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Project History

Northeast SARE Connecticut Professional Development Projects


Health Care Practices for Our Food Animals

2014-2017

Close to 30 million pounds of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used in animal agriculture (80% of all antibiotics sold).  The 2014 PDP project assessment questionnaire surveyed 110 agricultural service providers, veterinarians, and university educators. Eighty-four percent (84%) of respondents stated that agricultural service providers and farmers need education about the use of drugs/antibiotics in food animal production.
 
The grant creates a Health Care Practices for our Food Animals Working Group that will design educational programs over the next three years for agricultural service providers to assist farmers with information and assistance from veterinary, university, and regulatory professionals to address the following key topics:
 

  • Insuring adequate drug protocols to treat sick animals
  • Antibiotic use and resistance
  • Identify food animal production systems that prevent disease and  reduce the need for antibiotics
  • FDA and USDA regulations for uses of drugs/antibiotics/hormones:

 


Grass-Fed All Year Long

2011–2014


Increased year-round production of grass-fed meat in Southern New England can help alleviate, if not eliminate, the problems of limited USDA infrastructure for slaughter and processing. While many farmers enjoy the seasonality of their current operations, others would like the opportunity to even out their income flow by slaughtering year-round. Workshops focus on strategies for year-round production, including: breed selection, forage options and use of baleage, rotational grazing, farmstead and facility design and maintenance, meat cutting and fabrication.

Strategies for Expanding Year-round Production of Local, Grass-fed Meat


Meat Cutting Workshop at Adams 2012
 

From 2008 to 2011 the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island SARE PDP plan focused on increasing production of local meat in the region. The tri-state project worked to improve livestock producers' and agricultural service providers' knowledge and skills in the areas of forages and grazing, studied the relationship between local meat production and animal processing, and created a strategic plan to increase the production and availability of local meats.
After study and investigation of the farmers' expressed problem of a slaughter and processing infrastructure shortage, the project concluded that at least part of the problem is seasonal capacity rather than overall capacity. One recommendation of the strategic plan was to address some processing capacity shortages by promoting year round breeding of beef cattle that would result in year round slaughter and processing.
Year-round production of grass-fed beef will alleviate the fall slaughtering glut, provide producers and processors with a more consistent income flow, enable consumers to access fresh meat year-round, and potentially increase the total amount of meat grown in the region. The goal of this SARE PDP plan is to create a sustainable meat production system in New England.

Levy Geyer Presentation on Selection of Dairy Breeds for Meat Production
 


Producing Natural Local Meat for Consumers

2008–2011

Important concerns regarding food safety, farm preservation and farm viability stimulated renewed interest in the production of local food. The project is designed to increase engagement of Cooperative Extension Personnel in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Departments of Agriculture, other state and local agencies, USDA agencies and NGOs, and farmers in the production, processing and marketing of natural locally grown meats and other products for consumers.

Consumers will benefit from the availability of locally grown natural meats and farmers will benefit from selling their meat directly to consumers.—these were the basic premises of this first three-year educational project. More than 7 in 10 farmers surveyed in our tri-state survey of meat producers reported they would expand their business if they had better access to a USDA inspected slaughter facility. Dr. Temple Grandin, notable expert in the humane treatment of animals, offered presentations to consumers, farmers and students that have already resulted in changes in the work of livestock farmers, processors, farm workers, and students.

Grazing Schools




Participants in a pasturing/grazing presentation at Millstone Farm in Wilton, CT August 2009


The first project grazing school was conducted at UCONN Torrington Branch in May 2009. Presentations covered basic grazing techniques, USDA programs for grazing, SARE farmer grants, mobile abattoirs for meat producers and a pasture plant identification exercise.
A second grazing school in August 2009 at Millstone Farm in Wilton, CT was cosponsored with CT NOFA. The program included presentations on soil testing and organic amendments, an educational tour of the pastures, a demonstration of the effects of various mowing or clipping heights on pasture regrowth, and information on how to identify different pasture species and about their values for livestock.

Temple Grandin Presentations



Dr. Temple Grandin with students at UMASS farm on March 2, 2010


On March 1-4, 2010 the project sponsored a day visit to each of the universities in the region by Dr. Temple Grandin, notable expert in the humane treatment of animals. Dr. Grandin spoke to a sellout group of consumers and farmers at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. At the three universities, she lectured to student classes, met with faculty and students and cooperative extension personnel, and visited each of the university farms. More than 800 farmers, students, faculty, and agricultural service providers participated in these lectures, discussions and farm visits with Dr. Grandin.
Engaging the Agricultural Community – Responses to Temple Grandin Presentations

Survey of Meat Producers

A first year project activity was a survey of meat producers in the three states, an electronic survey designed by the project team and conducted during February and March 2009. The survey was sent to 285 farmers and a total of 117 responses were received. Survey of Livestock Producers in Southern New England 2009
 
Overall 75% of respondents were part-time farmers. There are significantly fewer part- time farmers in MA (53%) than in CT (87%) or RI (94%). The high incidence of part- time farmers has implications for how and when meetings are scheduled, e.g., holding meetings on evenings and weekends instead of during regular business hours. More than 7 in 10 farmers reported they would expand their business if they had better access to a USDA inspected slaughter facility. Notably, 9 in 10 respondents believe their land will remain in farming, pasture or grazing beyond the next 10 years, however, only about half of them have a plan in place to make sure that will happen. More than 60% of farmers said they would be interested in a farmer-owned cooperative business for inspected slaughter and processing and nearly 70% respondents expressed interest in a fully inspected mobile slaughter facility.

Ninety percent of the respondents feed animals using pasture or pasture and browse while fewer than 10% of them use farm pasture as 100% of their feed.
Overall farmers market their meat product by direct sales of inspected processed meat and by live animal sale to the consumer in equal proportions, 58%. However, there are notable differences in the prevalence of the top two marketing approaches by state. In Connecticut 80% of respondents market through live animal sale to the consumer; only 46% by direct sale of inspected processed meat. In Massachusetts it is the opposite: 77% by direct sale of processed inspected meat and only 37% by live animal sale to the consumer. These two approaches are about equally used in Rhode Island. The high rate of live animal sales in Connecticut correlates with the lack of USDA inspected slaughter and/or processing facilities in the state.


Most respondents were positive on the idea of participating in a local/regional farmer cooperative approach to marketing. Overall half of respondents indicated they thought their customers prefer local meat because "Local meat means you know your producer."

Nutrition's Role in Sustainable Livestock Production Practices

A workshop series for agricultural service providers and farmers on pasture management and infrastructure and the nutritional needs of livestock raised on pasture.

 

Upcoming Workshops:

Check back soon for 2019 workshop dates!


Click below for the 2018 programs

2018 SARE Classroom Workshops
2018 SARE Field Workshops

Click below to register

Register here for any or all 2018 workshops

Click below for a link to the 2018 classroom presentations

-Basic animal nutrition concepts and their ties to animal health - 5/18/18 Workshop


-Sustainably feeding animals and using body condition scoring to evaulate animals - 6/21/18 workshop


-Animal health and diseases related to nutrition - 7/31/18 workshop

Joyce Meader
Katherine Petersson
Maria Hoffman

Upcoming Agricultural Events

NESARE - Farmer Grant Applications

Northeast SARE is now accpecting farmer grant applications, due by November 27th 2018

Click for more information

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