One of the ideas that I had in my early farming dreams was raising the feed for my animals on my own ground. In industry they call it vertical integration. Not a new idea by any stretch, but one that seems to be particularly attractive to farmers.
The livestock that I have is primarily pigs, but I'm transitioning to cows and I expect I'll have more pounds of cows (animal units of cows) by 2017... but pigs and cows eat different things, so to pursue the dream of producing my own feed I have to go two different directions.
|The last of the corn going in. If you look carefully in the distance you'll see the tractor|
I call them crops because they're planted; you use a different device to get the crop in, but it takes some time and effort to do it right. One established there's the time and effort to bring the crop into the barn, and even the grazed areas need some care and attention. Mowing, to keep the weeds from developing seedheads, observation to avoid bare spots (and replant any that appear) and moving the cows from place to place to make sure that the pasture gets rest periods for regrowth.
|only two more rows to go|
the 20 or so acres of corn I've put in this year in theory will produce 87 or so tons of corn at the end of the season -- not silage, but the grain corn itself. That's calculated to be enough to feed the pigs through an entire year with the carbohydrate portion of their diet. So far so good. I'm hoping that I can get it in, and store it, in good enough shape that I can substantially reduce my feed order starting this fall.
With the forage I'm about 33% done with that already. I'll take another hay cutting around june 20th, weather permitting, and if that works out that'll put me well over 50% on the forage side.
So it's a little like managing two different projects.
|Pictures taken where the orange, yellow and red lines intersect, facing north towards the river|