Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A long overdue farm update

A person might interpret my month-long hiatus from blogging as evidence that we've run out of things to do on the dairy farm. Well, I can assure you that is not the case. The days may be getting shorter, but we're cramming as much work into the daylight (and pre-dawn) hours as we possibly can. I'll try to catch you up on a few of the things that have been happening over the last couple of weeks.

heifers standing at their hayring
With summer pasture grasses now dormant and unavailable for grazing, our heifers and dry cows are receiving hay bales and mineral blocks in their pastures to supplement their pelleted feed.  Competition for forage is much higher around a hay ring than it is in an open pasture, so we've made sure all our heifers are grouped with others their own size. This will help prevent bigger heifers from "hogging" all the hay at the smaller heifers' expense.

Our milking herd climbed as high as 194 cows last week, but we've since dried off ten pregnant milkers and sent four low producing cows to the cattle sale. We still have several cows to dry off before the end of the month, and we won't be calving in more than we're drying off until mid-December. As it stands, I expect we'll climb to and surpass 200 cows in milk by the second week of January.

In addition to milking and herd management chores, we've had plenty to keep us busy out in the fields. I spent several days the week before last applying both slurry and N-sol fertilizer to fescue pastures. I've recently planted 50 ares of oats and ryegrass into the milking herd's spring grazing paddocks, and I hope to have an additional 90 acres of cropland planted in ryegrass by the end of next week.

I'll try to do a better job of keeping this blog updated through the winter, but remember to follow my Twitter account (@gilmerdairy) or "like" our farm's facebook page to keep up with the daily happenings on our family farm. As always, thanks for your time and have a "dairy" good day!

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