Organic Dairy Research Farm

Credit: Scott Ripley/UNH Communications and Public Affairs​

Ryan Courtright, 603-659-2121

ODRF cows grazing

NOTICE (3/17/2020): For safety reasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, access to our NHAES farms and greenhouses has been temporarily restricted to employees and essential research staff only. There will be no exceptions, as this is a UNH-wide decision made in order to protect our employees and our public. Thank you for understanding.

The Organic Dairy Research Farm is operated by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station and College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, and represents the first of its kind at a land-grant university. It is intended to help the University of New Hampshire explore opportunities for regional dairy producers through research.

The farm is home to about 100 registered Jersey cows, heifers, and calves, and located in Lee, about seven miles from the university’s main campus in Durham. The property consists of 275 acres, of which roughly 120 are woodlands, 100 are crops or forage production, and 55 are pastures. In addition to the working land base, the current operation includes a milking Jersey herd twice a day, step-up four-stall milking parlor, animal, equipment and storage barns, intensive rotational grazing system, numerous wells for water sampling, manure composting wind rows, staff offices, and sample processing space. Cows produce an average of 43 pounds of milk a day with 5.1 percent butterfat and 3.6 percent protein.

The farm is managed as an integrated agro-ecosystem that includes the biological, physical and human-related components.  As such it offers a platform for research and education across many disciplines. Research priorities are relevant to both organic and conventional farm operations. A primary focus of the farm is to undertake research of relevance to organic farm systems to better serve the organic farming community, consumers, and the environment. 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. Faculty scientists and farm staff work cooperatively to undertake these activities while complying with organic certification practices.  The farm is a popular destination for visitors and local K-12 school field trips.