Tuesday, March 30, 2010

With temperatures quickly rising towards the seventies, all graziers are rejoicing in that we are hopefully beginning to leave the horrible weather of the past months behind us. Years from now we will talk of the repeated efforts digging out trails of snow just to get to our animals to feed them only to be followed by the bigger challenge, wallowing through the mud to get late winter, early spring feed to animals getting closer and closer to birthing. There are many "experts" who chime in that supplementing ruminants with winter feed is silliness and the difference in making a profit or not. They would say that making hay is foolishness. I would agree that the less hay you make and the more grazing you do, the better off you will be financially, unless . . . Mother Nature forgets to read the rule book and decides to dump heavy snow on you the first week of December and then follow that up with another 30 or 40 inches mixed with intermittent ice storms and rain effectively completely shutting off any grazing from December through April. Those cattle and sheep have to eat. The challenge becomes feeding them as economically as possible once you find yourself in need of feed. We are using cornstalk bales, CRP hay and excess forage we harvested off of our pastures last spring. Some would argue that there are better combinations and I would love to hear what you're doing. The best thing I did the past year was to hold off the beginning of breeding season for both our cows and ewes. As of today we still have no little critters on the ground and have dodged many of the horror stories I've heard from fellow producers trying to save animals in the past month of mud, rain and cold weather. Next year, I'm going to back up the onset of our calving season yet another two weeks. Good grazing to you, Bill

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