Jul 31, 2014
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February 2014 Archive for 100% Grass-Fed

RSS By: Randy Kuhn, Beef Today

Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.

Graze your Woods

Feb 24, 2014

 Ever Try Forest Grazing?

 

   Prior to 1940, farmers turning their pigs out into the wooded areas of their farms in the Southeastern part of this country was a very common practice.  In the winter the pigs were than brought back to the farm "proper" and fed left-over corn stalks and other crop residues.  The hardwood species of tree’s such as the mighty oaks and chestnuts throughout the Appalachian region provided nut’s which pig’s love, and fortunately do very well on.  Pigs are still fed chestnuts but by a much smaller percentage of producers, and those pigs that are, are reported by consumers to be the sweetest tasting pork they’ve ever had.  The tall broad branched Chestnut tree’s also provided much needed shade during the sweltering heat of the summer.   Pig’s fed acorns are very low in saturated fat and high in healthy Oleic Acid, which is another advantage for producers and consumers alike.   In Spain this type of pork sell’s for up to $40 per pound!!  Unfortunately you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in this country willing to pay $15 per pound for healthy Pork.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but don’t let the prior mentioned statistics dash your dreams.

 

This kind of land clearing/pasturing is most commonly know as silvo-pasturing.

 

   Silvo-pasturing is relatively new in the Northeast as a deliberate and recognized land use. Silvopasture practitioners, or "silvograziers", may arrive from a starting point with small or large-scale traditional livestock production, woodland management, or other agricultural interests.  Silvopasturing is an agroforestry system used to produce both livestock and forest products on the same land over an extended period of time. It can be thought of as a hybrid between well-managed pastures and well-managed woodlands. The term implies skilled management, beneficial outcomes, deliberate attention to multiple objectives, and symbiosis between grazing animals and their wooded environment. A silvopasture can be developed from one of two perspectives: enriching open pastures with trees, or modifying natural forests and plantations through thinning to develop

forage plants in the understory. But regardless of the origin, silvopasturing requires careful attention to the production of sufficient quality forage, to sound livestock husbandry, and to sustainable woodland practices – and also to the practitioner’s goals.

 

   If you’ve seen the movie FOOD INC., than you know who Virginia farmer Joel Salatin is.  He is the best example of a sustainable farmer that I can think of.  If you ever have the time to hear him speak or visit his farm DO IT!  You’ll be glad you did.  Joel say’s that pigs are excellent at taking recently logged forest land and transforming it into lush pasture.  And with the current and future outlook on diesel prices, especially in Pennsylvania, we can use all the cost savings we can get.  Joel also stated that pig’s love the roots and bark of left-over saplings and will eat the left behind roots and bark from cut trees.  A fellow producer of ours in Caton, NY found this out first hand when we expanded his pig pastures to include what was at that time a wooded area.  2 years later it’s mostly open pastures now.  He didn’t even worry about cutting the trees down, the pigs did that!   Joel’s oldest pig pastures have naturally produced a mixture of perennial ryegrass & crabgrass.  He has no idea where the seeds came from because he didn’t seed the pastures with those varieties.  And those pig pastures are the only pastures on his sprawling Virginia farm with perennial ryegrass.  Pretty cool huh?

   So if you have land that has been logged recently and in most cases the pitch of land is much steeper than you would like to try and mow with your brush hog & tractor, try a forest hog!  Berkshires, Hampshires, and our favorites TAM-ROC PIGS, are best suited for this kind of land clearing.

Got Snow?

Feb 05, 2014

 Supplemental Winter Feeding

 

  

   During the winter; "Quality" hay, "Mol-Mag" type mineral blocks or tub’s, and other supplements should be fed to help cattle produce enough energy to stay warm AND continue putting on their recommended daily gains. If feeding in a pasture during the winter months the feeding location should be moved often in order to avoid degrading the pasture. If animals are contained and fed at one central location a heavy use area protection (stabilized feeding area) should be installed to control manure and surface water runoff.

 

   Adjustments to energy intake must be made to cope with winter conditions like everyone is experiencing today.  A practical rule of thumb is to increase energy intake by 1% for each degree of coldness below the lower critical temperature of a cow.  For practical purposes, a 20 degree F temperature can be used as the lower critical temperature.  If the outside temperature is 0 degrees F with calm wind speed, then energy intake should be increased 20%.  If daily TDN requirement during this period is 11.2/lbs., then an additional 2 pounds TDN are required to prevent stress on your cattle.

 

      The National Research Council (NRC) indicates that a 1,300-pound cow requires a ration with 1.59 pounds of protein and 10.1 pounds of TDN during the middle third of gestation and 1.98 pounds of protein and 12.7 pounds of TDN during late gestation.  There is considerable variability in the nutritional values of forages; therefore, it is important to have a laboratory analysis of your forages.   Benchmark values suggested by the NRC include:  grass hay, 55% TDN and 10% crude protein (CP); mature alfalfa hay, 50% TDN and 14% CP.

A 1,000-pound, yearling heifer requires approximately the same amount of TDN and CP as a 1,300-pound mature cow.  If possible. first-calf heifers should be fed apart from the cow herd because they typically will not compete well with mature cows.   Cows in good condition at calving will generally cycle well at 60 days post-calving whether they lose or gain weight after calving.  However, cows that calve in moderate or thin condition will usually cycle and conceive late.  Many will have difficulty maintaining a 12-month calving interval.

 

   Increasing alfalfa in a beef cow diet can be an excellent way to meet increasing protein requirements. This can be accomplished by feeding hay with a higher percent alfalfa hay, feeding a portion of forage as alfalfa or feeding the desired amount of alfalfa once a week.

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