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boondocks

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and it's almost August. This is about to kill me. Have slowly watched our beautiful green fields turn to crap. Went away on vacay for 2 weeks, hoping the guy who cuts it would catch a break on the weather and we'd come home to a barn full of hay. Well, we've had rain (or, to some extent worse-yet, the unfulfilled threat of it) nearly every day for months now, and we came home yesterday to fields of straw and an empty barn. Many neighbors are in the same boat; the ones that do baleage are a bit better off. As a small, purely grass-fed outfit, this looks like it could mean big changes.

Anybody else not even got a first cutting yet?
 

Stocker Steve

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Grass fed is hard in the north w/o balage or haylage. Serious forage folks here cut every 28 days and then do what they have to do to get it off the field.
 

Lucky_P

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If you've got a rigid, quasi-religious adherence to 'purely grass-fed'... you may need to re-examine your business model...if there's no grass...

Plenty of folks here have dealt with drought situations, lack of locally-produced forages, etc.
Sometimes it gets to the point that you have to liquidate or disperse the herd... either partially or fully.
Or, you may need to consider alternative feeds and feeding strategies... like limit-feeding purchased hay/forage and providing the bulk of the cows' nutritional needs with grains or co-product feeds to get you past this upcoming fall & winter.
 

ALACOWMAN

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I realize you said your a small producer, but your problem is exactly why I bought my own (((used))) equipment.. Its there when I need it, and have a window of good weather to bale, don't have to wait on someone else,, to many variables to worry about.....
 
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boondocks

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ALACOWMAN":11oi58i5 said:
I realize you said your a small producer, but your problem is exactly why I bought my own (((used))) equipment.. Its there when I need it, and have a window of good weather to bale, don't have to wait on someone else,, to many variables to worry about.....

We are wrestling with that decision. Or, as Lucky P says, feeding some grain or other products to get us through. We usually buy baleage and can do that again, but rely on our own hay (small squares) for about 50% of their winter feed (mix of first and second cuttings) then (in addition to the baleage) buy some large round hay bales. That, along with a few barrels of Crystalyx, has kept them in good condition before (but ain't cheep).
Ironically, they have plenty of nice grass right now. If we had nothing but hours of time, we could poly off the over-mature fields and make them eat that, then bale the fields they're on. Only problem is (1) fencing; (2) water; and (3) manure in the green fields.
Another option will be seriously selling off quite a few. If we were a stocker operation (buying this spring and selling this fall), it would have been a better business model.
 
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boondocks

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Stocker Steve":3lzvaivc said:
Grass fed is hard in the north w/o balage or haylage. Serious forage folks here cut every 28 days and then do what they have to do to get it off the field.

Do they literally cut and bale in the rain? Because when I say we've had rain every day, I mean every day. The very very few days it hasn't rained, there has been rain predicted, and threatening clouds all day. And even those days were book-ended by days of storms and flood conditions. So getting equipment in would have ruined the fields anyway I think...

There's company in misery at least...none of the old-timer farmers around here can remember it ever being this bad, and most of them have fields of straw as well. Only a few people with baleage equipment have been able to get in at all.
 

shaz

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If it's that wet then you should consider some nitrogen on your pastures and strip graze. 50-60lbs per acre should make up for a lot of hay.
 

Stocker Steve

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boondocks":281w3qh2 said:
Stocker Steve":281w3qh2 said:
Grass fed is hard in the north w/o balage or haylage. Serious forage folks here cut every 28 days and then do what they have to do to get it off the field.

Do they literally cut and bale in the rain?

If the sun is shining in the morning, then you cut and bale the same day.
 

Ol' 243

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Stocker Steve":3gxd5z8k said:
boondocks":3gxd5z8k said:
Stocker Steve":3gxd5z8k said:
Grass fed is hard in the north w/o balage or haylage. Serious forage folks here cut every 28 days and then do what they have to do to get it off the field.

Do they literally cut and bale in the rain?

If the sun is shining in the morning, then you cut and bale the same day.

Pretty good plan, unless you write the insurance policy on the mans barn.
 

artesianspringsfarm

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Ol' 243":33zv5ikq said:
Stocker Steve":33zv5ikq said:
boondocks":33zv5ikq said:
Do they literally cut and bale in the rain?

