Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ag Marketing News Update

With the direct marketing season in full swing, it’s a good time to step back and examine some of the tools and marketing technics that can have a substantial impact on your success as a direct marketer. Whether the outlet is a farmers’ market, your on-farm stand, or working with your CSA or wholesale accounts, check if how you’re implementing your marketing strategies falls into any of these categories:

The Good:

  1. Always offering high quality products through all your marketing outlets. The “Buy Local” theme is spilling out beyond edibles and into the market for services and experiential activities such as agritourism. Providing your customers a consistently high quality product, service, or experience will help garner more repeat business for you.
  2. Many farmers’ markets are better organized than ever before. Market management is doing a better job of market design, servicing a mixed customer base, attracting a wider variety of vendors, and keeping up with technology such accepting EBT payments.
  3. New technology such as Square Register for taking credit card payments and new marketing tools such as QR codes are making sales transactions easier than ever. Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest provide new ways to communicate with customers in a timely and interesting fashion.

The Bad:

  1. Inconsistent quality or questionable sourcing. The most sustainable markets are those who offer consistently high quality products and are transparent about their sources. Sometimes crops fail or delayed due to weather. Either take this opportunity to educate your customers about the risks in farming or if you source from someone else, let customers know that these products are from another grower. Customers trust a farmer’s integrity. Breach that trust and customers will become suspicious of all farmers.
  2. Lack of signage and pricing at point of sales. Customers don’t want to ask for pricing. Signage on your product can be like a label. Labels are the first thing customers see on a product so take advantage both the great eye appeal of your products along with signage.
  3. Making negative comments about other vendors or their products is a poor sales technique.

The Ugly:

  1. Inattentive vendors. Don’t let your customers find you reading the paper or constantly chatting with the vendor next to you or employees at your farm. It’s sending the message that they’re purchasing experience isn’t important to you.
  2. Hanging on your cell phone, constantly checking emails, or texting.

Your primary goal as a direct marketer is to give customers an exceptional buying experience. That includes the quality of the product, information about the product, how it was produced or sourced, and the level of customer service you offer. Make it all good.
Digesting Hay in Different Forms - Equine

Many horse owners have their hay-buying ritual down to a science. But from time to time, owners might find themselves rethinking their ritual, possibly due to drought, floods, or other factors that limit the forage supply in their area.
Fortunately, bales aren't the only hay option. Owners might need to "think outside the bale" and pursue a different form of forage for their charges. Here’s some information about different hay forms owners can consider:
Square Bales
The most common hay form is the small square bale, which can weigh approximately 45 to 100 pounds each, depending on how they're baled. Square bales are fairly easy to transport, feed, and store, and they allow owners to manage each horse's daily intake.
Round Bales
Large round bales are another option, although their weight—typically ranging from 500-800 pounds—generally makes them more difficult to handle. Round bales also foster an increased risk of botulism, and mold can form if bales aren't produced properly. Moisture at the time of baling is key for larger bales types and should not exceed 20%; higher moisture levels increase the likelihood of mold development. One study by University of Minnesota researchers found that hay waste from round bales can exceed 50% when fed without the use of a feeder; the team showed that with a feeder wastage can be reduced to as little as 5%.
Large Square Bales
Large square bales can weigh up to 2,200 pounds and require farm machinery to transport. These bales also require substantial storage room. Similar to round bales, large square bales have an increased risk of molding if not cured properly. However, owners can feed them in flakes for easier daily intake management.
Double Compressed Bales
Square bales can be further compressed for ease of storage and transportation. Double compression usually shrinks a normal, large square bale to the size of a desktop, with a hefty weight of around 25 pounds per cubic foot. Because of the tight compression, there is less likelihood of mold or bug infestation when properly cured and stored. However, once the bale is cut open, it will enlarge to its original size. Like any square bale, the double compressed bales are processed in flake form for easy feeding.
Cubes and Pellets
Hay cubes are formed by compressing hay into small squares or wafers. Hay pellets are produced by compacting and forcing the forage through an opening before cutting the resultant pellet to the desired length and width. Hay cubes and pellets can be advantageous for several reasons, including less waste produced, less storage space needed, increased ease of transportation, and minimal dust produced. However, researchers have found that horses tend to eat hay cubes and pellets at a quicker rate than baled hay, which could increase their risk for choking or developing undesirable behaviors such as wood chewing. Hay cubes and pellets also tend to be more expensive on a per pound basis when compared to baled hay.
Chopped Hay
Hay can be chopped to a length of about one inch for easier feeding and digestibility. Study results have shown there is no difference in daily intake between long-stemmed hay and chopped hay forms. Chopped hay can benefit older horses or horses with poor teeth because it is easier to chew. However, chopped hay can become dusty, so consider soaking it before feeding to help reduce dust concentrations that can exacerbate respiratory issues.
This conserved forage is produced by anaerobic (not requiring oxygen) fermentation of the nonstructural carbohydrate fractions, making it more acidic and preventing the growth of microorganisms. Historically, horse owners have not typically fed silage to horses, as it could contain Clostridium botulinum, botulism's causative agent. However, when properly produced, stored, and preserved, research results have shown that silage tends to contain low levels of allergens such as pollen or spores.
Take-Home Message
Choosing the right form of hay for your horses requires considering the type of horses you are managing and matching the form to their needs. In addition, consider cost per pound in the decision-making process.

