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May 2012 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.

Grass Weight

May 18, 2012

GRASS WEIGHT

 

The cost of cattle production is rising and producers seeking to put more grass weight on their cattle are finding that sound pasture management has never been more attractive and/or profitable.

 

Here are some tips on increasing your forages, with the first one being….

-          Consult county Extension experts about the specifics of your local area before proceeding.

-          Stockpiled forages. Setting aside a supply of forage to use after forage growth has ended in the fall is called "stockpiling" or "deferred grazing."   When pastures are managed for deferred grazing, a compromise sometimes has to be made between yield and quality, since the highest yield often produces lower quality forage.

 

   Forages adaptable to stockpiling include perennials such as…

-          Tall fescue

-          Orchardgrass

-          Ryegrass

 

Overseeding a pasture or hayfield will increase both quantity and quality of forage.  But beware!  As I learned from adding too much clover and alfalfa to our pasture mix, if you plan to take a "1st cutting" off your pastures in the spring prior to turning out your cattle, It’ll take forever to dry and bail.  And if you do small square bail’s, your wife will complain the whole time your unloading the wagons!  Sorry Hon.

 

Up here in North-East PA, sometimes drydown can take as long as 5-6 day’s depending on the relative humidity and overnight temperatures.  However. Summer pastures over-seeded with Legumes work best for providing a nitrogen source and improving pasture quality.   The legumes that work best, no matter where in the country you live, are red and white clovers.   But you also need to watch for bloat and/or grass tetany in early spring if your cattle have been accustomed to dry hay all winter.

 

Cool season pastures. "Cool season grasses which obviously aren’t growing in the North/East this week, can help you extend the green period across as much of the growing period as possible and improve livestock weight gain.   Perennial cool season pasture grasses grow in dry land conditions not drought stricken area’s and can supplement native range by providing a month or more of nutritious grazing in the spring and possibly again in the fall.

 

Rotational grazing.   A rotational grazing program such as what we use on our farm/ranch, uses several pastures with one being grazed while the others are rested.  We divide our pasture into smaller areas

called paddocks and move our cattle from one to the next, determined by the number, size and condition of our cattle, rate of forage growth which is directly related to weather, or the lack thereof and layout of the paddocks.

 

The practice of rotational grazing can increase net profit

by reducing the cost of machinery, fuel and storage facilities;

and by cutting back on supplemental feeding and pasture waste.

 

Extended Grazing.  We leave our herd on pasture into the fall and winter, utilizing perennial pastures held in reserve, otherwise referred to as "stockpiling forages".   For those of you who supplement your cattle with feed, it has been estimated that each day your cattle graze on pasture, your feed costs could be cut in half.

 

Another advantage to grazing your cattle in rotational pastures/paddocks.  Costs of hauling manure is reduced, and nutrients are returned to the land naturally to be used by growing forages while in the rest cycle of your rotational grazing program.

100% Grass-fed Perfection

May 05, 2012

BEEFALO = 100% Grass-fed Perfection

 

BEEFALO is an all-American breed of cattle developed by crossing the American bison or buffalo

with domestic cattle breeds.

   The general hope when crossing two breeds is to produce calves which have the best attributes of both parents. This doesn't always happen and sometimes it's the more undesirable traits that appear. But in the case of BEEFALO, the outcome of crossing bovines and bison is always positive.  The bison genetics provide hardiness, ease of calving (small birth weights), meat quality and a wider variance of foraging abilities while the domestic breed genetics provided the fertility, better milk production and a docile temperament.  In addition, hybrid vigor and genetic strength were passed on to the offspring.

   There are several domestic bovine breeds currently being used to produce BEEFALO.  Older established breeds such as Angus, Brahman and Hereford are used as are some newer breeds which are themselves the result of crossbreeding such as Droughtmaster and Brangus.  On our farm we have Red Angus Beefalo, Hereford Beefalo and Charolais Beefalo.  Pure-blood Beefalo are 3/8 bison and 5/8 bovine.  If an animal has more than 3/8 bison it is known as a 'bison hybrid'.

Why we chose BEEFALO

   American bison are the original masters of 100% Grass-foraging and can thrive on land which would not be considered for "domestic" cattle.  Over time, severe climatic conditions such as famine and drought have produced genetically sound and physically tough animals.  Although Beefalo calves are small at birth, they are vigorous. They begin grazing at a relatively early age and grow more quickly than their domestic bovine counterparts.  Sexual maturity occurs later than in some European breeds such as Angus, but they then reproduce over a longer period, bearing more calves in their lifespan.  Our oldest Beefalo cow is 13 years old and still producing health vigorous calves.

Some of the more outstanding features of the BEEFAO are:

  • Hardiness – the double coats and more numerous sweat glands of the beefalo (most of them) gives them greater tolerance of both hot and cold conditions.
  • Lower production costs – a strong constitution, resistance to disease, adaptability, longevity and foraging abilities mean less money and time spent on husbandry issues.
  • Resistance to disease
  • Faster growth rates – Beefalo calves begin to graze at a younger age than bovine calves thus weight gain is faster.
  • Longer productive life – Beefalo females can be expected to raise at least fourteen calves during their productive life.
  • Cross breeding – hybrid vigor is increased by using Beefalos in a cross-breeding program. The offspring will be tougher with heavier weaning weights, greater longevity and greater resistance to disease.
  • Lower fat ratios – Beefalo cattle have lower levels of cholesterol and fats. The meat has a higher protein level, less calories and lower levels of total fats and saturated fats.
  • Less calving problems – lower birth weights would seem to indicate that weaning and yearling weights would not be acceptable but because Beefalo calves start grazing early, good weights are obtained at an early age. Depending on the domestic breed, birth weights can be anywhere between 45 and 85 pound.
  • Good conversion – the bison factor results in good conversion of even poor quality roughage into meat.
  • A quieter disposition inherited from domestic cattle means the beefalo is easier to handle.


Read more about BEEFALO at: http://www.TheKuhnFamilyFarm.com

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