A Center for Environmental Farming Systems

Eastern North Carolina Beef Cattle Project


What is the CEFS?

CEFS is "a Center for Environmental Farming Systems," located on the Cherry Hospital Farm near Goldsboro, NC. The center conducts both crop and livestock production, and is divided into three major components;

  1. the organic component,
  2. the no-till component and
  3. the central whole farm demonstration project.

The livestock units are contained within this third component, commonly referred to as the "sustainable unit." Major projects are currently under way at the sustainable unit, including the development of a grazing dairy, an integrated cropping system project, development of a new technology approach to managing swine house effluent, and a beef cow/calf demonstration project. The waste products generated by the swine unit will be integrated into the beef project, and growing calves will also be used as a part of the integrated cropping systems project.


What is Sustainability?

Sustainability has been, and will continue to be, the central goal for agricultural systems. If agriculture is to be maintained long-term, our production systems must be considered renewable natural resources. The resource base must not be significantly degraded as a result of production. By definition, to be sustainable a system should:

  1. be profitable,
  2. have minimal environmental impact,
  3. be socially beneficial, and
  4. be managed with the well-being of future generations in mind.

The challenge is sorting out which practices enhance sustainability, and which ones compromise it. We are only beginning to identify "sustainable practices" and most need to be carefully evaluated at the farm scale. The CEFS project is the first of its kind in the southeast devoted to looking at agriculture at the systems level.


Mission of the Eastern North Carolina Beef Cattle Project

The goal of our project is to develop a coastal plain beef cow/calf production system that maximizes profitability while minimizing purchased inputs, and has an acceptable impact on the environment. The main objective is to demonstrate to beef producers and other clientele how efficiently beef cattle can be produced in eastern NC, when the production system is intensively managed. There is no one site that incorporates all our common recommendations in a production system with high accessability to farmers, extension agents and students. Our system will be based on intensively managed pastures, and the management system will continually evolve, to correct for common recommendations that prove unmanageable at the farm scale, and to allow for the incorporation of new, research proven technologies. An advisory committee of faculty, producers and industry personnel will provide guidance to the project, and will set priorities for applied research projects to evaluate components that may be used in the system. Where possible, applied research will be conducted within the setting of our operating system.


Our Land and Herd

The beef unit is composed of 175 acres of land that has marginal value for crop production. The pasture system will be composed of a mixture of warm and cool season forages with controlled grazing management. We anticipate maintaining a winter calving 125 cow herd, which is currently composed of medium frame commercial-crossbred cows.

Key components currently considered to be "best management practices" that will be demonstrated are:

Long-term evaluation of the system will be conducted and will include:

How will farmers be involved in the project?


For more information on this project contact:

Matt Poore, PhD
Department of Animal Science
College of Ag and Life Science
Box 7621 Raleigh, NC 27695-7621
Phone: 919-515-7798

Jim Green, PhD
Department of Crop Science
College of Ag and Life Science
Box 7620 Raleigh, NC 27695-7620
Phone: 919-515-5820
Glenn Rogers, MS, DVM
Department of Food Animal and Equine Medicine College of Veterinary Medicine
Box 8401 Raleigh, NC 27695-8401
Phone: 919-829-4232
Eddie Pitzer
Center for Environmental Farming Systems
NC Department of Agriculture Box 8000
Cherry Hospital Goldsboro, NC 27530
Phone: 919-731-3270


Supported by:

North Carolina State University

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
North Carolina A&T State University
School of Agriculture
North Carolina Department of Agriculture
The Beef Producers of North Carolina
last modified by forageweb, january 1999