The Organic Dairy Research Farm, UNHThe Organic Dairy Research Farm, a facility of the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire, has taken home the gold for outstanding milk quality, receiving a 2017 Gold Quality Award from the Organic Valley Cooperative.Photo courtesy of the University of New HampshireDURHAM, N.H. – The Organic Dairy Research Farm, a facility of the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire, has taken home the gold for outstanding milk quality, receiving a 2017 Gold Quality Award from the Organic Valley Cooperative.

“Our Organic Dairy Research Farm produces some of the highest quality organic milk in the country,” said Jon Wraith, director of the NH Agricultural Experiment Station and dean of the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. “This is a testament to the exceptional dedication and commitment of our dairy manager, staff, and students who carefully care for our herd and ensure our cows are among the healthiest in the nation.”

The award is designed to honor organic dairy farmers who produce milk of the highest quality. Nominees are evaluated on their systems of monitoring udder health, milking routine, protocols for detection and treatment of clinical and subclinical cases, treatment protocols, and strategies for overall herd health and welfare.

In the last year, the Organic Dairy Research Farm has increased organic milk production by nearly 127,000 pounds as a result of management practices implemented by the farm’s new manager, Ryan Courtright. A dairy farmer originally from Pennsylvania, Courtright began managing the farm in last April. In addition to improving management practices, he also has reduced feed costs at the farm.

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To receive the Gold Quality Award, the organic dairy achieved an average somatic cell count of less than 100,000. Dairy herds with a low somatic cell count tend to be more profitable herds since they have reduced treatment and veterinary costs for mastitis, which is the most common and costliest disease for dairy cattle, higher milk production per cow, and higher milk quality premiums.

As a result of receiving the award, UNH is paid the highest price for its organic milk—called quality premiums. Milk from the organic dairy goes to the Organic Valley Cooperative, America's largest cooperative of organic farmers, representing more than 2,000 organic farms in 34 states, Canada and Australia.

The Organic Dairy Research Farm, first of its kind at a land-grant university, is home to about 100 registered Jersey cows, heifers, and calves and is managed as an integrated agro-ecosystem that includes the biological, physical, and human-related components. A primary focus of the farm is to undertake relevant research to serving the organic dairy community. Areas of study include dairy nutrition and feeds, pasture quality, forage production, compost production, and management of the associated streams, soils, woodlands, and other natural resources.

Founded in 1887, the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture is UNH’s original research center and an elemental component of New Hampshire's land-grant university heritage and mission. 

The University of New Hampshire is a flagship research university that inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top ranked programs in business, engineering, law, liberal arts, and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. UNH’s research portfolio includes partnerships with NASA, NOAA, NSF, and NIH, receiving more than $100 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea, and space.