Thursday, January 31, 2013

Week 18 (January 14, 2013)

Some of the class with Farm Management and Marketing Instructor
Ryan Pesch  at Lida Farms, which Ryan  owns.

We are finally back in school after the long winter break.  My classes consist of the following:

  • Grassed Based Livestock Systems - To provide student comprehensive and practical information on designing and implementing grass-based livestock programs.  The following are the desired outcomes of this class:

     1.    Compare and contrast high density grazing with managed intensive grazing systems.
     2.   Outline rotational grazing system components.
     3.   Knowledge of fence systems used in rotational grazing systems.
     4.   Describe pasture management and improvement techniques.
     5.   Knowledge of basic agroforestry applications.
     6.   Knowledge of grazing season extension techniques.
     7.   Describe basic grass-based dairy systems management.
     8.   Describe basic grass-based beef production systems.
     9.   Describe grass-based poultry production.
   10.  Describe grass-based hog production.
   11. Describe basic lamb and goat production.
   12.  Describe a multispecies approach to pasture utilization.
   13.  Describe pasture utilization in a cropping rotation.
   14.  Analyze the affects of continuous grazing.
          15. Explain the ecological implications of a rotational grazing system.

  • Farm Marketing and Management - This course is a general introduction to concepts, strategies and technology for farm planning, economic accounting systems, and marketing techniques.  This course focuses on the managerial methods for researching, planning, and launchiing a farm enterprise.  Students will apply these methods to their own farm enterprise or prospects in order to complete a farm business plan.
  • Sociology of Agriculture - The central theme of this course is to understand the institutions and processes critical to farm success.  Students will utilize sociological perspectives to study the many aspects of a local food system.  This class also has the added dynamic of combining our somewhat non-traditional SFP students with a group of traditional first and second year students from the Equine Program.  These students are all between 18 and 20 (which is the age of my own children).  From what  I know so far the Equine Program sounds like another very interesting unique program that they have up here in Fergus Falls.  I will try to provide some additional information on it in future blog posts.
  • Internship - The central theme or purpose of this course is to plan an agriculture related internship consistent with our future goals in agriculture and then complete the internship.  The internship is required for graduation.
For the second semester blog posts I think I will just give an update of anything out of the ordinary and then pick one of the classes to report on more in depth.  This weeks main post will be on the Grass Based Livestock Systems class.  The following table identifies various classes of livestock and what percent of their diet can be grass/pasture, which is how they were originally designed to function.
         Livestock Class        % Grass
         Cattle *   .....................100%                         * In conventional confinement feeding
         Sheep  .........................100%                            operations these animals are fed a diet 
         Horses ..........................95%                             of almost 100% grain.
         Rabbits ..........................65%
         Turkeys *  ...................  30 - 50%
         Chickens * ....................20 -30%
         Geese ...........................100%
         Goats  ...........................100%
         Hogs *  .........................30 - 50%

Isn't that interesting that we could be feeding these animals grass, which you can grow on marginal lands with minimal adverse impact to the environment, yet we feed them grain (primarily corn) which is harder on the environment. Eventually as the population continues to expand this grain is going to be needed to feed people.

Jersey Calves
Here is some vocabulary building in Dairy Cattle Terminology that might be useful:
Bovine - basically refers to cattle.
Calf - Juvenile bovine up to 1-year old.
Heifer - Juvenile female bovine (until she has her first calf).
Cow - Adult female bovine that has had at least one calf.
Bull - Male bovine, intact (not a steer) (12 to 24 months old before used for breeding).
Steer - Castrated male bovine.
Oxen - Bovines trained to pull.  Typically a steer that is 2 to 3 years old.
Springer - A female dairy bovine that is within 3-months of freshening.  Freshening is when 
                a dairy cow has a calf.
Freshening - Is also the beginning of lactation in a female dairy bovine after having a calf.
Springing - Giving birth to a calf (dairy term).
Calving - Giving birth to a calf (beef term).
Bag - Slang for utter.
Bagging up - Swelling of udder just prior to calving/freshening.

Pastured Pork
As long as we're on a roll we will do a little more vocabulary building by finishing up with some Swine Terminology that you might find useful.
Sow - Adult female swine that has had at least on litter of pigs.
Pigs - Juvenile swine that weighs less than 100-lbs.
Short - Juvenile feeder swine that weighs 100 to 225 lbs.
Feeder Pigs - Typically 25 - 60 lb juvenile swine.
Hogs - Swine over 100-lbs.  (Also any being raised for breeding).
Guilt - Female juvenile swine that hasn't had a litter.
Barrow - Castrated male swine.
Boar - Intact male swine (not a barrow).
Farrowing - When an adult female swine has a litter of pigs.
Finished weight - Is the weight when the hog is ready to go to market (butcher).  Typically 225 - 260 lbs sometimes higher).

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