25 agricultural service providers who learn through this project will provide education and assistance (e.g. workshops, meetings, individual consultations, articles, fact sheets) about the recommended sustainable livestock production practices to 200 farmers in CT, MA and RI who manage 4,000 head of livestock (beef cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens).
This section will be completed in its entirety for the final report
A variety of educational delivery methods will be employed over the course of the three year project. Classroom workshops, held in one central location will be presented as a series, each one building on the previous. Three classroom workshops will be planned and held each year, in conjunction with three field training workshops for a total of 6 workshops per year and 18 workshops over the course of the three year project. The field training workshops will help to reinforce the concepts taught in the classroom and will provide a hands-on educational approach to learning. Online access to presentations, frequent email communication and updates and an online platform allowing for discussion and conversation will also be available to those involved in the project.
Content area specialists will be invited to speak at the workshops to share their knowledge and skills with the participants. Those invited to speak include: veterinarians, faculty and staff from the Universities of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Extension educators, and private industry consultants.
Workshops will include action planning sessions, where service provider participants discuss ideas for teaching and advising farmers about the content and recommendations and identify at least one action step for doing so.
All workshops will be announced via the project website (www.meatsystems.uconn.edu) and the project mailing list. Advisers to the project will also share information regarding this project through their email lists. Workshop materials as well as other applicable information will be posted to the project’s website.
Milestones for year 1
1. 450 agricultural service providers receive an online survey that assesses their learning needs and priorities related to sustainable livestock production practices. This assessment will determine the topical area(s) of focus and what the project structure will be for the 2017-2020 project.
An online needs assessment, conducted using Qualtrics software was sent to the project’s email list (approximately 450 people). 73 people total participated in the needs assessment (48 service providers and 25 farmers).This assessment helped determine the areas that agricultural service providers (and farmers) feel they need further training in. Those areas were found to be: nutrition, health and well being, pasture management/infrastructure and nutrient management. The assessment also determined the distance participants would travel for a workshop, the optimal length of the program, and the type of programming that would be most beneficial for the project. It was determined that classroom workshops can be held in one central location, allowing each one to build on the content and skills taught in the previous workshop. Field training workshops will be held in each state, each one providing hands-on application of a portion of the content taught in the classroom. All workshops will be half day programs.
11 advisory group members provide feedback and advice to the project director via conference calls, email communication and telephone calls. This will help to determine the specific training and educational needs of those involved, as it relates to the feedback received in the needs assessment conducted in milestone 1. Topical emphasis, project curricula, project structure and training tools will be discussed. This group will also be consulted throughout the year when feedback on workshops and suggestions for improvement are being solicited.
The 11 member advisory group was consulted after the needs assessment results were quantified and analyzed. A conference call among the majority of the group members was held in February 2018. Discussion included a recap of the needs assessment findings, the project focus and structure (in particular for year 1), topical areas of emphasis, and a conversation about best practices for adult learning. Individual phone conversations took place with all of the remaining members who weren’t able to be on the conference call.
In the months preceding the first workshop in May, advisory group members were contacted through email to solicit input and suggestions on content area specialists who could speak at workshops. All members have also helped to share information about the upcoming 2018 workshops with those they feel would benefit from attending.
The Project Director followed up via email with all of the advisory group members who attended each workshop (6 total). They were asked to provide their feedback and thoughts on the workshop, including but not limited to things such as: the structure/flow of the workshop, the part of the workshop that left the most room for improvement, the part of the workshop they thought was most engaging and if the group discussion accomplished its intended purpose. This feedback was utilized by the project director throughout the year to make changes to the remaining workshops planned for the year.
In October 2018 the Project Director organized a conference call with the 12 member advisory group. The purpose of the call was to review the plans that the Project Director has created for year 2 of the project. Feedback was solicited from the members on the proposed topics for year 2. The Project Director also asked for suggestions of content area specialists who might speak well to any of the topics as well as farms in the CT, MA and RI area (employing these topics) that may be interested in hosting a workshop for the project. Individual phone conversations took place with all of the remaining members who weren’t able to be on the conference call.
