Monday, October 01, 2007

Quality Pasture :: Chapter 10 Book Report

I just finished up reading chapter 10 of "Quality Pasture" by Allan Nation. This chapter was titled, "Seasonal Grass Dairying". I knew from the title that there wasn't going to be a lot of specific information in this chapter that would be useful for any operation that I was thinking about at the time, but it was still a good read. Dairying seems to a be an art, kind of like baling or just about all farming, that takes a good amount of knowledge about animals, health, forages, and more. I'm not about ready to tackle that right off (did you read my post about the farmer who hit the end), but I did find a lot of interesting nuggets in this chapter.

The most encouraging thing I read was the examples from real life farmers who are making grass based seasonal dairies work. So often when you mention some ideas you find from sources such as Joel Salatin, Allan Nation, the Stockman Grass Farmer, and other books/periodicals you get the standard Iowa farming tradition answer, "well, that won't work for you or here". But, this chapter proved that there are plenty of guys out there that are feeding forages for their main feed and running a seasonal dairy for a decent profit. Plus, the get the benefit of a few months off!

Another interesting thing is how America seems to be lagging behind in terms of thinking outside of the grain box (or should I say bushel basket). One interesting piece of information comes from Carl Pulvermacher a Holstein grazier from Wisconsin.

"He said his 68 acres of pasture land currently grosses #1430.70 per acre ($1305.20 from milk and $125.50 from meat) compared to only $402 from his corn ground (162 bushels at $2.50 - grain is higher now - per bushel)." -Quality Pasture by Allan Nation (pg. 186)

It seems like sometime our farmers would catch on to things like that ... but, maybe I'm just missing something? Please let me know if I am!

The last thing that I found really interesting in this chapter was a list of cost cutters for most dairy producers. While it is geared for the dairymen I thought it would be just as important for a beef cattle producer:

  1. Get Your Breeding Season In Sync With the Pasture

  2. Stop Grain Farming

  3. Concentrate On Cutting Feed Costs

  4. Minimize Machinery Costs

  5. Increase Stocking Rate

  6. Be Realistic About Animal Genetics

  7. Don't Blame The Animals For Lack Of Profits

  8. Change As Fast As Possible

If you have any thoughts on these things I would love to hear them!

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