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 it...literally...to 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 (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