*Please note that a member was added to the group part way through the year. Hence, what started out as an 11 member group finished as a 12 member group by the end of 2018 year.
3. 450 agricultural service providers receive an announcement describing the new SARE tri-state sustainable livestock education project: Nutrition's Role in Sustainable Livestock Production Practices. The announcement includes an invitation to provide feedback to the Project Director including comments, interests or suggestions as they relate to the project. Moving forward throughout year 1, planned workshops will be promoted and advertised on the project website (firstname.lastname@example.org) and with the help of agricultural service provider publications.
A follow up email to the needs assessment, included an announcement sent to the tri-state project email list (approximately 450 agricultural service providers and farmers). The announcement included a brief summary of the needs assessment findings, the title of the project and the topics of focus for the project, through 2020. All recipients were invited to look at the project website for more information about workshop dates and were also invited to provide input and advice as it related to the topics of focus for the 2017-2020 project. The project director received only a small amount of feedback, most of which embraced the excitement of the new project focus.
4. 30 participants (agricultural service providers and farmers) respond to an invitation announcement, register and attend a series of 3 half-day classroom workshops that will be held in a central location. These workshops will allow for the increase of knowledge and skills in livestock nutrition; and allow for the understanding of the relationship between nutrition and the health and well-being of livestock. At each workshop, participants will engage in small group discussions to generate ideas for teaching and advising farmers about the content learned in the workshop. Participants will develop at least one action step to help farmers with this area of nutrition. All participants will also be asked to respond to a questionnaire to assess their learning at the conclusion of each workshop. (by October 2018)
In April, a formal announcement containing all three workshops dates was distributed to the tri-state project listserv, the 11 member advisory group and numerous other agricultural organizations throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 2018-sare-workshops This announcement also gave the recipients the option to register for any/all of the dates that they wished to attend. 47 persons registered for one or more of the classroom workshops. A separate reminder announcement was sent approximately 2 weeks in advance of each of the upcoming workshops. The dates of the three classroom workshops in 2018 were: Friday May 18th, Thursday June 21st, and Tuesday July 31st. All three workshops were held in a central location at the Farm Credit East Office in Enfield, CT.
1st classroom workshop: May-18-2018-agenda
This workshop, titled Basic animal nutrition and its impact on animal health featured two content area specialists (May-18-2018-workshop), an instructor at UConn who teaches courses in animal nutrition and an independent nutritionist and consultant. Topics covered included simple animal nutrition concepts and the link between animal health and nutrition. A group discussion held after the presentations was engaging, with nearly all attendees offering some input. Several steps were discussed that agricultural service providers can take action on. Those steps included: start by encouraging more farmers to develop a relationship with agricultural service providers – many farmers tend to form their own circles and don’t often solicit help. This relationship will take time to build, but fostering it first is an essential step to the end result of helping farmers become more efficient and sustainable. Another step that was discussed would be helping farmers take feed and forage samples and subsequently helping them understand the importance of doing so explaining and interrupting test results and comparing samples. Twenty-one (21) persons registered and 15 attended: 4 extension educators; 8 ag service providers; and 3 farmers. Eight persons completed on-site evaluations; 6 reported an increase in knowledge of the topics; 2 reported no change in understanding but were already knowledgeable about the topic. Seven (7) of 8 reported that they were already working to learn about animal nutrition and using knowledge with farmers, or that they intended to do so in the next year.
