Silvopasture in the Northeast

Final Report for FNE03-484

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2003: $6,243.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
John O'Meara
O'Meara Family Farm
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Project Information


Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE03-484

In general, this agroforestry project has convinced us that silvopasture should be an important part of our farm. Several wood products, including lumber and firewood, offer real potential for profit. With relatively little financial risk involved in normal development of a silvopasture, it seems that our farm should continue to devote our time to agroforestry. We produce and train teams of oxen with little or no capital investment- we harvest wood in winter, when other farm obligations are minimal.

This project has taught us that tamarack works particularly in a silvopasture setting, especially in a northern climate. A fast-growing, extremely hard tree adaptable to a wide variety of soils, tamarack produces durable and rot-resistant wood, which fetches a premium at local sawmills in our region. The cows both it less than other species and it produces a crop quickly. We would recommend it to other farmers considering a silvopasture project.
Black walnut also work particularly well in a silvopasture setting. Because of its value, it adds to the long-term viability of any project like the one conducted at O'Meara Family Farm. Its slower growth makes it a fit companion to tamarack or other species in silvopasture.
Another key advantage to silvopasture on our farm has been its function as shelter for our animals. Because of the rotational grazing scheme in place on our farm, the cows have access to a section of silvopasture most of the grazing season. This has been an invaluable asset during not infrequent inclement weather. The cows take shelter when they need it in the silvopasture areas.

Overall, the silvopasture project meshes well with our long-term goal of continuing to build up our small dairy herd. It is a project that would function well on any livestock farm, but fits particularly well with a low-input dairy farm such as ours. Whereas many woodlots in our neighborhood are over harvested, we feel that ours is improving in value and profitability of our diverse farm.


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  • James Fownes


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.