for it to grow back. Many pasture techniques are tied into the paddock size. The best rule of thumb? The taller the grass the less space, and the shorter the grass the more space is required for the animals.

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What's New at NOFA-NY

Here at NOFA-NY, we are always looking for new ways to serve our members, as well as to bring farmer and consumer together. That’s why we have an exciting new membership benefit: an online events calendar

 We often get requests from our members to publicize events for their farms and organizations. Well, now we can! By simply e-mailing event details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., members will know that their event will be viewable to nofany.org’s large readership. 

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