Cows and sheep usually graze in open fields. But at Fiddle Creek Dairy in Pennsylvania, cows graze among wide rows of trees.
Austin Unruh is owner and founder of a company called Trees for Graziers. He helped the dairy plant about 3,000 trees across 25 acres of pasture.
The approach is called silvopasture, and it helps the farmer and the environment.
“Most of the farms that we work with have a real need for additional shade,” Unruh says.
So he selects fast-growing trees and positions them so that they’ll provide dappled shade to keep livestock cool in summer. And he plants species that provide food for the animals, too.
“Honey locust will drop a sugar-rich pod, and a persimmon will drop a sugar-rich fruit during the later part of the season — so November, December, January, those timeframes … when additional feed is really needed,” Unruh says.
On some farms, the trees even provide new crops such as chestnuts or walnuts to supplement a farmer’s income.
And silvopasture is good for the climate, too. As the trees grow, they absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere.
So by integrating more trees into their pastures, farmers can help their cows and the climate stay cool.
Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media