cows in field

Message from the NODPA Co-President

By Kirk Arnold, NODPA Co-President

Our farm had a very dry year in which our mostly cool season grasses, and even legumes, struggled to produce. We normally grow 20-40 acres of corn with the intent to harvest it as high-moisture shell corn. It's also nice to have it as back-up forage in years where grass and legumes perform poorly. We've ended up chopping it the last two years.

Now that I have more experience feeding corn silage and seeing the effects on the herd, I'm considering growing some every year for the benefits it provides. The addition of corn silage to the ration has had the unexpected consequence of tightening up the manure consistency, which makes milking and chores much more enjoyable. Instead of splattering all over the barn, the manure forms a tidy pile that is easily cleaned. We add 35 pounds per cow to the total mix ration, which also includes 85 pounds per head of high-quality haylage. Apparently, the leaves of the corn silage in the rumen slow things down enough to do the trick.

I certainly don't love doing tillage or cultivating corn, so I'm trying to find a different crop that will be less labor-intensive and fit into our cropping program while still being a drought-year insurance plan. I can't seem to find any research that has been done on this kind of thing. One possibility I want to try is a dry stalk BMR sorghum that could be planted after first cutting; have it direct harvested; then follow it with a no-till fall grain like triticale. But I've yet to find anyone who knows if this would indeed give us the desired results.

Kirk Arnold, NODPA Co-President

Truxton, NY---607-842-6631