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Question for Grant. . .from a Michigan livestock/permie farmer

 
Ben Smith
Posts: 8
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Grant--I was looking at your earlier post with the farm overhead shot post-hay cutting. We are in zone 5 Southwest/central Michigan with beef cattle (feeders), pastured pigs, chickens, fruit trees, pasture, woods, etc--100+ acres, reverting to polyculture from monoculture. I was somewhat surprised to see the quantity of your land that you cut hay from. I realize you are mulching, and overwintering stock, but how do you replace those nutrients post-cutting so you can continue to get that high-quality pasture? Are you holding them back and grazing the entire farm after first cutting? With our similar climates, would it be possible for either of us to stockpile enough to graze all year? Would you consider buying hay from another farm?

Thanks for your work, Ben
 
Grant Schultz
Posts: 219
Location: Iowa City, Iowa Zone 5
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Great question Ben.

When that shot was taken, we were just beginning to establish grazing infrastructure (perimeter fence, pipeline, waterers, etc) and we hadn't scaled up livestock yet. We're still underutilizing existing forage. (Anyone want to lend some permies $200k for a badass herd of cattle?) With no infrastructure to graze everything, it's OK to sell hay. Some of it was stockpiled for future mulch, some of it was immediately raked as mulch.

You can always run high stocking rates and bring fertility right back in from offsite by buying in hay and bale grazing or unrolling bales in the field. It made sense for us at the time, and I stand by the decision.

The only hay I'd buy in is from a place and person I know as clean, chemical-free hay.

Stockpiled forage - I'm in zone 5b. Stockpiling does work, but depending on the weather and snow loads I think most producers this far north still feed hay for a month or two.
 
Ben Smith
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Thank you, Grant. . .our situation was similar--tons of grass, but not tons of livestock yet. We are buying feeder cattle from good sources in Michigan now, and they are high in price, but very marketable. Cattle breeding and herd building will take a bite out of your bank account for sure. . .
 
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