Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Forage Thinking

My dad and I made a quick swing around the farm yesterday to check the progress of our various spring forages.  The result: time to get the harvesting equipment ready.  It would be ideal if we could start the harvest this week, but that's unlikely to happen.  We already have our monthly DHIA test scheduled for tomorrow morning, and our local large-animal veterinarian is coming by the farm tomorrow to pregnancy check 80-100 cows and heifers. With all that going on, it would be nearly impossible to get our chopping equipment in the field this week, but we hope to be hard at it by this time next week.

Our 20+ acres of rye will be the first crop to harvest.  And even though we won't be able to harvest any this week as silage, we may be able to go ahead and harvest about half of it as baleage.  That would involve mowing it down with our cutter/conditioner and then baling it green and plastic wrapping it the next day.  Once we finish with the rye, we will move on to about 6 acres of triticale and just over 40 acres of oats. Our cows recently grazed a 10 acre field that was split between those two crops, and hopefully it will have enough re-growth to cut and chop by the time we finish harvesting the other fields.

Beyond the harvest, the cows are continuing to strip graze rye and ryegrass and should be able to continue doing so for several more weeks.  We've made it through the winter with a fair amount of bermudagrass hay to spare, so we'll probably use a lot of it in the cows' TMR feed over the next couple of months (though we'll likely carry a number of bales over into next season in case we don't produce enough new hay this summer).  We will probably plant our corn silage crop in the Yellow Creek bottom towards the end of this month or the first of May. We expect to follow our spring forages with a BMR variety of forage sorghum, which we'll plant in late May or early June.  Sudex for grazing/baleage and teff grass for grazing/hay are other crop options we are also considering for this summer.

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