If the sun is shining in the morning, then you cut and bale the same day.

Pretty good plan, unless you write the insurance policy on the mans barn.


I'm pretty sure Steve is saying thats how they get haylage or baleage. Boondocks, can your hay guy not wrap it and make baleage? I feel your pain and we are way behind ourselves. Only have about 150 bales put up so far and now what we are putting up aint pretty.
 

farmerjan

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No, if you cut and bale the same day, then you wrap it. With the over mature dry " straw " tops, it will balance some of the green and should do okay for wrapping. We had that same situation a couple of years ago, when it was down to about 30-40% chance, we took the chance, cut it if it was sunny that day, and then mostly tedded it out at least once, during the day....then raked and baled or took a chance and raked the next morning with the clouds and got it baled and then wrapped when we could get the wrapper. Far from ideal, but it beats snowballs in the winter; especially when there is snow every where. You guys in NY had a pretty rough winter for snow this past year I remember and constant rain this year is a real kick in the teeth. I would also seriously consider grazing as much away from the home farm so that they can come home to grass or you might get a chance to make some " combo 1st/2nd cutting. Don't discount that it could just stop sometime in early Aug also, and dry up with no more rain and then the pastures will dry up too.

As for the water situation, we bought a 1000 gal tank from tractor supply several years ago, put it on a flat bed trailer,or a hay wagon that you ironically aren't using, and put 2 150 gal tanks with the auto water float on them and ran water from the tank via garden hose to the two water troughs that were set right against the trailer. All according to how many head, you might get 1 to 10 days out of it before just pulling the trailer home to run water into it, like overnight or whatever. With the grass/grazing being green it will have a high water content and they might go through the water a little slower than if everything was very dry and temps were in the 90-100 every day.
We haven't used the tank for 3 years, but it is there ready to go, and it was like 400 well spent. Had the trailer and the couple of rubbermaid water tubs and whatever the couple of floats and short pieces of hose were. Probably about 5-550 in it all. We had to do it when the water dried up at a pasture and it was one of the few places that had alot of grass.

There are alternatives that will cost a bit up front, but then it will give you some alternatives in the future. If you have to sell a couple of head, it will pay for it and give you some flexibility.
 

chevytaHOE5674

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Been having the same issue UP here as well. Hard to get 2 days in a row without rain. Been wrapping most of my hay just to get it done. Its 1am and I just finished wrapping like 35 bales that were mowed ~16 hours earlier. Ground is so wet I will have to do some fixing in spots when it dries up.
 

dun

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At least with too much rain you still have pasture for the cows to eat. We're droughty and the great grass we had 3 weeks ago is now so dry that just the cows walking through it as they graze destroys what isn;t eaten. We'll be feeding hay in another week or 2. Usually only feed hay in late march to mid april or if the stockpiled grass is covered with ice or snow.
 

Stocker Steve

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farmerjan":1uxrdwkv said:
As for the water situation, we bought a 1000 gal tank from tractor supply several years ago, put it on a flat bed trailer,or a hay wagon that you ironically aren't using, and put 2 150 gal tanks with the auto water float on them and ran water from the tank via garden hose to the two water troughs that were set right against the trailer.

What kind of float did you use for this low pressure set up?

How many gallons per head per day was typical?
 

