The Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center and the Organic Dairy Research Farm, both facilities of the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, have been awarded 2016 Special Gold Certificate Awards by the Dairy Farmers of America.
“Our dairy farms consistently produce some of the highest quality milk in the country. This is a testament to the exceptional work of our dairy managers, staff and students who carefully care for our herds and ensure that our cows are among the healthiest in the nation,” said Jon Wraith, director of the NH Agricultural Experiment Station and dean of the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture.
As a result of receiving the award, UNH is paid the highest price for its milk – called quality premiums. Dairy Farmers of America is the leading national milk cooperative with more than 13,000 dairy producers in 48 states. Milk from the Fairchild Dairy goes to the Hood plant in Concord, and milk from the Organic Dairy goes to the Organic Valley Coop.
The Dairy Farmers of America Gold Standard Dairy Program, one of the first in the industry, is an on-farm best practices evaluation program that assesses operations on the areas of animal care and wellness, environmental stewardship, employee training, and milk safety and quality. The program assesses, analyzes and provides feedback regarding on-farm practices, encourages continuous improvement and recognizes achievements.
The Dairy Farmers of America tests milk for a number of factors that indicate herd health, hygiene, and sanitation. Among those is the somatic cell count. Dairy herds with a low somatic cell count tend to be more profitable herds since they have reduced treatment and veterinary costs for mastitis, which is the most common and costliest disease for dairy cattle, higher milk production per cow, and higher milk quality premiums.
The Gold Standard Dairy Program also incorporates National Milk Producers Federation’s National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management Program (FARM) as its animal care module. The FARM program, which DFA fully supports, sets industry-wide guidelines for animal care and wellness best practices.
Long recognized for its quality milk and operations, the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center develops new knowledge and management expertise geared directly toward many state and regional stakeholders. It houses about 90 milking-age Holstein cows and approximately 70 growing, replacement animals. Included in that number is the 20-cow, student-managed Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management (CREAM) herd, with the remaining animals devoted primarily to research in dairy nutrition and reproductive biology. Cows at the Fairchild Dairy Center produce an average of about 26,000 to 27,000 pounds of milk per cow per year, which is greater than the national average of about 22,000 pounds per cow a year.
The Organic Dairy Research Farm, first of its kind at a land-grant university, is home to about 100 registered Jersey cows, heifers, and calves and is managed as an integrated agro-ecosystem that includes the biological, physical and human-related components. A primary focus of the farm is to undertake relevant research to serving the organic dairy community. Areas of study include dairy nutrition and feeds, pasture quality, forage production, compost production, and management of the associated streams, soils, woodlands, and other natural resources.
Founded in 1887, the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture is UNH’s original research center and an elemental component of New Hampshire's land-grant university heritage and mission. We steward federal and state funding, including support from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, to provide unbiased and objective research concerning diverse aspects of sustainable agriculture and foods, aquaculture, forest management, and related wildlife, natural resources and rural community topics. We maintain the Woodman and Kingman agronomy and horticultural research farms, the Macfarlane Research Greenhouses, the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center, and the Organic Dairy Research Farm. Additional properties also provide forage, forests and woodlands in direct support to research, teaching, and outreach.