The Great Grass Plan
If you read the post last week, you are well aware that we are having some feeding issues.
We have a cow with an ulcer that is being aggravated by several things...but one being too much feed.
As we talked with the vet and established a plan to get Angel turned around, it quickly became apparent that we needed to make major changes to our feeding plan.
One thing the vet said that really hit home was that we really should be able to have a good enough grass and hay supply that we can feed out a show cow without grain.
Think about that...that is the exact opposite of what we are doing and what the cattle industry is telling us.
But...if it is possible...we should be aiming for that goal.
In all reality, I don't think we will ever achieve an all grass diet for our show cattle, but we can certainly be more grass based and less grain based.
The big problem is....our grass and hay supply.
When we planted our hay field 18 years ago, we planted a grass hay mixture that was geared towards horses...because we had horses. Now, we have cows and they have different nutritional needs.
We have heard from so many people that you need to replant your hay field every 5, 6 or how ever many years. We haven't...because we haven't needed to. We have managed our hay field well and the hay is producing very strongly for us. Why fix something that isn't broken?
Our hay is just a grass mixture, but the cows love it and are doing well on it. Daniel has talked more and more recently about replanting the hay field to incorporate more of a cattle mixture...but we just can't justify it.
Until...that conversation with the vet.
We really see the point now. If we can change up our hay to contain more protein and still wet wrap first cutting and dry bale our second cutting, we could really start to play around with our feed program.
Our goal is to increase the hay consumption and decrease the grain consumption without sacrificing body condition. This will be a gradual process, but it will allow us to use a little bit of grain to maintain condition and allow for supplements to correct problem areas, but maintain the natural balances of the gut.
It isn't going to happen overnight...and it is going to really hurt to plow up a perfectly good hay field...but progress comes with pain.
Our permanent pastures are the same story, but they started out as just yard with overseeding to supplement throughout the years.
We really have too many animals on our farm, so the pastures have taken a beating.
I am not at all upset to plow up the pastures that have some nice, annoying weed taking over. However, the challenge with the pastures is to replant while still saving some pastures to graze our animals.
Fall is a great time to plant grass.
The grand plan for this year is to replant one of the pastures. We will experiment on the smaller pastures to see how the grass mixtures grow and how the cows adapt. Once we are happy with a seed mixture, we will move on the replanting the hay field.
Nothing in the cattle world is an exact science or a fast process. We know this is going to take years to accomplish, but if we don't start, we will never see the finish line.
Our vet gave us the name of someone who is a supposedly a genius in grasses, so we are going to formulate a seed mixture with him that will get us where we need to be. We can read all we want in books about what grass is good for this and that, but your climate, soil nutrients and native grasses all play a factor in the formula. That's why we are going to talk with someone locally that has experience in our neck of the woods.
We could be innovative and experiment ourselves...but why go to all that effort when someone else has already done it?
All I know is I want my cows to have the best feast they can have. Over the years, we have invested in different parts of our farm, but now it is time to invest in the ground beneath our feet.
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3/14/2021 11:04:36 pm
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Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.