Hay fields

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JSCATTLE

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I've got a 20 acre coastal field at my house . I can make plenty of hay for the cows I have . I don't like buying outside hay . Seems to me you are potentially bringing in weed seeds and planting them in your pastures . I'm far enough south the grass stays green until mid November and greens back up mid to late march . We get about 15 to 20 days close to freezing at night . And maybe 5 days with freezing temps during the day .
 

regolith

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hayray":4d01vcdh said:
Like Dun wrote, try doing year-round grazing this far North, pretty tough. Also remember that most years you can purchase hay well below production cost from people that don't know their production costs so buying hay in many years is still a profitable way to subsidize the cattle feed program as long as half the year or more they are grazing. Hay still has a place to help increase profit and carrying capacity.

So does that mean you have to find a new sucker every couple of years to buy your below cost hay from?
JScattle is right about weed seeds being a potential problem. I avoid buying hay/silage mainly because of the likelihood of obtaining very poor quality bales; if I knew the source was good and the price worthwhile I'd go for it. But the fact is that most silage and some hay made in this country is lower nutritional value than it could have been if cut earlier and preserved correctly.

JSCattle: when are your peak grass growth months? I know agmantoo runs a year round calving system, mine is spring calving with the cows calving from 6 - 8 weeks before peak growth and progressive culling and drying off and feeding out silage or hay a few months later to continue to match feed demand with growth. Calving and lactating through the winter seems an odd way to cut down on hay use, unless you've got more grass then than in summer. Autumn-grown grass could see them through the winter if you don't get a lot of hard frosts.
 

CJohnson

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I have gone to field days and read articles / books on high stock density grazing. I am in E Texas, run 300 cows, calve end of Feb for 90 days. I run 2-300 yearlings as well. I practice rotational grazing now. Most pastures are 25 acres. I use electric fencing for 3 days grazing. I was to start high stock density grazing last spring when the grass got ahead, but the drought hit and never was able to get out of crisis mode. All I can say is that we survived and are still in business, but have a hole to try and get out of. The one thing that has been the most helpful to me on reducing hay cost is using stockpiled standing hay. I fertilize coastal in August for 2 months growth before frost, then graze dry pregnant cows using electric fence. I can usually make it to about Jan 1 on most years before needing hay. I can feed the cows hay from Jan until they calve. As they calve, they are moved back onto pasture of ryegrass / clover and some annual winter pasture. I really enjoy reading what others are doing and have tried different ideas. The other thing I have done that has really helped is to plant winter annual on leased land and move weaned calves off the main ranch in the fall, so that the cows have more acres (decreasing stock density) during the winter / early spring. This works for me because the lease cost is very low. I hope to start high stock density grazing this spring and that we will not have another severe drought.
 

Stocker Steve

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CJohnson":1vtl0i5c said:
The other thing I have done that has really helped is to plant winter annual on leased land and move weaned calves off the main ranch in the fall, so that the cows have more acres (decreasing stock density) during the winter / early spring. This works for me because the lease cost is very low.

The cheapest feed in this country is corn stubble, but few use it.
You see folks farther SW using electric fence and trucking water but not here.
 
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novatech

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Stocker Steve":lx27zyp3 said:
CJohnson":lx27zyp3 said:
The other thing I have done that has really helped is to plant winter annual on leased land and move weaned calves off the main ranch in the fall, so that the cows have more acres (decreasing stock density) during the winter / early spring. This works for me because the lease cost is very low.

The cheapest feed in this country is corn stubble, but few use it.
You see folks farther SW using electric fence and trucking water but not here.
I been seeing farms grazing cotton stubble due to the hay shortage.
 

hayray

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An advantage to purchased hay is that it brings nutrients onto your farm. I sell about 700 tons of hay a year but I am buying a lot of hay now that is cheaper then my production costs and have made the decision to keep cows out on leased pastures for the winter and bale graze and get those nutrients onto the fields followed by frost seeding clover and trefoil in March, alot more labor and travel time but it is a long term pasture improvement decision. Purchasing fertilizer for pasture in no way pencils out in my operation, I am curious how you others that fertilize are making it pencil out?
 