farmerjan

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The float is a not very expensive one that is sold at the feed store and will screw onto the top of the water troughs; the rubbermaid ones. Float is about 8 inches by 3-4 inches by about 4-6 inches high, and it sticks over into the tank. Water comes in and as it fills up it pushes the float up which cuts the water off. I will look at the type when I go up to the farm where they are later today. Probably costs about 10-20 per float. That was one reason to keep it right against the trailer so they couldn't knock it or break it off the tank or whatever. Cows will not leave things alone as you well know. When we had it set up, it was 90's and very dry so I would say the cattle were drinking a fair amount...but thinking back, I would say 15-20 gallons per head a day at least. We had 15 -20 or so head there and the tank of water would last somewhere around 3 days. These cows had calves on them so the calves were drinking some but the cows were lactating so probably drinking more than dry cows or steers would be. So 20 head at 15 gal a day would be about 3 days = 900-1000 gal. That's approx.. The one thing that was good was, god forbid, someone got it unhooked, or the hose off or something, you only lost the big water tank full of water.
If it was hooked to a water faucet and a well, it could cause the well pump to run,. and run the well dry or burn up the pump. That is why we are having to go out to one pasture right now and run the water daily because we can't take the chance that they get something loose and run the guy's well dry or burn up his pump. We have 18 cows, the bull and 18 calves in the 250-350 lb size and they are drinking about 350 gal a day. I am filling the 3 water troughs, 100, 100 and 150 gal, and they drink their fill, and I fill the troughs to the brim. They usually have a very little left when i get back out there the next day; but twice they have been empty but the cows don't rush for the water so I know they have not been without for very long. We were getting water from the county, out of the fire hydrant. Got a permit and paid for the water and it allowed us to keep the cattle at this place on grass. Once we got some rain the well came back (maybe it was a spring that was piped to the water trough). It is the first place we have water trouble when the weather gets hot and dry.
 
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boondocks

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artesianspringsfarm":2psk0gqo said:
Ol' 243":2psk0gqo said:
Stocker Steve":2psk0gqo said:
If the sun is shining in the morning, then you cut and bale the same day.

Pretty good plan, unless you write the insurance policy on the mans barn.


I'm pretty sure Steve is saying thats how they get haylage or baleage. Boondocks, can your hay guy not wrap it and make baleage? I feel your pain and we are way behind ourselves. Only have about 150 bales put up so far and now what we are putting up aint pretty.

wish he could. He doesn't have the equipment for it. A neighbor does and was going to do it but his equipment broke down and now he's behind on his own fields.
 

farmerjan

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Having to depend on others is really a pain, but then you can't afford to own all the equipment if you are going to only use it occasionally. We are in that predicament with a wrapper and are trying to decide if we can justify one in the next year or two. And it doesn't matter how well you maintain or prepare, there are ALWAYS breakdowns..... a bearing went out on the brand new discbine and they said 3 weeks.....we said if we did the work would they send the part and still cover the warranty....they said yes so we did it ourselves..... but gee whiz that is why we traded and got a BRAND NEW ONE...... to avoid the breakdown time....

I looked at the float thing on the water troughs. It says rubbermaid right on it. It hangs about 4 inches down into the trough, 2 screws attach it, and the float is like underneath so as the trough gets full, it pushes the float up into the case and shuts the water off. Pretty simple and not much for the cows to try to "play with" . If they sell the troughs, they ought to sell the float too.
 
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boondocks

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Gettin' in a real funk over the fields of basically straw. Where I've kept the farm road mowed, we have nice green grass. Had we brush hogged the fields a month ago (assuming we could sneak in a few hours without rain), we would have at least something now.
At what point should we just call them a loss and brush hog it in the hopes of getting at least a small "second" cutting? I'm worried there's too much biomass now and would maybe kill off the new grass if it's not removed...I am totally out of my element on this. Gonna call the county co-op guy in the am and beg for some advice.
 

greatgerts

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dun":31klfi77 said:
At least with too much rain you still have pasture for the cows to eat. We're droughty and the great grass we had 3 weeks ago is now so dry that just the cows walking through it as they graze destroys what isn;t eaten. We'll be feeding hay in another week or 2. Usually only feed hay in late march to mid april or if the stockpiled grass is covered with ice or snow.

I put 5 bales out yesterday :mad: Maybe, hopefully, it will rain soon.
 

True Grit Farms

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boondocks":16jzfgmn said:
Gettin' in a real funk over the fields of basically straw. Where I've kept the farm road mowed, we have nice green grass. Had we brush hogged the fields a month ago (assuming we could sneak in a few hours without rain), we would have at least something now.
At what point should we just call them a loss and brush hog it in the hopes of getting at least a small "second" cutting? I'm worried there's too much biomass now and would maybe kill off the new grass if it's not removed...I am totally out of my element on this. Gonna call the county co-op guy in the am and beg for some advice.

viewtopic.php?t=14091
I'm wondering if you can just bale what you have and use as a filler and supplement? Myself I'd rotary mow half and bale the other half when possible. Never put all your eggs in one basket. What I can see from the satellite weather, I'd be cutting hay Wednesday and hoping for the best. Good luck
 

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