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Bale Grazing

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Jeanne - Simme Valley

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I also calve in January/February (spring calving :oops: and again Sept/Oct.
I also make my mature cows (dry) go half a day without feeding to make them clean up (with bale feeders) each time. Generally only have the 2-3 year olds clean up every week or two (like every 2nd or 3rd feeding).
 

ClinchValley86

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Not many people in our area calve in January. Is that intentional or just the way it works out?
I had them all backed up to March in 2017 as I had no bull. But they've worked their way back down to January. I expect to see some in December this year. Its too much work with our fence to pull the bull. And I'm too greedy. Haha want a calf every 10 months.

They are all eating during the spring flush.
 

ClinchValley86

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Being honest though. Its a pain in the butt. Calves in the cold is a hit or miss. Gotta keep an eye on em. Have to bring 1 or 2 inside for a half day or 2 every season. If they arent up quick, I bring em in to warm up.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Around here - you do NOT want a calf born outside. Each cow gets brought in at night if she "appears" imminent, then let out in the AM if not calved. When they calve, they get to stay in for around 24 hours - depending on weather & how badly I need her pen for the next one!
 

Muletrack

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I had them all backed up to March in 2017 as I had no bull. But they've worked their way back down to January. I expect to see some in December this year. Its too much work with our fence to pull the bull. And I'm too greedy. Haha want a calf every 10 months.

They are all eating during the spring flush.
We used to start calving in January, and once in a while one would sneak into December. That always worked out, seems like. Liked it so much that I started turning the bulls out on Thanksgiving. The way we figured, a four-month old calf is a whole lot tougher in January/February than a 4-day-old calf. Now I lease bulls, so when 60 days is up, home they go! Never have a late calf that way.
 
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Muletrack

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The only place I can imagine that one can't bale graze is in muddy climates. Where it freezes hard, it should be doable. Steve Kenyon from Alberta was the keynote speaker at our North Dakota Grazing Coalition meeting last winter and was so inspiring. Look for him on-line at Greener Pasture Farms. He says bale grazing works especially we where he is because the winters are so hard and so long. Man, it's great to be in the North Country!
 
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Rydero

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The only place I can imagine that one can't bale graze is in muddy climates. Where it freezes hard, it should be doable. Steve Kenyon from Alberta was the keynote speaker at our North Dakota Grazing Coalition meeting last winter and was so inspiring. Look for him on-line at Greener Pasture Farms. He says bale grazing works especially we where he is because the winters are so hard and so long. Man, it's great to be in the North Country!
I've seen him speak too - read his articles. I don't know if I'd look at feeding the way I do without him. Maybe the cold is good for something at least!
 

chevytaHOE5674

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Trouble bale grazing here is the snow. Set bales out ahead of time and a storm blows thru and a 12 foot tall drift will bury those bales until spring. At least when bales are stacked someplace I know where to start digging. Lol

As for calving in January I can't imagine doing it here. No way I want to be trying to deal with newborns in 6 foot of snow and -30 degrees. Only barn my cows see is the trees and brush.
 

kenny thomas

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Here's an idea of how they clean up. The well cleaned area is alfalfa grass and the residue behind is poor wild hay. I don't see much waste but maybe the cold climate is actually good for something and helping prevent hay being stepped into the ground. I feel pretty strongly 3-4 days maximum hay at a time helps with waste too. There has to be a frequent half day period where they're waiting to be fed so they go back and clean up. View attachment 1052
I think you have hit on a huge difference in why you can feed that way and I can't. Here the ground is rarely froze even for a day. Any extra hay gets mashed into the ground.
 

Jafruech

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Not many people in our area calve in January. Is that intentional or just the way it works out?

My personal opinion is that around here calving in January would eat up a lot of profit. Even assuming you don't lose any to the cold and don't have frostbite issues or losses...you're going to spend a lot of your time and probably some facility and energy costs doing so...then you have all your secondary costs. It costs a lot more to keep a cow in good condition and to have her gain back we'll when the wind is blowing 60 mph and it's cold out side. She's Burning more calories already just to stay warm.

I moved everything to mid April to early June. They have good condition going in, calve on green grass (or brown in a drought year lol), and gain back condition more quickly. No losses, no scours, no sick calves...sleep all night calving with less inputs.
 

Rydero

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I think you have hit on a huge difference in why you can feed that way and I can't. Here the ground is rarely froze even for a day. Any extra hay gets mashed into the ground.
I never thought about how much it helps in reducing waste until I realized that. By spring we're calving and using bale rings in smaller areas and I'm bedding them so they're not in the mud.

Well for once the cold is a good thing. Also shows how to a certain extent how raising cattle in a certain place requires local knowledge or at least an understanding of local conditions. Was talking to someone the other day because there was a huge dispersal of an outfit that came from Europe and set up here. They lasted about 3 years - It's a story that keeps happening. People buy huge operations, loads of cattle and a few years later they're broke. I wouldn't assume I knew how to operate a cattle farm in a different climate or area without some study and local experience.

It doesn't mean I can't try another way or bring something new to this area but sometimes there's a reason you don't recognize why it's difficult or has to be adapted.
 

RDFF

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When feeding hay in the muddy season, unrolling across a large area would probably be a much better fit. Spread the cattle out alot more, with alot less concentration of hoof traffic in one spot. However, when the ground's frozen, bale grazing can work really well. As for drifting in and around bales set out ahead of time, I put mine out in "open field" but try to have them tucked in directly on the east/SE side of a woods, and on sandy ground. Hardly ever drifts at all back in there. Woods filter most of the snow out of the wind. Deciduous works even better than a more dense conifer break. But out in the open field without the woods, it'll bury 'em for sure. If you can't have woods, maybe putting them on the east/SE slope behind a hill would do it... usually the snow doesn't blow around alot there either, snow falls out for the most part on the leeward side of the hill. We usually get about 80+" of snow a year total here, probably quite a bit different if you're dealing with lake effect snows though...
 

chevytaHOE5674

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We get 200" plus of snowfall a year, some years closer to 300". Also one of my herds is 1/2 mile from Lake superior, so there is no real shelter from the wind lol. When it blows from the north its coming across miles of open water so its nothing to have a 15 foot tall drift appear overnight.
 

Rydero

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There's a first time for everything. When placing bales this weekend I knew the temp was going to dip for a couple days. I've been mixing in wild hay but for the first 3 day period I fed only alfalfa grass to provide more energy. First cold morning I went to check them and it was -28c (-18F) and they were grazing instead of eating hay. I could get used to not having snow.
 

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