Well Spring has finally arrived in Southern Minnesota! That's the good news, the bad news is that we're quickly finding out what lingering damages exist from the Drought of 2012. As spring starts, usually our alfalfa fields start to green up just like perennials in a flower garden, but this year the plants have been really slow to green up.
We work very closely with a agronomist who has been scouting our fields for weeks already. He's not finding very good news for us. We know at this moment that we will need to re-seed at least 40 acres of alfalfa that never made it through the winter. We planted this field last fall, and thanks to the drought only half of the seeds germinated, the other half sat in the field for the winter. Those seeds that did germinate never made it through the rough winter, as they didn't have enough moisture in the fall to get a good start. Moral of the story: 40 acres of alfalfa seed is now dead or rotten. Yuck!
Since we were building our lagoon last year we also postponed planting an additional 40 acres of alfalfa....so we need to plant 80 acres of alfalfa, hopefully this week! It's possible these fields will yield at least one cutting of haylage for us this year, but we're going to need some serious rain and sunshine to push it along. So that leaves us with the remaining fields from the past years (we plant a field of alfalfa and keep it for about 3-4 years). While the acres are small, they are very valuable....our only source for alfalfa for the summer. We still don't know that status of these fields. Hopefully with 70's in the forecast, we will have excellent news by the end of the week!
So what does this mean for the cows??? Well, we have already worked with our nutritionist and lowered the amount of alfalfa haylage in the cows' diet and replaced it with more corn silage. Our inventory of haylage from 2012 is disappearing VERY quickly! We'll be completely out in only a couple weeks. Alfalfa is a very important feed to our cows, supplying protein and fiber, so we want to continue to feed it while we can. By adding more corn silage we will be using more of our inventory than we expected as well...which means in August we may be rationing out our corn silage and replacing it with haylage....it's a balancing act. Ultimately we will continue to do our best to make the best forages possible for our cows....sacrificing nothing for our cows...they deserve the best care & nutrition!