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Week #5 Learning a bit about Livestock

This week I had the opportunity to attend an udder dissection at a local farms in the town of Perry and Oakfield, NY. The udder dissection was an especially interesting event since the workshop was offered in Spanish and also in English! At each farm there were both English and Spanish speaking milkers, so this was a great learning opportunity for those who were able to attend. It is incredibly important for all employees to understand why certain milking procedures are followed, but sometimes language barriers may be problematic. By educating milkers about the process of the milk production in the udder, it helps to ensure the safety of the cow (and her udder) which must be a priority since she can be milked 2 or 3 times a day. As almost any dairyman will tell you, keeping the cows healthy and comfortable is directly related to milk production, which means making more money at the end of the day.


At the dissection we discussed they physiology of the cow’s udder,  how to prevent mastitis, and why certain milking procedures are performed the way that they are. I found it especially fascinating that each of the cows teats receives its milk from separate quadrants of the udder. I think this is something many people do not think about or do not realize! This adaptation that allows each quadrant to operate independently from the others allows milk production to continue, even if one of the teats becomes infected, or damaged in some way. Below you can see a photo of the entire udder before it was dissected. Having a strong stomach was definitely necessary for today, especially since lunch was served right after the dissection was over!

Week #5 Fly Vacuums for Cows

Learning about dairy cows has been one of my favorite parts of this internship so far. This week I attended a pasture walk in Clifton Springs New York where the main focus of the discussion was geared towards fly control. If you’ve ever lived on or near a dairy farm, you’ve probably experienced how pesky these little insects can be. Fly populations on dairy farms can sometimes become so out of control that it is a stress to the cows and will lower milk production, not to mention the fact that it is a sanitation issue. Too many flies can cause in increase in the bacterial counts in milk and some can transmit diseases or parasites to the animals. Although there are different types of traps, chemicals and farm management practices that will help lower the fly population some farmers take extra measures to ensure that their herd stays stress free and clean. At Steve and Hope Galen’s organic dairy farm in Clifton Springs they have installed a fly vacuum that the cows must walk through each time they enter the barn to be milked. According to Steve some cows have learned to even enjoy the machine! The machine costs around $7,500 which seems very expensive, but it has made a world of difference for these dairy cows. As the cows pass though the vacuum each day and are collected,  it decreases the opportunity for the flies to breed.  Almost no house flies, horn flies or stable flies were bothering these cows, but face flies are not so easily taken care of and remain a pest on the farm. Maybe someday a face fly vacuum will be of help on the farm as well, but for now the Cow Vac seems to be doing really well.



Disease Scouting and Dairy Farms – Week #4


As usual, this week consisted of a variety of tasks. Much of this week was spent gathering malting barley samples to send to the pathology lab at Cornell to be tested for diseases. Some fields in Livingston County had loose smut and powdery mildew, but we will have to wait until harvest to see how the much of an effect it will have on the crop. I’ve gotten to learn quite a bit about the trials of growing malting barley in New York States, most of the growers we have been working with are new at growing this crop. Interest in growing malting barley is increasing though, as it can fetch higher market prices than corn or wheat.

I was out on my own this week to help pull plant samples for the statewide soybean disease survey. I got my first practice in locating fields and scouting by myself! Pulling samples proved to be a little more difficult than I thought it would be since we had some pretty hard rains the night before, so what’s usually a nice walk through the fields was a struggle through the slippery mud! As my internship continues, I will be creating a Google Map to show each location that our team samples from and include pictures of the diseases that we’ve found in each location. This map is meant to be used a reference to the team and also to growers interested in learning to identify the diseases they may have in their fields

Aside from scouting, I attended a pasture walk at Maverick Farm, an organic dairy in Lockport, NY. Local farmers from the area gathered to hear about the grazing management practices that they use on the farm  and we also got to share a great lunch made by Tina Kowalowski, one of the owners. It was a great opportunity for other dairymen to learn from one another to find new ways for optimizing the health and efficiency of the cows on their farm. I really enjoyed being able to meet others who have family farms or have started their own farm, especially since its something I would like to do in the future!

Week # 3 With Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team

The third week on the job has flown by, since each day has offered a different experience! At the beginning of the week Bill Verbeten and I traveled to farms along the border of Lake Ontario and New York to help set up Western Bean Cutworm traps. We traveled across Monroe, Orleans, and Niagra County. The traps are used monitor the cutworm populations and make a regional threshold growers. WIth a regional threshold the growers in western New York will have a better indicator for when they should implement management practices to control this particular pest. The traps will be monitored weekly to check populations and also associate the cutworms presence in the field with the growth stage of the corn. Then, at the end of the season I will be in charge of creating a Google map with the locations and weekly photos of the traps as a reference to those who would like to access information more information about our study.