2nd classroom workshop:June-21-2018-agenda
This workshop, titled Sustainably Feeding Animals and the Use of Body Condition Scoring to evaluate animals, featured three content area specialists (June-21-2018-workshop). An instructor at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, UMass spoke about the concept of feeding animals sustainably. A large animal veterinarian and the Executive Director for the Northeast Pork Association discussed the evaluation of beef cattle, sheep, goats and pigs using body condition scoring. A group discussion, held after the presentations was constructive in developing actions steps (above those mentioned in the previous workshop) that may be taken by agricultural service providers as well as farmers. Action steps included speaking with farmers to understand what their goals are first and then providing them with the tools and education they need to reach their goals. Another step was to determine if the farm/farmer understands the meaning of sustainability, and subsequently determine what their sustainability definition is and how they measure it within their operation. Yet another step was to work with farms to help them implement the use of body condition scoring on their farm. Fifteen (15) persons attended: 5 extension educators; 6 ag service providers; and 4 farmers. Eleven (11) persons completed on-site evaluations: 6 reported an increase in understanding of sustainable feeding practices; 5 already had considerable knowledge and were unchanged. Ten (10) of 11 reported considerable understanding of Body Condition Scoring. Five (5) persons said they were already learning about sustainable feeding practices; were encouraging the use of body condition scoring; and were discussing those practices with farmers and ag service providers. The other 6 persons noted that they would plan to do both of these in the next 2 years.
3rd classroom workshop: July-31-2018-agenda
This workshop, titled Enhancing Animal Health and Well-being through Nutrition, featured three content area specialists (July-31-2018-workshop). All three specialists were educators, one extension personnel from CT, while the remaining two were professors at the University of Rhode Island. Topics covered included the following: common diseases affecting livestock as a direct result of nutrition, parasite control through proper nutrition (in particular when grazing small ruminants on pasture), and proper nutrition during gestation-its effect on the animal and her offspring. This workshop was also voice recorded from start to finish and is available to those who wish to reference it on the project website. The workshop allowed for discussion groups to form on the diseases presented. Participants were broken up into small groups and were given some information and they needed to work together to determine what disease was ailing the particular specie they were assigned to. As with the previous classroom workshops this year, a group discussion was held after all presentations. Every person who was in attendance at the workshop voluntarily spoke during the discussion. It allowed for dialogue among the participants throughout the discussion, some of which continued after the workshop had concluded. During the discussion, the following steps were mentioned as potential actions to take in order to help improve animal health through proper nutrition. 1. Perform a fecal egg count on small ruminants when grazing during the summer months. 2. Encourage farmers to join agricultural clubs/groups so that they can learn from others around them and also be included on listservs where they will be notified of other workshops/seminars they can attend to hear content area specialists talk. 3. Help farmers test their forages so that they know exactly what their animals are getting and what else they might need (this step was mentioned in the first classroom workshop as well). Sixteen (16) persons attended the workshop: 7 farmers; 5 ag service providers; and 4 Extension educators. Eleven (11) persons completed on-site evaluations; all reported moderate to considerable knowledge of common diseases of animals that are directly influenced by nutrition; at completion 8 reported increase to maximum understanding of parasite control through nutrition and increase in understanding of physiological stages and nutrition. All respondents are either already working with farmers or plan to in the next year on these topics.
5. 30 agricultural service providers and farmers will receive an invitation announcement, register online as a participant and attend at least one of three half day field training workshops – one to be held in each state - that will highlight the recommended practices taught in the classroom workshops, including feedstuff analysis, body condition scoring, and pasture rotation to control parasite activity. This will allow for continued learning and further discussion about the topic and farmers' perspectives related to it.
In August, a formal announcement field-workshops-FLYER containing all three field workshop dates was distributed to the tri-state project listserv, the 12 member advisory group and numerous other agricultural organizations throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These dates were listed on the project’s website and online registration form prior to August, allowing many to sign up several months prior to the distribution of the formal announcement. Reminder announcements were sent approximately 2 weeks in advance of each of the workshops in an effort to remind those who are interested in attending and have not yet registered. The dates and location of the three field workshops in 2018 were: Friday August 17th at the UMass Amherst Hadley farm, Monday September 10th at UConn’s Livestock unit, and Friday October 12th at URI’s Peckham Farm.
