The Crop Dairy Livestock Committee members of University of Massachusetts Amherst Extension selected Robert and Martha Richardson in Warren as the Massachusetts 2006 Outstanding Dairy Farm. The Richardsons will be honored at the Green Pastures Awards Banquet to be held September 15 at the Big E. They honored on along with the honorees from the other New England States. The Green Pastures Award Program is in its 58th year and recognizes outstanding dairy farm management, forage crop management, and for leadership in the agricultural industry.
The Rocky Acres Farm is located atop the picturesque hills of the town of Warren and adjacent to the Quaboag River. At an elevation of over 1000 ft, every field on the farm offers a view and of the surrounding countryside. Bob Richardson is the second generation to farm the property, and has been operating the farm since 1976. The farm is a grassed based operation and Bob is practices rotational grazing and seasonal milking on this family run farm. "Rotational grazing was a practice that has evolved on our farm" Bob says. When the farm was purchased the land had been used for corn. With wet autumns and rising prices, baleage, worked very successfully. "We then realized that the cows could harvest their own grass even more efficiently than we could." With that success, it took seven years to change the herd to over seasonal production. "The break in January and February provides us with catch up time. Calving is mostly in March and April, before the field chores are in full swing, so our calves and moms get most of our attention and they are put out to graze on the highest quality spring grass."
The pastoral system consists of 100 acres of grass hay and 60 acres of pasture. Bob is involved in almost all farming operation and their son Brian oversees of most all of the breeding program and helps with maintenance at the farm. Martha is working as medical technologist at the local hospital, but that doesn't prevent her from lending help with field work including mowing hay, and all the paperwork and financial tasks.
Bob has been a past Director of the Worcester County Farm Bureau, and member of the Worcester County 4-H Center Committee. Marty has been a 4-H leader and volunteer for 30 plus years, as well as past chairperson of the Worcester County 4-H Advisory Board. The Richardsons are current farmer representatives from Massachusetts to the Northeast Pasture Consortium. They have also been recipients of quality milk awards from AgriMark. This family takes pride in their farm operation, and are well deserving of this award.