Experts Talk Keys to Profitable Silvopasture

Author: Paul Post | Published: October 6, 2017

Silvopasture can be a valuable tool for maximizing forage quality while benefiting livestock and generating income from woodlands.

But achieving such goals requires careful planning, attention to detail and lots of hard work. These were the main points covered in a well-attended silvopasture session at the Sept. 27-29 Grassfed Exchange, which brought together more than 500 farm and ranch owners from throughout the U.S.

The event, held at The Desmond Hotel in Albany, was highlighted by farm tours in New York’s Capital Region, plus a trade show, numerous networking opportunities and a variety of presentations, including “Keys to Profitable Silvopasture Systems.”


“The theme of this conference is regenerative agriculture, getting fertility back into the land,” said Joe Orefice, a Cornell Extension specialist. “Silvopasture is the ultimate way of doing that.”

Orefice is a former Connecticut state forester and is chairman of the Society of American Foresters National Agroforestry Working Group. He raises beef cattle on his 76-acre North Branch Farm in Saranac, near Lake Placid, in the Adirondacks.

In contrast to open grassland, silvopasture gives animals a place to graze among trees. In summer, cows seek out shady spots to keep cool, which reduces animal stress. But they can eat at the same time.

In winter, trees provide shelter from cold and wind.

“It’s an outdoor living barn,” Orefice said. “Silvopasture can be a component of your farm. It doesn’t have to be the whole farm.”