1st field training workshop: UMass-field-training-Aug-17th-agenda
This workshop focused on parasite control in small ruminants. The workshop included a brief discussion with one of the project’s advisory group members, Masoud Hashemi, who spoke about grasses and legumes commonly found in New England pastures and the differences in them. The livestock barn manger provided a tour of the pastures demonstrating the rotational grazing system UMass utilizes to control and reduce parasite activity in sheep and goats. A discussion was had while in the field that allowed all participants to discuss their pasture set up and what works best for them. A hands on demonstration of performing a fecal egg count was also conducted as well. The process of taking the sample, followed by preparing the sample and then looking at it under a microscope was demonstrated to all participants. FAMACHA scoring was also performed as an exercise during the workshop. The technique was demonstrated and those participants who wanted to try it could. There was discussion about how to keep the score card in acceptable condition and some tips for successful scoring was shared, including performing the scoring in natural light, scoring both eyes and making a decision quickly and positively so that the membranes aren’t exposed to air for an extended period of time. Both fecal egg counts as well as FAMACHA scoring are essential to managing parasite activity in small ruminants.
Fifteen (15) persons registered for the workshop and 15 attended: 1 ag service provider, 5 extension educators, 7 farmers and 2 students. Six (6) persons completed on-site evaluations: 5 of them reported increase in understanding to considerable following the workshop. Five (5) of the 6 stated they planned to continue to learn about parasite control in pasture, and to work with farmers to use information on their farms.
2nd Field Training Workshop UConn-field-training-Sept-10th-agenda
This workshop focused on body Condition Scoring (BCS) of beef cattle and sheep. The workshop was led by Dr. Scott Morey, DVM from Fenton River Veterinary Hospital in Tolland, CT. Dr. Morey started out the workshop by discussing the importance of BCS and how it can be utilized as a management tool on farms. He also discussed how BCS can aide in determining an animals nutritional status which directly relates to health and well being of the animal. The workshop included instruction on the BCS point system for both animal species and the areas on the animal to evaluate and touch. There was also opportunity for hands on participation by the participants. A videographer was present and two short videos were produced on BCS beef cattle and sheep. The completed videos have now been circulated to the entire Tri-State SARE list, are available on the project website, and are also on the Extension websites of each of the Universities involved in the project. Time was allocated for in the agenda for questions and answers as well as group discussion. Many of the participants took advantage of this time by asking questions and engaging with other participants.
Thirteen (13) persons registered for the workshop and 12 attended: 3 ag service providers; 6 extension educators; and 3 farmers. An additional 25 UConn students attended. Four(4) persons completed on-site evaluations and 3 reported an increase in their understanding of the topics; the 4th reported already knowing about these topics. All reported they would utilize body condition scoring in the future.
3rd Field Training Workshop URI-field-training-Oct-12th-agenda
This workshop focused on BCS goats and pigs as well as forage sampling and analysis. Led by URI’s Farm Manger and the Executive Director of the Northeast Pork Association, the participants learned the importance of BCS and the role it plays in determining the nutritional status of an animal. Participants were taught the techniques of BCS both goats and pigs. There was also opportunity for hands on participation by those who attended. A videographer was present.Two short videos were produced on BCS goats and pigs. These two videos along with the videos on beef cattle and sheep have now been circulated to the entire Tri-State SARE list, are available on the project website, and are also on the Extension websites of each of the Universities involved in the project. Joyce Meader, a dairy and livestock Extension Educator at UConn led the forage sampling and analysis discussion. Participants were shown the methods employed to take a uniform hay sample as well as how and where to send the sample out for analysis. There was also discussion of forage quality and the role it plays in the amount of forage an animal can digest, as a percentage of body weight.
Twenty-one(21) persons registered for the third field workshop and 13 attended: 3 ag service providers, 5 extension educators, and 5 farmers. Six (6) persons completed on-site evaluations: all reported an increase in their understanding of how to perform body condition scoring on pigs and goats. All reported that they had done body condition scoring on their own species and 4 reported that they would be testing forages that they feed.
