By Brittany Smith, Ag & Food Systems major, Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Class of 2022
Over the past several years, New Jersey has had an increase in the number of backyard and small farm livestock owners. Along with the rise in residents raising animals such as chickens, sheep and goats, is the need for providing education and resources to this group.
On March 21, 2019 the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Board of Managers sponsored a Livestock Summit at the Rutgers EcoComplex in Bordentown, NJ. There were 49 people in attendance from many different areas of livestock, from small backyard farms to medium-size farms.
Speakers and topics of the evening included: NJAES senior associate director Brian Schilling gave an overview of the Experiment Station. Hank Bignell, agriculture and natural resource program coordinator, Cooperative Extension of Warren County, spoke about his background and expertise in livestock. One of the main speakers that evening was Sebastian Reist, principal veterinarian, New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA), Division of Animal Health. Reist spoke on different diseases and parasites that could be potentially hazardous to our livestock in his talk “Swine, Small Ruminants and Fowl.” Dan Wunderlich, dairy administrator from the NJDA Division of Marketing and Development spoke on a big issue in our state, “Livestock Processing.” He spoke on some of what they learned at their Livestock Processing Summit hosted by NJDA in January, where they are and what they are looking forward to in the future. Mike Westendorf, NJAES extension specialist in livestock and dairy spoke on “Pasture Management.” Peter Furey, executive director of the New Jersey Farm Bureau spoke on “Small Farm Advocacy.” The final segment of the evening followed with a listening session hearing what the people in attendance needs and interests were.
Overall the evening went very well and the people in attendance walked away with new information and those who put the program on had a clearer path for the future to help our livestock farmers with potential programs and seminars.
In addition to their goal of providing education to this audience, Tracy Smith, chair of the Board of Managers Livestock Committee, said “we also wanted to begin the process of putting together a list of these people so that if there was ever an outbreak or information that would need to get out to people, there would be an avenue.”
The Board of Managers is an advisory group to the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, made up of representatives from New Jersey’s county boards of agriculture. The Board also serves as advocate for the experiment station and provides input to NJAES’ directors on matters concerning the state’s agricultural enterprise.