by Peggy Cole
HMI collaborated with our good friends, TOFGA (Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association), to kick off their 2016 organics conference with an Open Gate on February 11th at Dry Creek Livestock near Terrell, TX. We met in the Rockwall Equine Center for the morning session. Lauri and Dr. David Celella, DVM started the equine veterinary practice in 1982 and have recently added a small animal division. Though David is well known as a horseman, equine vet and accomplished western artist and sculptor; Lauri and their two daughters, Hannah and Abby, have become quite well known in the world of Dorper show sheep.
Although representatives from HMI and TOFGA spoke briefly to the 45 attendees about their respective organizations, this was to be Holistic Management Certified Educator-in-training Lauri Celella’s day to facilitate learning about Holistic Management, especially as it pertains to sheep, goat and cattle selection and management. Lauri briefly explained the Holistic Management principles and practices before drilling down on the decision-testing tool. Using actual decisions from her sheep business, Laurie demonstrated how she put each decision through the testing matrix to evaluate the social, financial and environmental concerns as each affected the family’s holistic goal. The decision whether or not to buy a fine and expensive young ram was carefully put through the matrix. Later, after the ram was purchased, the decision was carefully monitored to see if he was actually improving the flock as the Celella’s hoped. Not only did the young ram show well, his daughters have shown much better than their mamas and bring high prices in the sales.
Dr. Kraig Stemme, veterinarian, breeder of Kiko goats and student of Holistic Management, presented management solutions specific to dealing with the dreaded barber pole worm. He showed slides about the life cycle of the worm and explained management practices that take advantage of the weakest point in the life cycle of the organism to minimize infestation. He presented a technique for infestation assessment called FAMCHA. The Open Gate participants then had the opportunity to get hands on experience matching Dorper sheep eyelid color to the FAMCHA chart with the assistance of Drs. Stemme and Celella.
After lunch, Lauri taught a segment on the Dorper breed and how to select the best individuals. NRCS District Conservationist, Monica Purviance, explained the different assistance programs and answered many questions on each. The whole group walked down to the nearby lambing barn where quite a few newborn lambs came right over to be hugged and pet. Lauri explained some of her management techniques and showed us the now famous expensive ram. We carpooled to the pastures down the road and split into two groups to further explore decision testing and to choose between David Celella’s talk on selecting Devon cattle for grassfed beef or a hayride through the pastures to look at fencing, water innovation and land health.
Evaluations showed the group had an enjoyable day of learning, networking and enjoying a warm sunny day in February. Here are some of their comments:
“It was great!”
“I’d like to see one for pastured pigs”
“The event was great – could have been two days”
“My favorite take-aways were the water system, deworming, seeing the lambs.”
“My favorites were irrigation, grass management, strip grazing”
“The decision testing part is great – we need to look at what we are spending and what profit is.”
“I intend to assess body confirmation for culling purposes.”
“I intend to monitor for more genetically favorable animals.”
The 30 participants who filled out our evaluation of the day represented 5,865 acres in 19 counties in Texas. Their enterprises included cattle (37%), sheep, goats, poultry (7% each), hay, honey and dairy (3% each).
|% of Respondents
|Understands how to better determine and monitor herd health
|Feels more confident in their ability to determine the biological weak link
|Intends to test decisions for your operation as a result of this event
|Intends to biologically monitor your herd/flock as a result of this event
|Intends to change management practices/apply ideas learned in this event
|Would recommend this event to others
|Understands how HM includes ecological, economic and social aspects
|Expanded network by meeting new people or learning about resources available to them
Be sure to check out our Training Page for opportunities to learn more about Holistic Management.