Silvopasturing at the Stone Barns Center

Peter and I recently had the opportunity to present a day-long workshop on silvopasturing at the Stone Barns Center in the lower Hudson Valley.  The Stone Barns Center (www.stonebarnscenter.org) is located on the former Rockefeller dairy farm, and today serves as a showcase of "sustainable food systems". 

The main entrance to the Stone Barns Center.  Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area!

 The "livestock team" of the Center practice innovative multi-species grazing with meat chickens, laying hens, turkeys, pigs, cattle, and sheep.

The Center has about 60 acres of woods - mostly mature, mixed hardwoods dominated by heavy understories of shade-tolerant shrubs and vines that pose a challenge to establishing desirable natural regeneration.  Storms like Sandy have caused significant damage in the aging forest and further stimulated the growth of interfering vegetation.

For the past several years, the staff at the Center has effectively used pigs to reduce noxious plants in the farm's woods.  In this picture, a Berkshire sow can be seen rooting up a oriental bittersweet vine. 

 According to "livestock team" member Dan Carr, the pigs thrive while foraging in the cooler, partly-shaded silvopasture areas.  This practice has allowed them to not only begin rehabilitating their woods in an organic and cost-effective manner, but also results in happier, healthier (and less expensive to maintain) pigs.  A sugar maple sapling can be seen in the foreground that is being protected from livestock and deer with a chicken wire cage supported by bamboo stakes.  Numerous young trees were observed being successfully protected this way throughout the forest

Pigs are rotated in small paddocks every few weeks (+/-, depending on ground disturbance and other factors)  Hot, single-strand polytwine fences are used to create paddocks for the larger pigs.  Each paddock is broadcast seeded with a grass mix immediately after the pigs are removed.  The picture above shows a sequence of two paddocks that were seeded about 1 month apart. 

The seeded areas eventually look like the photo above.  Areas may be grazed with the pigs 1 or 2 times (after recovery and revegetation), depending on residual undesirable plants and other factors.  Once the silvopasture understory has shifted to mostly grass and herbaceous plants, it can be rotationally grazed with cattle, sheep and even poultry.

Dan Carr shows widely-spaced black walnut trees in an open pasture area that are being protected by wire cages wrapped in barbed-wire.  The wire prevents cattle from rubbing on and damaging the cages and trees.  Many other useful fruit and nut trees, like Paw Paws have been planted around the center - some in current and future pasture areas.

 

 

Views: 448

Comment by Dan Carr on September 1, 2013 at 11:52am
Thank you for documenting the day Brett, I think everybody that participated gained a lot.

Comment

You need to be a member of silvopasture to add comments!

Join silvopasture

Forum

Silvo-pasturing and mutli-species stocking in tropical Andean foothills

Started by Sam Bosco on Tuesday. 0 Replies

Greetings,I have a family member who is an organic, pastured cattle rancher in somewhat southern Colombia (~3-4 degrees N of the equator).He is very concerned with his grass health and would like to…Continue

Tree Selection Models

Started by John S. Weedon on Monday. 0 Replies

Species recommendations for farmers planting trees in pastures usually assumes the weather in 25 years will be the same as today. Given climate change, that assumption is likely incorrect.Is anyone…Continue

The importance of rotation, rest and recovery when grazing silvopastures

Started by Brett Chedzoy. Last reply by Ricardo Zachrisson C. Dec 2. 1 Reply

An often overlooked or misunderstood concept in silvopasture management is the importance of rotating livestock to allow for adequate rest and recovery of the forage plants, and to minimize impacts…Continue

Public Ecological Benefits of Silvopasture

Started by Ben Dube. Last reply by Brett Chedzoy Nov 14. 5 Replies

Hello all,My name is Ben Dube, and I am a PhD student in Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. I’m interested in the public environmental benefits (for example: protection of surface…Continue

Members

© 2016   Created by Peter Smallidge.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service