niko horster wrote:Hi Chris,
I am on your list and listen to a fair amount of the interviews you post. Some really great stuff in there.
I have a small herd of cattle (cow/calf through finish) in Vt (23 head) and would like to hear your take on finishing with planted annuals (corn and oats) to extend the finish season out of the spring flush time window. I would also like to hear a bit about winter feeding in our climate, cold and snowy, lots of ice crusting some years. long winter 200 days on average. Wrapped bales vs hay vs stockpile etc.
all I have heard is from people in much milder climes doing the no hay thing, is anyone doing it here?
niko horster wrote:hmm, thanks for your reply. the urine test is interesting, i will try that. Do pool water test strips work for that? I would think that there is a broad spectrum the cows can eat without changing ph a lot and not gaining a lot either. That is why I was thinking of adding more energy by using corn forage and oats at milk stage forage. Supplements are out of the question financially, I agree.
I have not met anyone up our way who is totally no hay, a few good managers can do about 50% no hay, which is probably where the sweet spot is. Feeding whole bales is probably not a great idea either here, too wet, the hay will definitely not be edible the 2nd season. maybe not even the 1st after sitting out more than 30 days.
I have distributed wrapped bales on snow and moved the cattle around like that. works well.
Thanks again for taking time to answer questions here.
As an aside:
i have established the beginnigs of a swale and berm system on my pasture land, don't see how it works on hay land, and the results are great. Works.
Lm McWilliams wrote:Chris & Niko,
Appreciate the exchange of info here!
Niko, like you, we live in northern New England and get to deal with varying amounts of snow and ice
each winter - yeah!
Bale grazing has worked so well for us that we wonder what took us so long to start doing it. Our
experience is that the loss from unwrapped round bales is quite high, as you said, due to rainfall and
humidity, but that could still work well for people with access to affordably priced dry rounds - especially
where the 'waste' hay can help build or improve soils that have been damaged (by row cropping,
overgrazing in the past, compaction, etc or over the top of 'ledge').
Wrapped round bales, both baleage and dry, have worked great, as long as the baleage is well made
and the wrapped dry bales were sufficiently dry before wrapping, they will last a long time, but we have
never tried to hold them over from one year to the next. We have found that the silage/balage that is
lower in moisture keeps better than the really wet bales.
The major downside, in our view, to wrapped bales is all that plastic. Not very eco-friendly, but we have
not figured out a better way to get our livestock through the winter that we can afford.
Jim Gerrish, author of 'Kick the Hay Habit' says that one horse will open up enough grazing for a number
of cattle. He also says that sheep will paw through the snow and open it up for cattle. Chris, do you
have experience with this? What is the snow cover like in northern Missouri where Greg Judy lives? Do
they tend to get the ice crusting on top of the snow that Yankee grazers have to contend with?
Deer, elk, and moose all get through New England winters by browsing, right? And stored fat. But I still
keep thinking that there has to be an ideal forage that will maintain quality when allowed to grow tall, so
it is more accessible in deeper snows.
But, Niko, if we keep working toward zero hay feeding, we can certainly extend our grazing season over
what it would be if we just did the set-stocking approach all summer, right?