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Corralling Conservation in Virginia

Most people aren’t aware that there’s an urgent need for stronger, safer, more portable livestock corrals. But when your work revolves around increasing farm productivity, soil health, and animal welfare for livestock producers in Central Virginia, like American Farmland Trust’s Jacob Gilley, you see things other people don’t.  

Gilley heads AFT’s Virginia Sustainable Grazing Project, which has identified that effective corrals are critically important for both seasoned and beginning cattle farmers. Portable corrals are also beneficial for producers interested in establishing cover crops on fields that are set to be sustainably grazed, since cover crops provide an economical source of highly nutritious forage for livestock.   

But unfortunately, corrals are not often located in or even near crop fields. And many farmers in the Virginia counties of Rappahannock, Madison, Culpeper, Fauquier, and Orange are working with old, worn out corrals or leasing land with no facilities at all. Farmers working on rented land especially may struggle to find the time or incentive to construct effective facilities without a long-term lease agreement in place.  

To remedy this issue, AFT’s Sustainable Grazing Project is now offering producers a cost-effective opportunity to rent the OK Portable Corral. This corral is extremely easy to set up and can be completely unfolded by one person in less than 15 to 20 minutes. The portable corral is a perfect piece of equipment to load unruly livestock onto trailers, funnel them into squeeze chutes for vaccinations, capturing weights, or determining pregnancy status. 

The corral can be rented by producers in the five previously listed counties of Virginia for up to a week at a time, to ensure adequate access throughout the region, but additional days can be added pending current demand. The small rental cost will be used to cover routine repair and maintenance of equipment with discounts offered to producers who can provide proof of a Nutrient Management or Grazing Management Plan which can be acquired for free with assistance from your local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) or Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Discounts are also available for producers with Beef Quality Assurance Certification, which can be completed for free at https://www.bqa.org/beef-quality-assurance-certification/online-certifications 

AFT is extremely excited to offer local producers this great opportunity to use its portable corral to improve the safety, sustainability, and profitability of their operations. To determine available dates for reserving the corral, or for further information on the Virginia Sustainable Grazing Project, please contact the Mid-Atlantic Sustainable Grazing ManagerJacob Gilley, at (540) 219-5015 or at jgilley@farmland.org. 

About the Author
Jamie Mierau

Mid-Atlantic Regional Director

jmierau@farmland.org

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