6. 30 agricultural service providers receive frequent email updates about the project and will be provided with a way to discuss and share questions, challenges, successes and progress towards action steps via an online forum, conference calls or any other mode proven to be effective with the group.
After getting an understanding of how the group wanted to maintain contact in between workshops, the project director created a contact list of those participants so that communication could be maintained via email. The goal was to connect with all those who have participated in any of the classroom or field training workshops. This contact list also included the advisory group. Once established the project director emailed the group on average once per month. Each email contained at least one reference (article, website etc) that directly related to the project.
The first email, sent in July, contained a link to the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute website. This website had some basic sustainability information and contained many examples and ways in which farms can work towards becoming more sustainable. These examples tied in directly with a portion of the group discussion from the 2nd workshop, (June 21st) when the participants spoke about determining how the farmer/farms they work with define sustainability, recognizing that every farm may have a different approach to sustainability.
The second correspondence, sent in August, provided references (articles and a website) for parasite control in small ruminants. This topic was one of the three topics covered in the last classroom workshop (July) of the year and the first field training workshop (August) held at UMass.
Correspondence sent in September provided links to two articles that related to many of the topics discussed this year, including: proper nutrition based on the life stage of the animal, body condition scoring and fetal programming as a result of maternal nutrition. These articles provided a re-cap for those participants who were introduced to the concepts at the workshop(s) and a good introduction for those who may have missed a workshop that related to one of these particular topics.
In October, the project director provided information on two topics, both of which were discussed at the October field training workshop. The first, was a link to a website discussing BCS goats. This information is beneficial to those who weren’t able to attend and those who did attend but may be looking for more information to expand their knowledge and further develop their skills. The second link provided was an article which illustrates the importance of testing forages and what those tests tell you about the forage quality. The importance of testing forages can’t be overlooked, managing your animals nutrition accurately depends upon knowing the quality of forage they are receiving.
In November, the link to the final body condition scoring videos, (filmed during the field training workshops) was made available to the group. There was a total of four videos, each focusing on one of the following animal species: beef cattle, goats, pigs and sheep. The group was encouraged to utilize and share these videos in anyway they see fit. Be it with clients, other farmer friends, or at future workshops they participate in.
Milestones for year 2
1. All participants from the 6 workshops respond to a follow-up survey from the Project Director. Agricultural service providers will report on actions taken to teach and advise farmers using new knowledge and skills from the workshops conducted in year 1 while farmers will report on what meaningful changes they have implemented on their farm. Both are expected to give input about future training needs.
2. The advisory group members provide feedback and advise the project director via conference calls, email communication and telephone calls. This will help to determine the specific training and educational needs of those involved, as it relates to the feedback received in the questionnaire forms filled out at all workshops in year 1 of the project. Topical emphasis, project curricula, project structure and training tools will be discussed. This group will also be consulted throughout the year when feedback on workshops and suggestions for improvement are being solicited.
3. 450 people (agricultural service providers and farmers) receive an announcement describing the classroom workshops planned for year 2 of the Tri-State SARE professional development project; Nutrition's Role in Sustainable Livestock Production Practices. The announcement includes an invitation to provide feedback to the Project Director and the opportunity to register for one or all the workshops. Moving forward throughout year 2, planned workshops will be promoted and advertised on the project website (email@example.com) and with the help of agricultural service provider publications.
4. A series of three half day classroom workshops will be held in a central location. These workshops will allow for the increase of knowledge and skills in livestock nutrition, as it relates to sustainably feeding animals. Specific focus will be on pasture feeding methods, management and infrastructure. 30 participants will attend each classroom workshop. At each workshop, participants will engage in group discussions to generate ideas for teaching and advising farmers about the content learned in the workshop. Agricultural service provider participants will develop at least one action step to help farmers with this area of nutrition, while farmers will be asked to determine what of the concepts learned can apply to their own situation. All participants will also be asked to respond to a questionnaire to assess their learning at the conclusion of each workshop.
