Friday, April 9, 2010

Moooving right along

Things seem to be moooving right along here on the dairy.

Our cows have been able to graze every morning this week. We have been giving them their normal TMR in the evenings (dry hay, silage, and dairy feed), but have only given them their dairy feed and a reduced amount of silage in the mornings after they've been milked. We have been turning them into the wheat/ryegrass paddocks at approximately 10AM and leaving them until afternoon milking time at 1PM. They have been spending most of that three hour window actively grazing, and this feeding/grazing schedule has resulted in our cows producing nearly four pounds a day more than this time last week. Plus, we're conserving our dwindling silage and hay supplies until we can harvest more forage.

We are also on pace to start planting our corn next week. All of the lime and nitrogen fertilizer our soil tests called for has been applied (we didn't need any phosphorous or potassium this time) and most of the field preparation has been completed. Our intention is to start on Monday, and barring any problems we should be finished after three days. It's been a couple of years since we've planted corn, so we're really hoping for a good crop this year.

Our rye is continuing to grow and is nearing time to be harvested, and we plan to start doing so week after next. We will cut it all with our cutter/conditioner, a machine that will crush the stems (to help it dry more quickly) and leave the cut material in a row. We will then chop it for silage and pack it into an empty silage pit. If we fill the pit or have a major breakdown on the silage equipment, we will bale it as green hay and plastic wrap the bales to ensile it.

So here's hoping for ideal weather an no equipment malfunctions so we can keep on moooving right along!


Shazza said...

Question from a New Zealander having trouble with your imperial measurements: When you say the cows are producing four pounds a day more, are you talking about milk volume? Do you measure the success of systems changes by changes in the volume of milk, or do you measure by milk composition (protein/fat)? Are you paid on the basis of milk volume, or (as in New Zealand) on the basis of yield of protein/fat solids?

Will Gilmer said...

Shazza, I was referring to milk volume. In the Southeastern United States we are paid primarily on volume as opposed to components because almost all of the milk in this region is processed and jugged as drinking milk. We do get paid a premium for the butterfat if it is over a certain percentage, but it still generally works out that more volume equals more pay.

Shazza said...

Interesting, and thank you for your answer.

In NZ, almost all the milk is destined for export and almost all herds are milked seasonally and dried off over winter. The payout is on kilograms of protein + kilograms fat(with protein being significantly more valuable per kg than fat) minus a charge for volume. It means, of course, quite a different approach to gauging effects of system changes - placing emphasis on effects on composition rather than overall volume.

Where I live, cows are currently dried off early as we are having a bit of a drought. Looking forward to some rain.