Cutting Hay

Re: Cutting Hay

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:50 pm

Around here good hay (2nd crop all Timothy) is $35 bucks a bale. Small square bales of the same quality will set you back about $3.50 per bale for a 60 lb'er roughly, and balage will set you back $40 (marshmallows). Corn silage goes for $48 per ton, and Haylage goes for $33 per ton.

The last few years we have been using a new type of corn. It has an all white cob that the cows and sheep will eat so we are getting more out of the animals, but I can't remember the trade name of it. (Sorry) We get around 24 tons to the acre with that which has been nice. The cow nutritionist said we could not get better silage then that two years ago, then ate his words and says last winter's silage was even better, but it is really expensive seed, and to get it we must side dress with anhydrous ammonia. It pops the ear nicely, but again costs money. Our chopper also has a "cracker" inside the chopper part of it, and somehow cracks the individual kernels of corn so the cows and sheep extract more nutrition from the corn, and we can reduce our grain bill significantly. That is a $40,000 accessory though!

Over the last few years we have really tried to increase our self-produced feed quality so we can reduce our grain bill and still produce just as much milk. It is getting tough because they keep changing the rules. Years ago it was butter fat content that got you bonuses, but now it is protein content. This is because of sports drinks that need the protein added, and yep...that comes from milk. You get protein from short grass, and you would not believe what we go through in order to harvest grass silage at boot height. We have stopped planting corn and gone to harvesting grass just because the grass is at the right protein levels. It is better to do that, and then buy 72 day corn to finish out planting the corn, then it is to put up crappy grass silage.

That means harvesting grass silage more often, and so that means burning more fuel since you are harvesting the same amount of acres 5 times a year instead of just 2. But of course fuel has gone up, so to combat that we have had to get bigger equipment. That is why we have 400 hp tractors now, 10 foot mowers and harvesters just do not cut reduce our fuel consumption it is taking 16 foot mowers and using mergers to quadruple up rows that the 15 foot combine can swallow and spit out at 8 mph. We are knocking down 200 acres a day, but that is nothing compared to what we are going to do...we have to in order to feed enough cows to stay viable.

But Freetown Fred is right; this equipment comes at a price. I never thought I would see the day when a disc harrow costs $50,000, or the tractor pulling it was $150,000 and had no PTO or 3 point hitch! A 16 foot haybine will set you back $30,000, while the chopper (combine) will cost you $450,000. And the milking parlor the cows walk into costs over $1,000,000 dollars. They all roll off the tongue nicely, but it takes a lot of sharp pencils in order to make it work.

All I can say is; hang on, it is going to be a bumpy ride, but this is what it takes to farm today.

Dennis wrote:
coalnewbie wrote:You cow guys don't know how lucky you are. In dressage horse land we are now managing to attract trainers to our farm who used to go to Florida for the winter and now can't afford it,(yeh by being low bidder). These very expensive horses (not mine) only will eat second cutting and even then they are fussy. The last load was $10 a bale :o (about 70# on average).Came from the finger lakes and looked so great I am thinking of making a salad with it, a little ranch dressing and it will taste great. Times are tough!

The only thing I like about horse's is the girls that ride them
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Cutting Hay

PostBy: Mark (PA) On: Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:58 pm

I only feed round bales outside and small squares into the barn during periods of really bad weather.

I don't find the waste to be all that bad on the round bales outside. They make a balesaver type ring that holds the bale up higher so when the cow is eatined the waste is more likely to fall into the lower part of the ring so they eat it eventually... not sure how well that works as I don't have one. Maybe one of you guys do?

Just a typical bale ring here. Anyway I only have about 15 to 20% waste on a round usually with my cows. This year will be the first in about 8 years I will need to buy in hay before the end of winter. Not looking forward to that. usually I can make all the hay I need but for some reason I didn't get the yield I need this year to feed all the girls.

I also notice it depends on the animal. I agree some cows get a bite of it and what doesn't go into their mouth falls out never to be touched again.

But then I do have a few that literally pick up everything they drop and are very good eaters with very very little waste. So maybe its just a per cow basis thing!

My cows are very spoiled though when it comes down to it. They certainly eat up 2nd and 3rd cutting faster than 1st! Oh well.

Today I was able to power wash one of my water troughs as it got up to almost 40 degree's here.
Mark (PA)
Stove/Furnace Make: 1953 EFM SF-520 High Boy
Stove/Furnace Model: Fitzgibbon Boiler

Re: Cutting Hay

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:06 pm

One thing I forgot to add is milk quality. We are paid bonuses for that and we are considered a Gold Star Dairy Farm which means our bacteria counts are incredibly low. Not just from a spot inspection, but based over a years time which means bacteria tests every other day.

In order to do that we must have clean cows and make sure any bacteria (mastitis in the cows teats) do not make it into the milk. We do that in numerous ways; the first is using surgical grade iodine to pre-clean, clean and then post clean the cows. This is 7% surgical grade and is expensive, but important stuff.

A huge step is hand-starting the cows. If you just throw a milking machine on a cow, you run the risk of getting mastitis into the milk tank. Instead we hand milk each teat to ensure it is giving good milk, then put the milkers on. After they are done milking, we then hand strip out each teat. That ensures no milk is left in the cow teat or quarter causing mastitis to start.

Another surprising thing we do, is not clean the parlor with water. It looks clean, but water spreads bacteria. We use antibacterial cleaners to keep the parlor clean instead but only at the end of shifts. (Remember, we milk our cows 24/7/365 and never stop).

Finally our cows use infrared tags. As they come through the door, if a sick cow that has had medicine arrives, the computer system will not allow that cow to be milked. We know so much about each cow that it is actually scary.

Now does all this pay off?

IN A HUGE WAY! Because we are a Gold Star Dairy Farm, we get about $5 dollars more per hundred weight, which for us is about $100,000 more per month. I am not sure we would be a viable farm without producing quality, high protein milk, and yes, lots of it! :-)
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)