The Organic Dairy Research Farm, a facility of the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, has taken home the gold for outstanding milk quality, receiving a 2017 Gold Quality Award from the Organic Valley Cooperative.
“Our Organic Dairy Research Farm produces some of the highest quality organic milk in the country. This is a testament to the exceptional dedication and commitment of our dairy manager, staff, and students who carefully care for our herd and ensure 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.
The national award program is designed to honor organic dairy farmers who produce milk of the highest quality. Nominees are evaluated on their systems of monitoring udder health, milking routine, protocols for detection and treatment of clinical and subclinical cases, treatment protocols, and strategies for overall herd health and welfare.
In the last year, the Organic Dairy Research Farm has increased organic milk production by nearly 127,000 pounds as a result of management practices implemented by the farm’s new manager Ryan Courtright. A dairy farmer originally from Pennsylvania, Courtright began managing the farm in April 2017. In addition to improving management practices, he also has reduced feed costs at the farm. He considers the research farm as an important role model for the organic dairy industry in regards to herd health and management, and best business practices that improve the bottom line for producers.
To receive the Gold Quality Award, the organic dairy achieved an average somatic cell count of less than 100,000. 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.
As a result of receiving the award, UNH is paid the highest price for its organic milk – called quality premiums. Milk from the organic dairy goes to the Organic Valley Cooperative, America's largest cooperative of organic farmers, representing more than 2,000 organic farms in 34 states, Canada and Australia.
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.