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Angus Glen Farms practice a type of agroforestry known as silvopasture.
This practice is a blend of the sustainable production of livestock, forage, and trees on the same land. Maintaining both farm and forest while managing water and nutrients increases long-term income and protects soil and streams. Angus Glen Farms is a 300 acre operation located in Watkins Glen, New York. The farm has 80 cow-calf pairs of Angus cattle grown for seed-stock and grass-fed beef production. They practice a form of agroforestry called silvopasture. This practice integrates forest, forage, and livestock management on the same land. The goal is to sustainably produce timber and livestock, improve resiliency to weather extremes, and conserve natural resources.
"We know that forests, generally any kind of forested ecosystem and trees, are resilient to extreme weather events like droughts and floods... So, forests moderate the climate and will help us in our agricultural production." - Steve Gabriel, Agroforestry Extension Specialist, Cornell Small Farms Program
Angus Glen Farms is an operation that practices grazing using silvopasture. Silvopasturing is the sustainable production of timber and livestock on the same land. There are 80 cow-calf pairs of Angus cattle grown for seed-stock and grass-fed beef production on this 300 acre farm. Hear more about the farm from its owner, Brett Chedzoy.
Silvopasture management tries to balance the production of forest, forage, and livestock on the same land. It is a tool that can be used to increase resiliency to challenging conditions and to conserve natural resources for future generations. This blog shares information for those who are using or are considering silvopasture practices.
When developing a silvopasture system from a forest, trees will need to be selectively removed to open up the forest canopy. This is done primarily to allow light to reach the ground and encourage forage growth. This video describes some of the things you should consider when thinning a forest stand. Horse owners developing silvopastures should be aware that wilted and dead red maple leaves are toxic to horses.
Another value of silvopasturing is the benefits gained from managing a woodlot. A well-managed forest stand can offset the threats of unwanted deer, insects, and vegetation. By thinning an overstocked forest stand, you can improve its productivity.
In the past, goats were used at Angus Glen to naturally control undesired species, like multiflora rose, or other noxious plants. Learn more about using goats to manage vegetation.
Today, the rotational grazing of cattle is enough to maintain the desired vegetation. There are 100 permanent paddocks, also called pastures, at Angus Glen Farms. The cattle are rotated to new paddocks every 24 hours to reduce the impact of livestock on the soil and timber in each paddock. Each animal will cycle through the whole farm in a 75 day period, visiting each paddock about four times per year. Hear more from Brett Chedzoy, Jeff Orefice, and Steve Gabriel on rotational grazing.
Steve Gabriel with Cornell Cooperative Extension describes the agroforestry practice of silvopasture and why using forests as part of an agricultural operation helps to moderate the impacts of climate change.
Angus Glen is located within the Seneca Lake watershed, which itself is part of the larger Oswego River Watershed. These areas ultimately drain into Lake Ontario. The owners of Angus Glen Farms want to be good stewards of the land. Their priority is minimizing the impact of their operation on local natural resources.
Brett Chedzoy, Owner, Angus Glenn Farm, explains agroforestry and water management considerations on his farm.
Trends indicate that winters are warming, and this could extend the growing season and the time available for pasture grazing. Because Angus Glen Farms practices planned grazing, they can reduce the amount of time they are feeding hay to their livestock. In the future, they may only need to rely on hay for 3 months or less each year.
Currently, between January and April, round hay bales are "grazed" and livestock are rotated between pastures every 2 days. This practice distributes nutrients across the 300 acre operation. The risk of nutrient runoff during extreme rain events is reduced. In addition, this practice helps to build soil health and improve the quality of the pastures. This Cornell fact sheet discusses the basics of nutrient management practices for pastures.
Well-managed forage fully covers the soil surface, which can reduce runoff during heavy rain events. In contrast, unmanaged pastures or woodlands often have invasive plants and more runoff during intense storms. Brett Chedzoy of Angus Glen Farms shares why silvopasturing is a practice that makes his operation more resilient to extreme weather events while also making it more profitable and enjoyable.
To create silvopastures, thin already established forests or plant trees in grassy areas, such as the one shown here. In this video, Brett Chedzoy, the owner of Angus Glenn Farm, suggests approaches and outlines factors to consider when converting to silvopasture.
Steve Gabriel, Agroforestry Extension Specialist, Cornell Small Farms Program, explains how silvopastures can help reduce climate change.
These fence posts are made from rot-resistant black locust trees harvested from the property. In addition to fence posts, harvested trees could be sold for timber or other wood products. Silvopasturing diversifies a farmer’s income by adding trees and tree products as an additional income stream.
Conifer stands, like the one shown here, serve as living barns. The trees protect cattle from extreme winter weather or summer heat. Ringworm, a common infection when livestock are yarded in confined locations, is reduced when living barns are used. Fewer buildings and lower healthcare costs associated with treating ringworm reduce expenses for the farm operation.
Do you have an area you want to develop for silvopasture? A number of things must be considered when evaluating the potential for a site. Use this form to rate several criteria including site quality, access, natural resource concerns, and hazards.
Before jumping into a silvopasture operation, you should be prepared. To be successful, silvopasturing requires intensive management. Needed skills are diverse, so training, mentoring, and partnerships can be helpful. Having a knowledge of all three elements of the system (forest, forage, and livestock) is necessary for success. You will also need to invest in secure fencing, watering systems, and access to all of your management units. Contact your local USDA Service Center for assistance.
Silvopasturing diversifies the income sources of a farm and may have other economic benefits as well. For example, studies have shown shading can increase production. Check out these economic case studies that highlights the impact of shade on weight gain, milk production, reproduction, and fertility.