Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Carroll County Pasture Walk - April 4, 2008

On Friday, April 4th, the Carroll Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) along with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) held their first pasture walk of the season on the Cliff Miller Farm near Carrollton, Ohio. Approximately 28 participants attended from Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Jefferson, and Tuscarawas counties.
Cliff runs a herd of approximately 25 crossbred cattle. Not only did his cattle survive last summer’s drought, he also stockpiled forage to sustain his herd through the winter. Cliff chose not to make any hay on his farm last year; instead, he stockpiled those fields to use for winter feed. Normally when stockpiling forage, you would make your last cutting of hay or clip the field in August before fertilizing the field and letting it grow until the late fall or early winter. In November Cliff started to rotate the herd twice a day through his stockpiled fields. Those fields provided enough forage to last from November to April 5th, although Cliff did feed some hay when the weather prevented him from being on his stockpiled fields and when he was on vacation. Fortunately, Cliff had hay leftover from the year before, so he did not have to purchase any additional hay.
One limiting factor to Cliff’s operation is the distribution of water. Currently the cattle have to walk a long distance to reach the water source. This leads to poor nutrient distribution and increased erosion along the herd’s travel route to water. Through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Cliff will be installing pressurized pipeline and frost free hydrants to distribute water over the farm. He will also be installing a heavy use area to feed hay on when the weather is poor (i.e. it is too wet and grazing will tear up the pastures, there is a drought and allowing the animals to graze will hurt the forages further, or there is a crust of ice over the snow keeping the animals from grazing the stockpiled forage). Some of the water system will be installed this summer. Another pasture walk will be held on Cliff’s farm this fall to showcase the new water system and to look at Cliff’s stockpiled fields before he begins grazing them.

Other pasture walks planned for the area include:

May 21, 2008 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Larry and Alice Conkle Farm

9861 Stroup Rd. Hanoverton, OH 44423
Located east of Hanoverton in southern Columbiana County, this farm has been transitioning from a row crop system to a pasture system since 2002. Currently, the farm has 44 beef cows that started calving around April 1st. Many conservation practices have been installed including access roads, cross fencing, and pressurized water lines with portable water tanks.
Anyone interested in carpooling from the Carroll SWCD office to the Conkle Farm, please contact the Carroll SWCD at (330) 627-9852.

June 11, 2008 6 p.m.
Bill and Marty Detweiler Farm

2067 Bergholz Rd. NE, Mechanicstown, OH
Bill and Marty run a 40 cow grass-based dairy on a 12-24 hour rotation on their farm, located just south of Mechanicstown in eastern Carroll County. The Detweiler’s became Certified Organic producers about a year ago. They have worked with Carroll SWCD to plan access roads, division fences, and watering systems.