During my third week, I was very pleased to have the opportunity to attend a team meeting at the Ontario County office with the Northwest Dairy Livestock and Field Crops Team. This was quite fun since it was the first time I was able to see the whole team together. I really enjoyed being able to have a better understanding of how the team functions as a whole.

In the middle of the week, I attended a Holistic Farm Management workshop with Nancy Glazier, the teams small farms specialist. The workshop was organized for local Amish and Mennonite dairy farmers who supply milk for Organic Valley dairy products. Ian Mitchell Innes, a well known South African advocate for holistic grazing management, led the workshop. We toured two different farms to see what plant species were growing in different pastures and discussed potential grazing management plans for the dairy cows. With Ian’s system, the cows should ideally be moving around the pastures at a much faster rate than is typically recommended and should only consume the top third of the plant. This would stimulate the thickening of grassy material in the pasture and also keep the cows full and continuously eating. Since new fresh feed would be presented to them on a regular basis, they would be more likely to eat more. At the end of the day, this method would help the cows to produce more milk and also keep the health of the pastures at its full potential.

Later in the week Bill and I scouted some corn and soybean fields, then also attended a meeting with German Seed company KWS. We met up with Stephan Bruns, the senior breeder for KWS. He oversees variety trials  of the barley breeding programs and oversees breeding research with KWS seed that done is by Cornell. We also met with Ken Davis, the North American breeder and discussed the potential of successfully growing malting barley along with the potential for building up a regional market here in New York State.

Everything wrapped up on Friday with a meeting at a feed corn flaking facility with Nancy Glazier and a bit more barley scouting with Mike Stanyard. Mike and I checked out a couple of fields in Yates and Seneca County and pulled out samples to send to the lab back at Cornell for disease testing. We both learned something new as we found ourselves in a field of barely that seemed a little different from all the rest. It wasn’t long before we found out that it was actually Einkorn wheat, which looks extremely similar to 2-row malting barley!

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Week #2 in Western New York

This week started out with the preparation for Agri-palooza, an annual, educational farm event hosted by Wyoming County. The event has taken place for the past five years and has grown larger and larger each time. This year it was held at Breezy-Hill Dairy. Sixty local vendors and agricultural industry representatives from all over the county set up their booths. There were guided hay wagon rides around the farm to educate the public about what happens on a dairy farm and the importance of the dairy industry.


I spent the rest of the week doing various tasks all around western New York. One day was spent scouting for diseased malting barley to be sent to the lab at Cornell and analyzed. The six row winter barley was just beginning to flower in various counties, with the Alba winter malt variety doing the best so far. Later in the week I went to see an herbicide drift issue between a soybean field and an apple orchard and attend a corn tactical analysis meeting in Livingston County. There, we took populations, staged corn, and also examined seed that had not germinated or plants that seemed to have nutrient deficiencies or pest problems.


The week ended with learning a little more about dairy farming. I spent a morning at Noblehurst farms in Pavillion, Ny. There I was able to see a rotational milking parlor in action, learn the routine of the milking, tour the facilities and see a milking team meeting. Later that same day I got the opportunity to see how robotic milkers work on a different dairy in Canadaigua, NY and observe an employee meeting and safety training with Spanish speaking employees.


Week #1 in the Life of an Agronomist

Weed identification: Lady's Thumb My first day on the job as a Cornell Cooperative Extension Intern began bright and early on June 2nd.  It was great feeling to finally step out the door after several months of planning and anticipation for my summer experience with CCE. My excitement grew as I passed through beautiful farmland on my commute from Rochester all the way to Medina, NY in Genesee County. The first stop in my day was at the farm of Francis Domoy. At the farm, I meet with my boss and CCE field crops specialist Bill Verbeten.  My first day consisted of my very first lessons in weed identification and becoming acquainted with malting barley crops.

Small Grains Field Day in Aurora, NY

 Throughout the rest of the week I became acquainted with farms across Wayne, Livingston, Genesee, Monroe, Seneca, Yates and Ontario County and got the opportunity to get to know members of the Batavia, Canadaigua, and Newark CCE offices. So far, each day has been very different from the last. From helping to take bunker density samples at a dairy farm, insect scouting, to attending the Small Grains Field Day in Aurora, NY, I’ve gotten a great first impression of the extension work that is done here in Western, NY. I look forward to this weekends Agri-Palooza event in Wyoming County and also to the rest of the summer!

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