Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lots of Sudex

We planted nearly 45 acres of sudex (sorghum-sudangrass) this year for our milking herd to graze. Thanks to a dry spell earlier this summer it was very slow to come up, but once the rains started coming the sudex started growing. And growing, and growing! Due to the heat, we can only graze our cows for about two hours each morning after milking, and night-time grazing in our sudex paddocks is out of the question since they are across the road from our barn (not safe to move cows across a public road at 3am). Between the rapid growth and the narrow grazing window, the cows haven't been able to keep up with it.

We've already cut, green baled, and silage wrapped around 175 bales of the sudex that had grown too tall for the cows to graze. In fact, we still have approximately 30 more to bale later today. All of this has come from a 26 acre field the cows have been in only twice. We're also starting to bush-hog the 18 acres worth of paddocks they've regularly been grazing. The sudex there has also grown too tall for them as they've been stripping off the leaves but not eating the stems. Cutting it off about 6 inches tall should stimulate more nutritious regrowth.

Even though our sorghum crop (which we'll chop for silage) is "hit or miss" depending on which field it's in, our sudex grazing/hay and bermudagrass hay crops have really done well so far this summer. With milk prices so low and feed costs so high, growing quality forage is an absolute must on our farm. Thankfully we've had the weather to do it for most of the summer.

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