Stocker Steve

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hayray":33ukmve7 said:
An advantage to purchased hay is that it brings nutrients onto your farm. I sell about 700 tons of hay a year but I am buying a lot of hay now that is cheaper then my production costs and have made the decision to keep cows out on leased pastures for the winter and bale graze and get those nutrients onto the fields followed by frost seeding clover and trefoil in March, alot more labor and travel time but it is a long term pasture improvement decision. Purchasing fertilizer for pasture in no way pencils out in my operation, I am curious how you others that fertilize are making it pencil out?

Response #/# depends on how many limiting factor(s) and forage variety and time of year and moisture and... N&S in early spring on improved cool season varieties does pencil out but this is an exception and a questionable investment. Purchased hay looks like a great deal till you see the estimated % of the nutrients that are retained...

How much hay/acre to you bale graze? Have you been able to calculate or measure an organic matter increase from this bale grazing? The mob guys take OM credit for a lot of below ground root die back after standing forage grazing, which obviously you will not get with bale grazing.
 

TexasBred

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novatech":1itypnf3 said:
Stocker Steve":1itypnf3 said:
CJohnson":1itypnf3 said:
The other thing I have done that has really helped is to plant winter annual on leased land and move weaned calves off the main ranch in the fall, so that the cows have more acres (decreasing stock density) during the winter / early spring. This works for me because the lease cost is very low.

The cheapest feed in this country is corn stubble, but few use it.
You see folks farther SW using electric fence and trucking water but not here.
I been seeing farms grazing cotton stubble due to the hay shortage.
Bet they're supplementing pretty heavy too or they will be dropping weight every day....same for corn stubble. Very little nutrition.
 

JSCATTLE

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Our grass greens up in march peak growing is April through June . The grass starts to decline in value in July . I try to calve and have my caves about 3 or 4 months old during peak grass . The cows seem to have more milk than the caves need when they are under 250 pounds . This year I planted rye grass and clover . Im waiting until feb to put the pairs On it because I didn't want the cows to over produce and have a chance to cause mastitis . I've been putting out 18 percent range meal to stretch my hay . The cows look better and calves seem strOnger than in the past . I'm feeding about half the hay I normally would . Cows don't act hungry when I put out hay . They eat but don't run the tractor down to get the hay . I think by having healthier cows they will produce more milk and offset the cost of feed with pounds of calf . As long as the winter pasture cost about the same as rolling hay I don't see how you could go wrong . I can still make the hay put it the barn and after I have a years worth in reserve . When dec or jan rolls around I can sell the hay if I don't need it to pay for the winter pasture .
 

regolith

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That makes sense. My system is aiming to maximise milk production of course, so different.

'Standing hay' has certainly helped my cows this year, though normally I'd be wary of giving them large amounts of mature grass in spring because in the quality versus quantity argument quality is always paramount for grazing dairy cows. Saved the baling costs, now I've no hay for winter and will have to deal with that when we get there.
 

JSCATTLE

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Im sure its gonna be a learning curve for me for sure. I was taught to put the cows out in the pasture . Provide mineral and salt . And the rest was up to them . I guess I need to go to a few forage classes and try and find a rotational grazing class .
 

CJohnson

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Try to go to a forage field day in your area. You can learn things by going farther away but a lot will not apply, and close by field days are usually cheaper.
 
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novatech

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JSCATTLE":38tid9de said:
Texas a and m has a site in the area . I'll give them a call .
As your are probable aware in Texas soils can change dramatically from one spot to another in just a few yards. Climatic conditions also change rapidly. There can be a large difference in rainfall depending on what side of the Brazos river your on. Keep these thing in mind. What they tell you are ideas that may or may not work for you. Get as many as you can, experiment, and eventually you will find the best method, and forage for you. With our climate change you may even start thinking a little outside the box.
I have watch dairy farmers systems of forage production and have always wanted to pencil out their methods on beef production.
 

Stocker Steve

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novatech":21i0nzvb said:
I have watch dairy farmers systems of forage production and have always wanted to pencil out their methods on beef production.

The low cost dairies have been doing more grazing so there is middle ground, especially with stockers.
Some folks get stuck in the middle - - still have a full line of tillage equipment and harvest equipment and storage, but are trying to graze.
 
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