Â As we grow our business at Farmhand Foods, we continue to increaseÂ the number of farmers Â Â Â Â involved in our producer network.Â We look for a lot of things when evaluating potential producers Â â€“ experience managing pastures, finishing animals for wholesale markets, and raising healthy Â animals using humane practices.Â We are particularly excited to find farmers who are interested in Â learning new practices and techniques.Â Late last year, Judy Frank, one of our Â local beef Â producers, attended a hands-on workshop for â€œWomen Cattle Producersâ€ sponsored by Â NC State & Â the NC Cattlemenâ€™s Association focused on cattle handling, pasture management, and cattle Â health and calving.Â The group was limited to 30 women so everyone got to move animals through a chute and practice giving vaccinations.Â Hereâ€™s what Judy had to say about the experience.
â€œAs a farm owner, I feel like I intuitively know a lot about working calmly with our animals. And Iâ€™m familiar with the techniques described by Temple Grandin, who has done so much research about low stress cattle handling. But I was thrilled to learn about an entirely new and very simple tool to use with cattle, which I can only describe as a â€œcow pacifier.â€ Â Even when a cow is confined by a head gate, for instance for vaccinating or ear-tagging, it will calmly suck on this giant J shaped bar with a ball on the end.Â Somehow, the cow focuses on that, rather than anything else.Â I canâ€™t wait to try that on our farm! Â (Some of you may recognize this tool or have it around the house for trigger point massage!).Â
I also learned about a simple forage testing tool, which can be borrowed from our local extension service. Itâ€™s a tube that can be inserted into hay bales to extract core samples, which can then be evaluated (like a soil sample) for protein and minerals. Then there are pretty straightforward calculations to determine how much and which grasses and hays from your farm are most appropriate to feed during the winter.
Iâ€™d recommend the workshop to any woman involved in raising or selling beef.Â We each went home with a large notebook of information to use for reference.Â Itâ€™s not quite an NC State degree in Animal Science, but maybe the next best thing!â€