Last Updated on September 2, 2022 by Danielle McDonald
Silvopasture Systems Help Reduce Heat Stress in Livestock
According to research by a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Graduate Student Grant, silvopasture (the integration and maintenance of livestock and trees) can increase animal welfare and reduce stress from long exposure to high temperatures.
Sanjok Poudel, a Virginia Tech University graduate student, and John Fike, an agroforestry specialist used cortisol biomarkers to determine stress levels in Katahdin sheep raised in silvopasture systems with honey locust and black walnut silvopasture and open-range pastures. The researchers found that open-range pasture ewes had higher body temperatures (0.9-1.8% hotter than silvopasture animals).
Open pasture ewes spent more time sitting or lounging than silvopasture ewes, which indicates that they were trying to reduce heat stress. An animal’s behavior and health can be affected by prolonged heat stress.
Researchers also discovered that cortisol levels could be measured using hair samples, rather than blood samples. This was an easier way to measure stress in animals. The collection of hair samples is much less difficult than collecting blood samples. Blood samples require restraint, and can lead to an increase in animal stress. Because it is not affected by handling or restraint of animals during sampling, hair cortisol can reflect long-term stress levels in animals.
Virginia Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education is a program that promotes professional development. It is sponsored by the Southern Region SARE and coordinated by Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. Our collective efforts are to provide a professional development program that improves the state’s environmental, social and economic sustainability. We focus on the most pressing issues in the state, including soil health and the regional food system. Over $4 million has been awarded to Virginia’s Extension faculty, researchers, producers, and community groups for 83 projects. These projects use science-based techniques to increase on-farm sustainability and produce sales.
You can also read more about Farm Certifications – SARE Southern.
- $6.4 million in funding since 1988
- 132 projects funded since 1988
Professional Development Program
In each state, agricultural educators work directly alongside farmers and ranchers to promote sustainable agriculture production and marketing. SARE state agricultural coordinators offer support in sustainable agriculture education and outreach strategies through a program called “The Professional Development Program” (PDP).
The Sustainable Agriculture Fellows Program is offered by SARE and NACAA. It enhances Cooperative Extension staff’s knowledge of sustainable agriculture and gives them broad-based national exposure to unique and successful sustainable agriculture programs.
SARE State Coordinators play a vital role in expanding sustainable agriculture training for Extension, NRCS and other agricultural professionals. This will help producers transition to a more sustainable farming system.
Extension Specialist, Community Viability
Email | (540) 432-6029 Ext: 106
Extension Specialist, Greenhouse
Virginia State University
Email | (804) 524-5834
You can see more Farm Grants for Females elsewhere on this website.