5. 450 people (agricultural service providers and farmers) receive an announcement describing the field training workshops planned for year 2 of the Tri-State SARE professional development project; Nutrition's Role in Sustainable Livestock Production Practices. The announcement includes an invitation to provide feedback to the Project Director and the opportunity to register for one or all the workshops. Moving forward throughout year 2, planned workshops will be promoted and advertised on the project website (firstname.lastname@example.org) and with the help of agricultural service provider publications.
6. 30 participants attend at least one of three field training workshops – one to be held in each state - that will highlight the recommended practices taught in the classroom workshops, including grass and weed identification as well as pasture walks and farm tours allowing participants to visually see a variety of feeding methods. This will allow for continued learning and further discussion about the topic and concepts learned in the classroom.
7. 30 participants receive frequent updates about the project and will discuss and share questions, challenges, successes and progress towards action steps via the mode the group has determined will work best.
Milestone Activities and Participation Summary
Educational activities and events conducted by the project team:
|Activity||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|
|Curricula, factsheets or educational tools||4||4|
|Workshop / field days||6||6|
Beneficiaries who particpated in the project’s educational activities and events:
|Audience||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total Individuals|
|Farmers / ranchers||18||0||0||0|
Performance Target Outcomes
Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers
Additional Project Outcomes
In the first year of the project (2017-2018) four short videos were produced on the topic of body condition scoring. The four livestock species that were showcased included: beef cattle, goats, pigs and sheep. The videos were filmed during the field workshops and were created for the educational purposes of agricultural service providers and farmers, alike. Once finalized, the videos were shared with the entire Tri-State SARE listserv as well as each of the Universities involved in the project. About 3 weeks after they had been posted to the University of Connecticut’s Extension YouTube channel, there had been 126 views. Combined, the four videos had over 1,200 twitter impressions in two weeks and reached over 450 people via Facebook. These videos will be useful educational tools for those involved in livestock production in Southern New England. All videos can be viewed at the following link: http://s.uconn.edu/bcs.
Southern New England Livestock Conference – January 28, 2018. Set up a booth to promote NESARE as well as the Tri-State SARE Professional Development Project. Spoke with numerous attendees at this day long event, about the purpose and mission of SARE. 9 attendees opted to add their information to the SARE e-mail list.
CT NOFA Winter Conference – March 10, 2018. Information was available at the trade show, which promoted NESARE and the Tri-State SARE Professional Development project. The dates for the 2018 workshops had yet to be determined at that time, but information included the topics and areas of focus for the 3-year project.
Rhode Island Raised Livestock Annual Meeting – April 9, 2018. Provided outreach support and materials on the Tri-State SARE project for the trade show at the annual meeting. This was done in conjunction with the RI SARE State coordinator, who also handed out the project director’s business cards. There was a lot of interest in the field training workshop that will be held at URI’s Peckham Farm, date at that time was TBD.
CT Farm Bureau Annual Meeting – November 15, 2018. Information was available at the trade show, which promoted NESARE and the Tri-State SARE Professional Development project. A one page promotional flyer, describing the 2019 planned Tri-State workshop topics was available for those who were interested. A sign-up sheet for those who wished to add their contact information to the project listserv was also made available.
Throughout the year the Project Director also worked to connect with and add several other classes of agricultural service providers to the listserv. Teachers from vocational agriculture high schools as well as local feed and farm supply stores throughout CT, MA and RI were provided with information about the Tri-State SARE program. They were encouraged to add their contact information to the project listserv, so that they could be kept abreast of planned workshops.
In a continued effort to reach further potential project participants, the Project Director has reached out to several new and beginning farmer organizations in CT, MA, RI. Organizations such as: New CT Farmers Alliance, Young Farmer Network of Southeastern New England, The Farm School (MA), the Agricultural Business Training Program (MA) and the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project have been very receptive and willing to promote and share the Tri-State project workshops with those involved in their organization.