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Forage takes Know-How, Hard Work

May 7, 2013
 
 

Jon Patterson

Jon Patterson
Auburn, N.Y.

Jon Patterson’s dairy milks 1,100 cows on a farm that’s been in the family since 1832.

 

 


Our crew works very hard to put up the highest-quality feed Mother Nature will allow. Then we make sure the best of that feed is delivered to the dairy cows every day of the year.

We raise all our own heifers, and any feed that is questionable goes to them. We also grow 25% of our grain corn that we put up as ground high-moisture shelled corn in upright silos.

We grow alfalfa grass mixes and cut every 28 days, weather permitting. We have taken five cuttings of hay for the past two years, and we are happy with that.

We hired a custom operator to cut and merge our hay crops for two cuttings in 2012 to help us get the hay off the ground and in the bunk as soon as possible. The custom mower has three 10' mowers on one tractor that he lays out flat to have the sun do more of the drying than it did with our 16' mower with an 8'-wide swath.

Fifty percent of our silage corn is a brown midrib (BMR) variety that is stored separately from the conventional corn silage. We feed this to our high cows and fresh cows to get the most milk out of the BMR silage that we can. The BMR corn is planted on the best ground, and we do our best to protect the crop from any pest or diseases that may damage it. 

We pack as much as possible with two to four tractors on the pile if space will allow, trying to use a pay loader to pack along the walls of the bunk.

Feed-out is done with a telescoping loader with a grinder attachment. This helps mix the forages and keep the air out of the pile of feed. This also helps keep smooth sides if we split a pile of feed, limiting the amount of spoiled feed.

Patterson’s most recent prices

Milk
$20.21 (3.83 bf, 3.21 prt)

Cull cows   
$73.10/cwt.

Springing heifers  
$1,800/head

Alfalfa hay (milk cow)  
$375/ton

Cottonseed  
$320/ton

Corn meal
$281/ton

Canola 
$318/ton

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