Ohio men honored for work in promoting intensive grazing

SHIPSHEWANA, Ind. – Two Ohio men were recognized during the 2001 Great Lakes International Grazing Conference for their work in fine-tuning the art and science of intensive grazing.

David Zartman, dairy scientist at Ohio State University, and Tom Noyes, Wayne County extension dairy agent, received the 2001 Master Grazier Award during the conference in Shipshewana, Ind. The award’s recipient is selected by an anonymous committee.

Born and raised on a New Mexico dairy farm, Zartman is a second generation grazing enthusiast – his father was involved with New Mexico’s Experiment and Research Sites pasture and grazing studies.

He received a bachelor’s degree in dairy husbandry from New Mexico State University and returned to the family farm in a junior partnership with his father.

Zartman later completed both his master’s degree and his doctorate in genetics at Ohio State.

Finding what works.

Zartman’s involvement with grazing in Ohio began when he was asked to participate in a planning meeting with the extension service’s eastern district. The group was looking at eastern Ohio and particularly the Appalachian area. They felt agriculture had a lot of promise in the region and Zartman was asked to look at dairy opportunities, including grazing.

“One of the advantages the eastern region has is its ability to produce forages,” he said. “That asset of forage production hit me in the face, and as I worked through the questions I worked with what we had learned from the New Zealand model.”

Zartman explained that while New Zealand is similar in environment to Appalachian Ohio, there were several questions to be answered and decided to lead a project to find those answers.

The project began in 1988 at the Mahoning County branch of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

Grazing benefits.

Zartman said grazing offers several benefits to farmers. Not only does it provide a profitable system of farming by lowering labor costs, feed costs, and improving herd health, but it is environmentally, ecologically and sociably acceptable.

Zartman currently teaches two classes at Ohio State University, one a contemporary issues class called “Animals and Their Use by Humans” and a new class called “Management Intensive Grazing.”

Personal involvement.

Zartman’s involvement with grazing has been on a personal level.

“‘This has given me a great living; it kept me attached to my emotional roots with the land and animals,” he said.

Zartman was the first member of the Great Lakes Grazing Network. “He started the grazing movement in Ohio,” Noyes said.

Tom Noyes.

Noyes grew up on a small Guernsey farm in Rhode Island. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in animal and dairy science from University of Rhode Island and spent six years as a 4-H agent in Massachusetts.

After he obtained his master of science degree in dairy nutrition from University of Massachusetts, he and his family moved to Ohio in 1974 to assume the position of dairy extension agent in Wayne County.

He is currently in partnership in a 110-acre dairy farm with his daughter and son-in-law, Cheryl and Russ King. They have 120 Jerseys and Ayrshires in a management intensive grazing operation.

Looked too easy.

Noyes’ involvement with management intensive grazing started with a 1989 visit to Zartman’s Mahoning County Farm project.

“I said ‘that looks too easy.’ The pasture quality was outstanding, it was just too easy,” Noyes recalled. “I could see this is another way to have high production besides a confinement feeding system. I came home and talked to Russ about it.”

In 1990, they started grazing hay strips on their farm and the rest is history.

“Grazing has reduced costs, improved animal health and reduced labor,” Noyes said. “We have also reduced equipment and machinery expense. Our farming operation is managing grass and cows, that is all we do. Any hay or silage we harvest as a surplus is custom hired. It makes living pretty nice.”

Research project.

In 1994, Noyes got involved in a research project on supplemental feeding cows on pasture at OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster.

Because of Noyes’ combined interest in nutrition and grazing, it was natural to look at whether supplemental feeding was needed for cows on pasture.

At the conclusion of the project, Noyes and Dr. William Weiss put together a fact sheet and slide series, which they presented at the 1998 and 1999 grazing conferences.

In 1997, Noyes was asked to be part of the Great Lakes Grazing Conference Planning Committee and for the past four years, he has chaired the program committee.

In addition to research projects and working with the grazing conference, Noyes has teamed up with other extension people to conduct grazing schools, not only in Ohio, but Vermont, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana.

Grazing has also earned him recognition from his peers, including a distinguished service award at both state and national levels from the National Association of Extension, Agriculture and Natural Resource Agents. He will receive the national award this summer in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“When we are riding around the county to see the paddocks and polywire all over the county, it is always a good feeling to see what the effect has been,” Noyes said.

Takes new attitude.

Grazing has been a learning experience for Noyes. He has learned a lot about cow behavior, why they do what they do, how they graze, why they eat what they eat and how they travel.

“If you are going to a grazing system, you must do so in a positive frame of mind,” he said. “You have to be positive that it is going to work on your farm and you have to make it work. You need to forget some of the old when you adopt a new system.”

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