University of Vermont

Cultivating Healthy Communities

National Experts to Keynote Organic Dairy Farmer Conference

Randolph Center--The annual Vermont Organic Dairy Producers Conference, March 1 in Randolph Center, will focus on managing organic dairies in the face of rising feed costs and weather extremes. Several Vermont farmers will share their experiences in addition to talks by keynote speakers from California and New York.

The University of Vermont (UVM) Extension's Northwest Crops and Soils Program and the Organic Dairy and Livestock Technical Assistance Program of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA)--Vermont are jointly sponsoring the conference, which gets underway at 9 a.m. at Vermont Technical College's Judd Gymnasium. The $20 registration fee covers lunch (if received by Feb. 22) and conference materials.

Farmers may register online at or mail in the registration form with a check, made payable to University of Vermont Extension, to Organic Dairy Conference, UVM Extension, 278 S. Main St., Ste. 2, St. Albans, VT 05478.

To request a disability-related accommodation to attend, contact Deb Heleba at (802) 524-6501 or by Feb. 18.

Program highlights include a talk by Dr. Cindy Daley on how California State University (CSU) at Chico transitioned its farm to a certified organic dairy operation with 80 cross-bred milking cows. The CSU professor also will discuss steps taken to improve soil fertility as well as pasture irrigation and drought management practices.

Karen Hoffman will discuss ways to control off-farm feed costs while meeting the nutritional requirements of organic herds. Hoffman is an animal scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture--Natural Resources Conservation Service in Norwich, N.Y.

Producers also will hear from NOFA--Vermont's Willie Gibson and farmers Bernie Robillard, Derby, and Andrew de la Bruere, Irasburg, on feeding molasses as an energy source. A panel of farmers including Brent Beidler, Randolph Center; Jon Branon, Fairfield; and Earl Fournier, W. Swanton; will describe how they grow and feed annual forages as a means of improving pasture and extending the grazing season on their farms.

In addition, the conference includes a round-up of research results from various UVM studies on mastitis, bovine milk fatty acid, forages and pasture ryegrass. John Cleary, a Plainfield farmer and New England farm coordinator for Organic Valley, will present information on recent research by the Wisconsin-based dairy cooperative that looked at soils, forage quality and feed rations and their effect on fatty acid profiles in milk.