Saturday, September 1, 2012

Kansas Drought 2012 - Part 2

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade...and when Mother Nature gives you a drought, make silage!
This is supposed to be milo--or grain sorghum as it is also called. But the drought has kept it from producing a head of grain. With no grain, it is of very little value....except we can feed the stalks to cattle.
Huge cracks in the field show the lack of moisture. This crack is nearly an inch across and too deep to measure.
We can use the plant as feed for cattle...if the equipment continues to work! Sometimes when we feed drought-stressed milo, it may have dangerous levels of nitrates because of the drought. So we must test the feed value and nitrate levels before we feed it to cattle. It can kill a cow in less than an hour!

After contemplation by a number of farmers, the equipment begins to run again. Yes, those are gas cans to the side!! No comment.... (By the way, that is my hubby with his head under the hood and hand on his hip. Farmers must be mechanics as well as many other jobs!
The chopped plant is dumped into a pit made with hay bales. This is a temporary "pit" as we will also feed the bales that form the sides as the winter goes on. Many temporary pit silos are being built this year to take advantage of the extra silage that the drought has "provided." If we had rain, we wouldn't have needed to cut the crop for silage.

A heavy tractor pushes the plant material onto a large pile and drives back and forth over it to pack it. Once it has been packed, it begins to ferment and that breaks down the structure of the plant, allowing cattle to access more nutrients. They love silage. And it is one of the things we can feed when hay is in short supply!

For more information, check out Kansas Drought 2012 - Part 1 and
Kansas Drought 2012 - Part 3


2 comments:

  1. We wrap a lot of our first cutting of grass in plastic in a long row of 100 bales. This allows us to cut earlier whenever it is difficult to get drying days. Otherwise the grass can get too mature. The cattle do like it. Usually we get too much rain in the winter to store silage the way you do.

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  2. Debbie and family,

    Sorry for your misfortune with the drought you are experiencing. I sometimes cuss that we live in an area with a normal rainfall of 7 inches per year but at least a drought for us is 5 inches in a year and depending on timing it does not affect us as much. Thankfully we do have some irrigation. Stay strong and faithful, I am sure a long term producer like you and your family will endure!

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