Summer Heat Makes Winter Feed

According to the Weather.com app on my phone, it’s 102 degrees F on our farm and feels like 108 degrees F. That’s hot by anyone’s standards and when it comes after almost a week of 90-plus-degree days, the app should just state “oven-like conditions outside.”

A chopper cuts the corn plants and immediately despots the pieces into a grain truck, which travels alongside the chopper.
A chopper cuts the corn plants and immediately despots the pieces into a grain truck, which travels alongside the chopper.

In addition to our Angus cow herd, we raise crops on our farm outside McPherson, Kan. About half of our acres are irrigated, which means other half are at the whim of Mother Nature. Unfortunately this summer, she hasn’t been too giving with the rain. For our non-irrigated (or dryland) crops, high temperatures and little rain is a recipe for disaster.

But as the heat continues on, we are thinking cool thoughts, specifically about our mother and baby cows who will be home this winter and in need of quality, hearty feedstuffs to thrive during the cold winter months.

One of our successes in raising quality beef is the ability to use feed from our own farm. Outside of any dry distillers used, we grow all of the feed for our cattle on our farm. We control the quality and the nutritional value of that feed and can trace it from the field to the feed bunk.

Our cattle, therefore, have gained a reputation for being not only locally born and raised, but also grown on a diet of local crops, grains and grass. We love watching our cattle grow and thrive and its even better when you know exactly what’s going in the bunk.

Earlier this week we finished chopping all of our dryland corn to create silage. The end product is a mixture of every part of the corn plant, from the stalk to the ear. The cattle end up with an energy-rich meal. In the past, we’ve also created silage from our milo and soybeans that have suffered from a lack of moisture. Chopping the corn allows us to fully utilize all of the resources on our farm and feed our animals crops straight from our soil.

We’re never happy to miss the rains but we’re fortunate to be able to put our failed crops to good use in feeding our growing cows.


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