Mapleton Organic Dairy and Prince Edward County

Today I was going to have a day off but was asked by Ruth Knight to meet her at Mapleton’s Organic Farm. It was on my way to Prince Edward County so was an ideal stop for lunch.

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Ruth had organised for me to meet Gayl Creutzberg, a 2013 Canadian Nuffield Scholar at Mapleton’s. So once I had found it we had a look around the farm. Mapleton’s is an organic dairy farm but is also a farm open to the public with animals for children to see.

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The farm is open to schools and tries to encourage visitors. They also produce their own yoghurt and ice cream. There luckily was also a cafe for lunch. Martin the owner is Dutch and came over to Canada in the 90’s and started Mapleton’s. They now have 60 cows which are milked by a robotic milker

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They were installing a second robot while we were there. The second robot will increase output and allow them to expand to 70 cows. All the cows will be able to be milked three times a day whereas now they are only averaging 2.4.

The cows looked very relaxed. Their feeding rails were flexible and made of soft plastic to prevent rubbing on the cows.

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They also had a cow massager which this cow was thoroughly enjoying

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The cows have access to the pastures but decide to spend the day inside and go outside in the evening. Martin tries to grow his own feed. He grows Corn which has been a bit of a disaster this year as it has been so wet but his crop of peas and oats looked excellent

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Oats love cool and wet weather something they have had plenty of! We had a nice lunch in the cafe chatting with Gayl and Ruth and then we all had to be on our way. Thanks to Ruth for organising this visit.

After lunch I drove to Prince Edward County to see Becky Parker a 2015 Canadian Scholar. She lives in a beautiful part of Ontario

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We went down to the beach for a paddle in Lake Ontario. Chris Padfield decided to go for a swim and do his James Bond Impression.

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Unfortunately the Ursula Andress was no where to be seen coming out of the water. I had a great evening with Becky and Chris. It was good to catch up on fellow scholars stories and what they have been doing “out and about”.

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Chris Knight, Highgate, Ontario – 7th July 2015

Chris Knight is a teacher who moonlights as a farmer or the other way around I am not sure!

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I managed to get invited with Woody to visit Chris through Ruth Knight ( no relation) who is an Organic Consultant with whom I was put in contact with by Lucas Criswell in Pennsylvania three weeks ago. Chris is a proponent of mob grazing with his Angus cattle.

The idea is that you allow the grass to come to seed head before you allow the cows to graze. The idea is that the longer the grass is the longer the roots are. Also you only let the cows graze the top of the plant with all the sugar and they trample the rest.

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The cows are fenced into a narrow strip and are moved everyday.

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This strip was grazed the day before, this end is where the water trough is so was trampled more.

Then below is where it was grazed 10 days ago. image

As you can see the re growth is very quick. Chris tries to graze each section every 42 days and each strip will be grazed 3-4 times a year. This system means he has tripled the forage compared to rotational grazing. He has increased his soil OM to 4%, which on this light sand is excellent

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Chris bale grazes over winter. The calves are finished on a nearby farm before being direct marketed to local businesses. The cattle seemed very relaxed and happy. They will mostly feed at night and ruminate during the day. Chris seems to have his system down to a fine art and manages to have 70 cows and calves on 50 acres all year with another small part down to hay. He spends less than an hour a day looking after the cows.

Chris was finding that he was losing customers as he could not supply organic pork too. So now he has started with hogs

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These pigs have access to the outside. He also had chickens upstairs. I found the morning with Chris fascinating, which my father would find funny that I enjoyed looking at cows! Chris’s system has increased his soil health dramatically and he had to spend very little time with the cows daily to achieve that. So he has soil health and good lifestyle.

Well done Chris