As summer creeps along and we try to prepare ourselves for the impending "dog days" of August, we're still drying off more cows than we're freshening. For those of you unfamiliar with dairy lingo, that means more cows are leaving the milking herd for "pre-calving maternity leave" than are calving and re-joining the milking herd. We did have one calf born yesterday (a heifer!), but no more cows are due until August 9. Between now and then, we have five cows to dry off this afternoon and six more next week. We're looking at the very real possibility of dropping under 150 cows in milk for the first time in several years if a few of our current dry cows don't calve a few days early. We were milking a higher-than-normal 190 cows this time last year, so I guess it goes to show that things have a way of balancing out over time.
|silage corn crop|
What we're currently lacking in milk production, we seem to be making up for in forage production. I know it's dangerous to count your chickens before they hatch (or your tonnage before you harvest), but right now it looks like we should have a good yield. We have a good stand of silage corn which looks to be right on schedule for a late-August/early-September harvest, and our forage sorghum has really jumped over the past week thanks to some good rains. After a slow start, our bermudagrass hay fields should provide a full three cuttings (and enough hay for winter) if we continue to get "normal" rainfall over the next two months.
Well, my breakfast break is over and it's time for me to head back over to the dairy. We'll be moving a group of heifers to a new pasture first thing this morning, and then I'll spend much of the rest of the day planting a few acres of sudex. Be sure to check out Mississippi Farmweek's July 22 feature story our farm, and y'all have a "dairy" good day!