Sunday, January 31, 2016

Forage fed sows

A long term goal here at Pastures is to get the sow herd to maintain partly on perennial feeds.  They are shown here eating baleage out of the new feeders built for us by a neighbor.  In summer, they graze the permanent pastures with the cattle herd. 

Winter cattle feeding

Spreading manure on cornstalks for the next crop.  It is easier to move hay than manure!  Hay feeding rings are moved toward the forground at each feeding.  The cow herd will cover about ten acres by spring.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Change is constant they say and it is evident on the farm.  At the New Year we stopped providing extra light to the hens, signalling them to take a break from laying.  Birds are daylength sensitive and egg production had been sloping down even with the artificial light.  They need a rest, to replenish their stores of calcium and other nutrients and we will start the lights again in late February to encourage production back to good levels. 

Another change is in our sow feeding.  This year we have been able to start the sow herd on wet bales of hay, the same ration the grass fed beef are getting.  Our goal is to push up the perennial plants like grass in their diet to mimic pasture and push the corn and soy down somewhat.  So far we have succeeded in keeping them on the summer ration plus the hay, which is a decrease in grain from other years.  We know perennials in the diet are good for the sows, and we believe that kind of production to be good for the earth as well.  It is exciting to think about how far we may be able to push this new system.  Change is constant!


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This year we had an extensive mud season just ahead of winter; two plus weeks of warm wet weather which filled all the lots and lanes with deep cattle and hog footprints just in time for freezeup in December.  With the annual spring mud season there is hope for dryout and a leveling of the bad footing as the season progresses, but for this fall event, we ended up ordering two loads of gravel to dump on top of the ground, giving the cattle decent access to their drinker and enabling us to actually drive our skidloader and even the loader tractor across the lane to get to the hay and bedding bales.  The first time ever for gravel in the winter.  Forty years of farming and no two years alike!