Setting Up Fences and Water for Dairy Grazing – With a Little Help From Some Grants

In December we introduced you to Jonathan and Maryann Connor, owners of Providence Dairy in Addison, Vermont who are making the move to pasture-based dairying. Even if you're not a dairy grazier there are some hints here about grant assistance that could work for your operation. Jonathan, Maryann are working with Cheryl Cesario, a Grazing Outreach Specialist with the University of Vermont Extension in Middlebury and are sharing their experience to help others considering this transition, and just as importantly, to get suggestions and feedback from the On Pasture Community. Making a Plan Since this has been a year of low milk prices and because grazing is a very new concept, Jonathan and Maryann Connor decided to start their grazing adventure conservatively to minimize risk. We had three fields near the barn to work with – two hay fields and one corn field, totaling 46 acres. This area would provide the herd of 90 milking cows approximately 30% of their daily dry matter intake from pasture. Cows would graze either days or nights only and move to a new paddock after each turn out. From a planning standpoint, it was pretty straightforward – nice big rectangular fields; no hills, streams, or ledge to contend with; and the farm is on town water. We were able to plan for a cow lane right up the center, between the fields so animals could exit to paddocks on either side. When we were done, we had a plan that included 12,600 feet of high tensile fence, 4,250 feet of te

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