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Holy Cow! Calf Naming Rights Go for $1,275

By Beth Potier,, Media Relations
January 10, 2007

© Lisa Nugent, UNH Photo Services. "Charley"

[Ed. Note: To see a video of Charley and the UNH organic research dairy farm, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4HuoItffZc.]

A family trio from Stonyfield Farm in Londonderry has donated $1,275 through an eBay auction for naming rights to UNH’s first-born organic heifer. The winning bidders – Stonyfield Farm President and CE-Yo Gary Hirshberg, his wife Meg, and Nancy Hirshberg, Stonyfield vice president of natural resources (and Gary’s sister) – named the heifer Charley.

Born Dec. 12, 2006 to mother May, Charley joins the herd of Jerseys at the organic research dairy farm, which is the first at a U.S. university.

“We are proud to name the first calf born at the UNH organic research dairy farm ‘Charley,’ after Chuck Schwab, who has been a tireless advocate in the effort to bring organic dairy teaching and research to UNH students and the state’s dairy industry. He is a true public servant, having dedicated his entire career to learning and research,” said Gary Hirshberg.

Schwab, professor of animal and nutritional sciences, has championed and spearheaded the organic research dairy project.

The Hirshbergs are no strangers to the organic research dairy farm. Stonyfield Farm made a leadership gift of $200,000 to launch the project and a second $250,000 challenge grant, providing UNH an opportunity to raise an additional $250,000.

On Monday, farmers, faculty, funders – and several dozen doe-eyed Jerseys – gathered at the Burley-Demeritt Farm to mark milestones at the university’s new organic dairy research farm. While the gala was decidedly low-key, with guests sitting on hay bales wearing plastic shoe covers, the mood was celebratory.

“As we celebrate the organic dairy today it is clear that the land grant mission is alive and well at UNH,” said Interim President J. Bonnie Newman. “We have made a commitment to the organic dairy community, including first and foremost, farmers, but also producers, retailers and citizens. Our commitment will help to fill the void in urgently needed science based research on organic production.”

The event was the first major public unveiling of the organic dairy project, which was launched a year ago with the acquisition of 48 Jersey heifers. Since then, the university has raised $1.2 million of the $1.8 million total budget for the farm; nearly half the herd has given birth and the rest will calve in the coming months; a new farm equipment building and milking parlor have been constructed and maternity and calf barns have been renovated; and milk has been certified organic.

In addition to Newman, speakers included Gary Hirshberg and several major donors to the project: Kelly Shea, vice president of organic stewardship at Horizon Organic in Broomfield, Colo., which gave $350,000; and Marc Peperzak, chairman and CEO of Aurora Organic Dairy in Boulder, Colo., a $200,000 donor.

“You folks have done something ... I don’t know why it wasn’t done before, but I hope it’s copied elsewhere,” said Peperzak.

Ed Maltby, executive director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA), spoke about the growing demand for organic dairy in the marketplace and the growing need for research among farmers.

“Conventional dairy is difficult to make profitable, especially for the family farmer,” he said. “Organic dairy can be the answer for a lot of farms.”

A late but very welcome addition to the speaking program was Schwab. The event marked Schwab’s fourth trip outside the home since his open-heart surgery before Christmas.

“What a great day,” said Schwab, who received a standing ovation. “This is an event that I would not have missed.”

Following formal remarks, the guests toured the dairy’s facilities. The new milking parlor and even four cows in labor failed to draw the crowd away from the calves, all born within the past month. Gary Hirshberg and his sister Nancy Hirshberg met Charley. Organic Valley of LaFarge, Wis., presented President Newman and her namesake calf, Bonnie, with a custom calf coat.

The farm will begin shipping organic milk to the marketplace later in January and will become self-sustaining. It will be managed as an integrated, complete farm unit where changes in management practices can be monitored and their impact on farm profitability measured.

The organic dairy farm initiative is part of the university’s larger and long-term

For more information, go to www.organicdairy.unh.edu.

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