Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thinking of Winter Feeding...

With all of the fence blogging going on lately I have neglected to mention one of the biggest topics on my mind lately, which has been winter feeding. Because of everything else associated with getting the farm up and going (which is the big push this summer) we weren't able to make hay with the first cutting of our grass and I know that with only one cutting there won't be enough to make it through the winter. This means that I'm going to have to buy in some hay, which also means that I'm going to be feeding mostly round bales again this winter. And, to top that all off it means that I need to figure out how to get the big round bales to the farm. So far I have come up with a couple of options.

Option #1: Try and buy all of my hay relatively locally. I'm hoping to have between 40 and 50 big round bales so that I don't have to worry about buying late in the winter, but that also means quite a bit of transportation. Last winter when I bought 12 bales a friend from church hauled them for me in two trips, but this would be a much more substantial undertaking. One idea would be to buy from someone that delivers. This would be the easiest way to get my hay and would take the least amount of my time, but it could be the most costly.

Option #2: This is kind of the crazy idea and whether or not I like the idea really just depends on my mood at the moment. My step-grandmother owns some land about an hour and a half from us that has about 11 acres of grass on it. I could use my dad's tractor, mower, and rake to get that hay ready and then hire my cousin to come down and bale it. This would also include paying some sort of rental price to my step-grandmother. After it was all baled then I would have to hire my cousin again to haul it up to the farm (where I would need some help unloading). One nice thing is that my cousin can haul 11 bales at a time. The downsides of course are that it will mean more time spent on my part and that it may not save me that much. I guess an upside is that I could maybe get a very small second cutting off the ground that I could square bale so I would have some small squares on hand.

As I have been walking around the farm pulling fence, pounding posts, and putting in cotter pins these are the two options I have bounced back and forth in my mind. As I type them out I still can't decide which option I like the best. Any thoughts?


Rich said...

If you can't find someone that will deliver hay, how about getting your cousin to haul some locally bought hay to your farm?

I wouldn't look forward to hauling (or paying someone to haul) round bales for an hour and a half long one-way trip, which would make me reluctant to do Option #2.

How much snow cover do you typically have in the winter? Is stockpiling grass for winter grazing an option? Or, is some sort of winter pasture like rye or wheat a possibility? Even if you have significant snow cover, planting something like wheat or rye might give you some early spring grazing.

There is a method of using late planted sorghum for winter pasture that I have considered, in which sorghum is planted in late July and is frost killed in the fall, then is rationed out over the winter (usually with dry cows) If you are still considering tillage to get rid of your anthills, something similar might be an option to provide grazing and ground cover (not sure about what might be suitable for your area).

Joel said...

how about taking your cattle to the hay. They could walk-no transportation costs!

Mark said...

i would look at more small bales, cost per pound is higher but waste is a LOT less and you can spread it out over your crop/pasture ground and reduce the amount of maunure hauling that you will have to do in the spring.

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