Thursday, August 28, 2008

Forage Strategies

The bermudagrass we cut yesterday was pretty good in spots, and should yield out a fair amount. We already have more hay rolled than we did last summer, and will be adding yesterday's cutting to that number (and will probably have another cutting in late Sept. on approx. 35 acres). Despite the increase, we've still have several plans and options for feeding our herd from now through next summer:
  • As of today we'll start feeding our milking herd lupin baleage. We have enough to last about 35 days, by which time we should have a good idea about whether or not lupin is a crop we should continue to grow.
  • After we feed all of the lupin, we'll be going back to ryegrass baleage and then our wheat/oak baleage. We should have enough total baleage to get us well into the fall.
  • Our 20 acres of BMR sudex and 55 acres of forage sorghum will be ready to harvest in September. Originally we planned on making baleage out of the sudex and chopping the sorghum, but I think we're going to go ahead and chop both crops and pack it into a silage pit.
  • We have roughly 80 acres of cropland we haven't planted this summer that we'll use for our cool season forages. We will have to clip and/or spray the weeds and crabgrass prior to planting those crops in the next couple of months. We'll probably try to harvest some of the crabgrass as baleage. Its quality will be a factor in deciding whether to feed it to the milking herd or to heifers/dry cows.
  • We will probably once again try to buy peanut hay, assuming the economics work out. It would allow us to extend the availability of our sorghum silage and reserve more of our bermudagrass hay for our heifers and dry cows.
  • The cool season crops we intend on planting include ryegrass, oats, and triticale, with possibly some wheat and lupin. We'll use these for both grazing and for harvested forages (either baleage or chopped silage in the spring). Grazing these crops will let us extend our summer/fall-harvested forages later into the spring, and the baleage or silage we harvest from them will be our forage basis through next summer.

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