Friday, September 23, 2011

Silage Harvest: the end is near

Silage chopping has run pretty smoothly this week, and I'm happy to report that we now have one silage pit full of sorghum. We'll take some time this morning to cover and seal the pit with plastic so the chopped sorghum will ferment properly. It will be several months before our cows eat any of this feed (we'll use up the corn silage first), but we expect it will preserve nicely.

We still have approximately 20 acres of sorghum remaining, which we'll chop next week and pack into our smallest silage pit. Once we're finished, harvesting 25 acres of sudex (sorghum-sudangrass) will be next on the to-do list. We might chop it and pack it into the pit as well, but we'll most likely make baleage out of it by cutting, baling, and wrapping.

For your viewing pleasure, I've included our latest MooTube Minute which focuses on our silage harvest. I hope you enjoy and, as always, have a "dairy" good day!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Caught up, milk's up, and back to harvesting

We took a break from harvesting silage last week to catch up on some other jobs around the dairy farm. Although Monday was pretty much a washout thanks to Tropical Storm Lee and its nearly 7" of rain (much needed, by the way), we did fit in a lot of work Tuesday through Friday. We spent some time moving several animals around into other pastures, fertilized a couple of fields with slurry, and performed maintenance on our harvesting equipment.

GDF #636 "Adele" shades on a sunny September day
The best thing about the past week is the upswing in our cows' milk production. On average, the cows are producing five pound of milk more than they were at the beginning of last week. Cooler nights, not-quite-as-hot days, and a change in their feed formulation are the primary reasons the cows are doing better. We are also benefiting from having more "fresh" cows in the milking herd. A fresh cow is one that has recently calved and is increasing its milk production.

We resumed our harvest yesterday with 90 acres of forage sorghum ready to be chopped. If all goes well (and it rarely does with our chopper), I would hope we could harvest 10 acres per day. I managed 5 acres Monday afternoon, so we shall see. Unlike our corn which was planted mostly in straight rows on flat land, all of our sorghum was planted in contoured, terraced fields. This means that we'll have to run a little slower and will have more in-field turning. These fields are closer to our silage pits, though, so there should be minimal downtime waiting on the dump truck to travel back and forth.

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