Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Silage, mud, and TV

Last week we finally began feeding our milking herd the sorghum silage we harvested last fall. It looks pretty good and the cows seem to be enjoying it, but we haven't gotten a forage analysis run on it yet. We'll be calling our nutritionist to take care of that in the next few days so he can adjust the composition of our dairy feed to balance out with the silage. We've used up all the sorghum-sudangrass baleage that we had been grinding in their feed ration, so we're now down to the silage and dry bermudagrass hay as the only forage available to them. Unfortunately for us, we're using our hay (for milk cows and heifers) at such a rate that we'll run out of it before our spring forages and pastures begin putting out enough growth to sustain grazing. So our options will be to either truck in alfalfa from the Midwest or find a more local source of quality bermudagrass hay. The latter is more than likely what we'll do, but either way it'll be an added cost to what already is an expensive feed recipe.

One thing it looks like we won't run out of is mud. Our ground has been incredibly wet ever since September and all the rain we've had is really taking a toll on our pastures. A lack of sunshine has also slowed the growth of our cool-season grasses as well. We had hoped to be intensively grazing our milking herd by mid-March, but the weather is really going to have to change quickly for that to be possible.

Before I sign off, I would like to quickly address a couple of news stories you may have seen on network television lately. ABC's Nightline program recently aired a segment calling the ethics of dairy management practices into question, and the CBS Evening News is currently running a two-part series about the use of anitbiotics in livestock. As a farmer, I get pretty frustrated watching stories like this because I know they don't accurately portray what most of us are really doing on our farms. At the same time, I expect the general public to have lots of questions about food production after watching these stories. This really underscores the need for myself and other farmers to proactively engage with our customers about our on-the-farm practices, and I hope they'll be willing to give us a chance to address any concerns they may have before they form their opinion strictly on what they've seen on TV.

Well, my breakfast break is over and it's time to get to work. I hope you all have a "dairy" good day!

No comments: