Making the Switch to Grazing – With a Little Help From Your Friends

Adopting a new management practice on the farm can be a daunting and stressful endeavor. Change is difficult, especially when those changes come with financial risks. When farmers consider grazing as a new management practice, or want to change or improve their existing system, there is often a lot of planning work. And even the best-laid plans need continual adjustment and improvement. Steve and Kelly Robinson of Islandacres Farm in South Hero are experiencing this first hand, as they move into the second year of grazing on their dairy farm. Steve saw grazing as a way to mitigate the risk of annual crops. After two years of poor corn yields, Steve called me in 2013 and said, “Okay, what do I need to do to start grazing these cows?” After working with Extension to develop a grazing plan (see side bar), the Robinsons received an NRCS EQIP (Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program) contract to install fence, water pipeline and animal laneways as part of their grazing system. Additionally, one of the most critical contract items was seeding down approximately 60 acres of corn land that had been in annual crops for over 20 years. For a larger grazing contract, the

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