Opportunities for Sustained Profits

January 8 conference in Geneva, NY, explores dairy, hog, horse and hort options. Compiled by staff

Published on: Dec 20, 2004

Cornell Cooperative Extension will host a low-input sustainable farming conference on Jan. 8 at the NYS Experimentation Station in Geneva. Here’s a sample of what’s on the program from Bill Henning, regional Extension specialist.

Grazing on dairy profits

Grazing remains a management tool that’s well suited for smaller dairy farms. While Cornell's Dairy Farm Business Summary reports that graziers average 11% less milk production than dairies using confinement systems, graziers averaged 12% higher net returns. That's just the average; some do much better.

  • Discover little things about pasture management and grazing that give you a leg up. There’s much you can do to minimize summer slump, extend fall grazing, and allow for earlier spring starts while enhancing animal performance.
  • A grazier panel will discuss heifer grazing. Some have experienced the equivalent of $5 a hundredweight increased revenue just from the heifer sales that result from their grazing program.
  • The organic experiences of Jim Gardiner include making 130 pounds of milk with pasture, minerals and four pounds of molasses. Learn how he encourages the cow's natural immune system to maintain a healthy cow.

Packing in pork premiums

  • The National Pork Board estimates that 40 to 80% of today's pork consumers would rather eat pork that’s raised more naturally. In that vain, gourmet chefs in 40 states are buying pork from Niman Ranch.
  • Paul Willis, Iowa hog farmer and general manager of Niman Ranch Pork, will share the details of the Niman Marketing Program. Learn what it takes to receive a guaranteed floor price on hogs they accept plus a substantial premium over market.
  • Eliza Maclean grows organic vegetables along with hogs for Niman in North Carolina. Learn how her 18 sows and direct market produce compliment each another.
  • Dave Stender, Iowa State Extension swine specialist, will cover natural pork production, from maintaining herd health and productivity to the economics.

Low-input horticulture

Home gardens, greenhouses and orchards have long been a source of nutritious food for the farm family – and others. That’s the focus of three horticultural sessions:

  • David Schlabach of Medina, N.Y., will share the basics for getting started in family orcharding, and expand on the theme of home-grown food stress the value of eating local.
  • James Weaver of Kutztown, Pa., will share about growing more than 200 varieties of heirloom tomatoes on his family farm. He practices seed saving and is a creative marketer with direct, retail and festival channels. James strives to manage this diverse crop in a challenging low-to-no spray program.
  • Gracia Schlabach grows potted herbs such as mint, lavender and oregano in her greenhouse, with a mail order customer base taking the majority of her product. Gracia is an author and speaker who enjoys sharing her production methods and the many wonderful uses of garden herbs in food and natural medicine.

Hitch up the horses

Horse-powered farming is still economically competitive. Randy James, an Ohio State University agronomist has completed a study among Amish farms in Geauga County, Ohio. Randy will share those findings as well as a simple system for nutrient management planning. All you need is a calendar.

Pre-registration must be received before January 3. For more information and registration materials, call Cornell Cooperative Extension of Yates County, (315) 536-5123. Or e-mail Bill Henning at wrh6@cornell.edu