Blog

Explore the work we are doing, told through the stories of the people who make up the Wolfe's Neck community.
What Does Seaweed and Cows have in common?
Earlier this year, our cows here at Wolfe’s Neck Center were part of a research initiative to fight climate change. Half of our milking herd were given a local seaweed variety in their diet to measure the impacts of that local seaweed on the amount of methane the cow produces. WNC and project partners will be continuing this work over the next 5 years!
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FitBits for Cows: Our New SenseHub Dairy Activity Monitors
Our cows got some new bling! The SenseHub Dairy activity monitors give our dairy team real-time updates and measurements, helping them to track both cow and herd health as closely as possible. The dairy team uses the monitors to record the herd’s daily movements across Wolfe’s Neck’s pastures, track their dairy production, notify best breeding time for each cow, monitor their digestion, and observe overall health measurements like respiration. 
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How We Feed Our Cows Over Winter
As we all enjoyed the warmer weather back in May, our Dairy team was already looking towards the winter months as they prepared bales of hay that would feed our cows. As the weather gets colder, we move our cows into the dairy barn to keep them warm and cozy. But, with less ample opportunities to graze, we feed our herd with the hay we bale throughout the winter season.
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Celebrating OpenTEAM’s Second Anniversary
This October, we are celebrating OpenTEAM’s second anniversary! Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management was founded in 2019, by Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, Stonyfield, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s LandPKS. Based here at the farm, OpenTEAM is a farmer-driven, collaborative community of farmers, ranchers, scientists, researchers, technologists, farm service providers, and food companies who are co-creating an interoperable suite of tools that provide farmers around the world with the best possible knowledge to improve soil health. 
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Meet Our New Dairy Grazing Apprentice
Originally from the great state of Connecticut, I've lived on two continents, traveled in four; but, I keep coming back to Maine and its irreplaceable mountains, forests, and seacoasts. A graduate of the University of Southern Maine, I've taught many subjects and both at home and abroad. This time, it's my turn to be taught again.
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New England Dairy Farmers Face Uncertainty
Wolfe’s Neck Center was disappointed to learn of Danone North America’s decision to end the contracts of 89 organic milk producers in New England, including 14 family farms in Maine. Danone, which operates the Horizon Organic brand, recently decided to move away from New England as part of a cost-cutting consolidation. This blow will have devasting effects on Maine’s organic dairy sector, as well as other economic implications across the region. It is disheartening to think of the potential consequences on these farms’ soils, which have been managed for biodiversity and carbon health.  
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A Ride to the Past
On Saturday, September 18, 2021 I hopped aboard the history wagon ride offered through Wolfe’s Neck Center’s community & visitor programs, hoping to learn more about the history of this land and its people. In my communications role on Wolfe’s Neck Center’s team, it is my responsibility to help tell the stories of the current-day farm, but of course, so much of the present has deep ties to our past. 
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MAPSS Annual Field Workshop
MAPSS recently held their annual field workshop at Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment, so we tagged along to see what they were up to! Forty members and soil scientists descended on the property to assess soil pits that had been excavated in our pastures, in our campground, and in Wolfe's Neck State Park. The workshop focused on soil parent materials, human-altered or human-transported materials, and hydric soil characteristics and determinations. 
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Meet the Newest Member of OpenTEAM
Sienna Zuco joins us in the role of OpenTEAM's Communications & Membership Coordinator. This new role will help share OpenTeam's work and vision to Wolfe's Neck Center's audiences and beyond. Growing up in North Carolina, Sienna felt lucky to be surrounded by local foods, good southern cooking, and such a beautiful environment. She lived just a few hours from both the beach and the mountains; two of the things she has found in Maine thus far, and then some! 
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“Why Did You Move to Maine?”
Ben Gotschall, Wolfe's Neck Center's dairy and livestock manager, made the trek from Nebraska to Maine in November 2020. Soon after, he was joined by his wife, Tammy, and their daughter, Charlotte. In May 2021, his herd of cattle made the 1,800-mile journey to Freeport, as well. In a piece written for Field Notes, our annual print and online newsletter, Ben shared his thoughts on what the relocation meant for him, his family, and his cows. 
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Earlier this year, our cows here at Wolfe’s Neck Center were part of a research initiative to fight climate change. Half of our milking herd were given a local seaweed variety in their diet to measure the impacts of that local seaweed on the amount of methane the cow produces. Wolfe’s Neck Center and project partners will be continuing this work over the next 5 years!

We had our project launch for our Coast-Cow-Consumer Project (C3) in late October. With support from the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and the Organic Research and Extension Initiative, this project will research and develop a seaweed additive for cattle feed to reduce methane emissions from cows. 

Bigelow Laboratory is leading the project with a focus on the seaweed varieties and compounds that could contribute to methane suppression. The University of Vermont is testing the impacts of seaweed in mock cow rumens. These fermentation chambers mimic the impact of seaweed on a real cow rumen! University of New Hampshire, William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, and Wolfe’s Neck Center will be trialing the seaweed supplements on our dairy herds. We will assess the impact on methane emitted through burps, milk production, milk quality, manure and soil health. Partners at Colby College, Syracuse University and the University of Vermont are conducting economic analyses on the seaweed and milk supply chain. Clarkson University is conducting a full greenhouse gas life cycle assessment to ensure that the seaweed additives suppress more methane than produced in growing, processing and shipping. 

Wolfe’s Neck Center is thrilled to continue this research. Our next round of on-farm trials with our herd will begin in 2023. Stay tuned for more updates!

A video about methane emissions from cows and more information can be found here on Bigelow Laboratory’s website.

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