Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hay Days

"Making hay while the sun shines" describes activity on our dairy farm this week. In this last week of July weather conditions of sunshine and 100 degrees have been perfect for cutting,baling, and wrapping quality hay that will be used to feed our dairy and beef cattle. Farmers in Northwest Arkansas are known for being experts in growing Bermuda hay but you can also find a smorgasbord of other grasses such as fescue,orchard, and crab grass. All of our cattle will be fed hay that we have grown. Baby calves will enjoy small square bales of hay and as the cattle grow and develop they will be fed large round bales or wrapped hay bales. Wrapping hay started on our farm two years ago when we bought a machine called a bale wrapper to utilize the grasses that are available to us. The grass that we were cutting this week was a mixture of fescue and bermuda. The grass was cut, allowed to dry or cure for a day,baled and then wrapped. Wrapping protects the hay quality for feeding through the year and actually turns the hay into silage that the cows love to eat. You can think of this as candy for cows without cavities! Before we feed the hay to our cattle, we will send a sample of hay to the lab for quality analysis. Our dairy nutritionist will use the hay analysis to formulate a nutrition recipe for our cows that will provide a scientifically balanced diet to insure proper growth of our animals and produce quality milk. Hay production like every job and activity on the farm is all about making our family farm sustainable for the future by caring for our animals,being good stewards of the land, and producing a quality product for all consumers.

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