courtesy - Horse Magazine

Friday, June 21, 2013

Virginia Forage and Grassland Council
Native Warm Season Grass Tour
Farm and Tour Description:

The 2013 Shenandoah Valley Summer Forage Tour will visit two local farms in Augusta
County and highlight how they successfully established and managed native warm season grasses

to benefit their overall farming operations.

Buck Hill Farm is located in Augusta County in the Mt. Solon community. Buck Hill Farm is
a family owned beef cattle operation operated by Mr. David Horn. In addition to farming, Mr.

Horn’s passion for hunting and quail led him to plant 6 acres of Big Bluestem in 1998. The success

of this stand and its value to the farm and recreation led him to plant 10 more acres this


This tour will also visit Mr. Charlie Drumheller’s Bellevue Farm in Swoope, VA. Bellevue

Farm has been in the Drumheller family since 1942. Mr. Drumheller is currently developing a

Red Angus herd with his son Bobby while custom grazing a larger herd for 2 other farmers. The

Drumhellers planted switchgrass in 2008 on approximately 11 acres for the primary purpose of
hay and grazing with a secondary purpose for wildlife. Based on the success and benefits to the

Drumhellers farm system, they planted another 18 acres in 2010.
Tour will feature the following topics:

 Multiple purposes for plan􀆟ng warm season grasses

 Planning for successful establishment of NWSG’s

 Controlling weeds and competition during establishment

 Managing NWSG’s in a grazing system

 Managing NWSG’s for biodiversity and wildlife

 Does NWSG hay have a place in the farm operation?

 Potential use of NWSG’s in the biofuels industry.

 Managing phosphorus in a grazing beef cattle system

9:00 AM -3:00 PM, registration at 9:00 AM, tour starts at 9:30 AM

VFGC Contact 
For more information about this tour contact Matt Booher at 5402455750 or mrbooher@vt.edu. Registration fee required

Thursday, June 20, 2013

2013 Northern Virginia/West Virginia  Regional Wool Pool


Local producers interested in marketing their wool through local wool pools will have the opportunity to do so through Mid-States Wool Growers Cooperative Association based in Canal Winchester, Ohio.  Producers are encouraged to package, handle and store their wool in an appropriate manner in order to maximize the value of their wool clip.  Wool should be packaged by type and grade (ewe vs. lamb wool, long staple vs. short wools, fine vs. medium wools) in plastic bags, and be clean, dry, and have foreign material (straw, mud, manure) removed prior to packaging.  Following is the local pool delivery date, and location where wool will be picked up:


July 3                      Clarke County Fairgrounds, Berryville  from 8am-11:30 am


For more information regarding specifics contact Corey Childs

at 540-635-4549 or cchilds@vt.edu.


Wool to be sorted and graded in Ohio, and priced according to grade.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The 2012 Shenandoah Valley AREC Field Day will be held on Wednesday, August 7th beginning at 1:00 p.m.  This will be an afternoon program/tour and will conclude with dinner on the grounds that evening.  This will be an excellent opportunity for producers with an interest in livestock, grazing/forages, and forestry to view the research being conducted at the Shenandoah Valley AREC and interact with researchers and industry folks.

Contact your local Extension office for registration information or call 540-635-4549.

Mid Atlantic Small Ruminant Extravaganza


The Olde Dominion Agriculture Complex

Chatham, Virginia.

Performance Management Group will present a two day educational event on meat goats with the preeminent meat goat breeder, producer, and educator, Dr. An Peischel, Small Ruminant Extension Specialist from Tennessee State University. Dr. An will conduct her Master Meat Goat Producer Certification program on Thursday and Friday,      Sept 19, 20, 2013     www.theodac.com/

The tax deductible fee for the program is $45.00, if registration is received before July 1, 2013. After July 1, 2013, the fee is $50.00 per person.  In conjunction with the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test, there will be an Elite Buck and Doe Sale on Saturday, Sept 21, 2013. For more information contact John at 804-731-8512 0r email; jstrider01@netscape.com or Don at 434-946-7344 or e-mail; triple.rose@hotmail.com.                                          
See http:pmg-epd.com for program and sale registration forms and sale rules.