Using hay to import fertility and feed the pastures
When we took over the farm in 2015 the fields were constantly being cropped and hayed. Modern ag focuses on production at the expense of soil health and fertility. While we have good soils here, it's obvious that fertility is low and the pastures are nowhere near as productive as they have the potential to be. This winter, rather then feeding the cows down by the barn as usual, I focused on rotating them around the pastures and feed the hay directly on the pasture. By the time grazing starts in May I will have fed 200 round bales of hay or 50 to 60 tons of hay onto the pastures. That's a lot of manure, organic matter from wasted hay, and fertility to spread on 50 acres. A recent study I read indicated that pastures responded better to feeding hay directly on the field verses hauling manure and compost from the barn. More fertility is captured with winter bale feeding on pastures. So I'll get to see this summer. Either way 50 tons of hay (5 tons to the acre) should have a huge impact on the pastures. More fertility, means more grass, means more beef.
Unrolled hay bale. Spreads the fertility around the pasture and gives all the cows access to the dinner table.
Early February without snow and you can see where the cows have beemn. Covered this part of the farm really well.
Farthest and highest point on the farm. Typically hardest to get manure spread on but I fed a ton of hay up there this winter. Its a pretty good hill so even with heavy baleage I start at the top and push the bale down the hill to get it unrolled.