On October 6th our AGRI130 class took a tour of the Fifer’s Family farm and orchard. While on the tour we meet with one of the sons of the farm that take care of all of the fruits and vegetables on the farm, He began to take use on a tour around there whole operation from where they have the u-pick pumpkin patch to the cold fridge where they store there fruits. While on the tour he took use along side one of his strawberry fields that they where planting as we drove by they had a group of 4 on the back of the tractor putting the young plants in the whole where the tractor put holes in the tarp. Also when we went in to the packing shed he was telling use what plants have to stay in which climates after there picked and how they hand check every apple so they make sure everything is top of the line so they can get the most profit. Then to round out the day we went into the store they have and where able to get something from there to end the day.
I was very sad to not be able to attend the field trip to see Georgie Cartanza’s poultry operation. I think it would have been very interesting to see how her operation ran and looked, compared to my poultry operation back at home. After hearing about the field trip I thought it was really cool how Georgie kind of fell into the poultry industry, after working for Perdue. Today, it seems like a lot of producers/farmers usually go into the industry because of family ties. So it was cool to hear that. Also, it was really interesting hear that her one piece of advice for someone who wanted to enter the poultry industry was to take business classes. This particularly stuck out to me because in trying to decide my post high school plans, it was the fact that many farmers in my area strongly encouraged a business education before returning to the farm. So it was really cool to hear that Georgie also recommends this and that it is an important thing to have. Those two pieces of the field trip were what stuck out to me the most. Despite not actually being there, it sounded like Georgie runs a top notch operation!
On November 4th, my class had the privilege of meeting the University of Delaware’s Newark farms superintendent, Scott Hopkins, who led the tour for us. We started the tour with an introduction to the dairy herd that supplies us our beloved UDairy ice cream. Scott Hopkins explained that the dairy herd was the most difficult and time consuming livestock on the farm due to the amount labor, time and research that goes into the herd. I found it really interesting to see how feed studies were conducted on a herd within by the use of ID collars that would sync with a specific feed bin that granted that specific cow access to its feed. This practice helps to conclude that technology plays a major role in livestock production. We then moved onto the poultry section of the farm where he explained to us why there were so many small shed-like houses. These are used for testing immunology and virolity amongst small flocks of birds. I think that this field of research is so fascinating and important, especially since the poultry industry is huge to the Delmarva area. Next, we ventured to Webb Farm where we learned about the beef management practices, equine practices, as well as the sheep practices. Currently, the farm is tracking estrous in the ewes and are monitoring breedings and whether or not the ewes take. They track this by recording which ewes have the color coded chalk on their backs – marking a mounting by the ram – and crossing the presence of chalk with their estrous cycles. Scott was very informational and provided a lot of insight into how much work really goes into running a successful farming operation. He was well versed and had a tremendously wide amount of knowledge. I learned a lot on this trip and I hope to continue learning more about management practices throughout my time here at the University of Delaware
This past Saturday was our last field trip that I, unfortunately, could not make it to. But, fortunately, I have been to the Webb Farm many times in many other classes over the past 3 years. The dairy, beef, sheep, chicken, and horse facilities are great for research and learning about the different livestock used today. My freshman year I was fortunate to be in a class that allowed us to visit every building and learn about each. I heard that the superintendent, Scott Hopkins, mentioned that the dairy cows are the most challenging animal to care for on the farm. It is very labor intensive to control such a large herd let alone milk them twice a day. They are also put on feed trails to conduct studies on how diet affects their milk production and even how pregnancy affects their diet and milk production. The beef cattle are also great for research and for studying the effect of being fed more grass rather than grain. The sheep facility is the most interesting to me because before coming to the University I had no previous exposure to sheep. It is very cool to know they use crayons on the females for mating to see when the sheep are in heat. They are very much herd animals that are hard to separate. My favorite part of the farm is the horses. They are very interesting animals that can even stop birth if they think the conditions are not right. Not only are they accident prone, but they are very versatile to use for things like therapeutic riding, and even weight pulling. I’m very grateful to be able to attend a university with such great resources close enough to walk to.
On the 23rd of September, we went to have a tour of Fifer Orchards located in Camden-Wyoming, Delaware. This +2,500 acre farm is a fourth generation family run farm. Bobby Fifer gave us a tour of the farm along with going out in the fields to look at the different types of irrigation systems they have in the fields ( center pivot irrigation and drip irrigation) As well as being showed the fields and where the fruit and produce was being grown we got a chance to look in the packaging and distribution center and how each of the items is processed to enter our local stores and businesses. One extremely interesting thing that I found out while on the farm was that the orchard ships all up and down the east coast and east of the Mississippi River! This is beyond incredible especially for us being such a small state. Another thing that I found to be interesting was that there is a program called the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this is where the farm puts together pre-paid boxes of produce and have drop-off locations for families to pick up produce. This is more effective that farmers market because there is little to no product waste. Whereas at farmers markets you can run out of produce and make the customer upset or you can bring to much of a certain product and then have leftovers which would have to be thrown away. Fifer’s Orchard always has events and activities going on each weekend. This week was the kick off to their fall fest and there were so many games for kids and vendors for shopping. They also had their shop open which had the BEST Apple CIder Slushies! This was by far one of my favorite field trips and will definitely be visiting them soon again
Our visit to Georgie Cartanza’s organic poultry farm helped to dispel for me some myths about the poultry business. After visiting her farm, I described the size of the chicken houses and the amount of chickens to some of my friends and asked them how many people they thought worked on the farm. Everyone was shocked to hear there were only two other employees. The ability to control feed, water, and temperature through the use of technology was very impressive. I also noticed there did not seem to be any strong odor emanating from the chicken house. Documentaries can often portray the business in a negative light; I will admit I thought these bigger birds had to have been injected with growth hormones which is simply not true. Rather, the improvements in diet, technology, and selective breeding enable farmers like Georgie to produce more meat with fewer birds.