Rarely in Kentucky do we get better weather windows to make hay than we did this past month. To start the month of June at Eden Shale we had eight consecutive days with no rain. We then had half an inch, followed by another 6 days of dry weather. During that time period I don’t think there was a hay field anywhere in Kentucky that wasn’t baled!
So far, the hay has turned out better than expected in both quantity and quality. Our wheat that we wrapped made 66 bales this year, where as it usually makes around 40. The first cutting also made slightly more than usual but we did apply a little more fertilizer this spring. One thing I did notice was the hay was not overly mature as you would expect in June. The long slow start to the growing season put the grass far enough behind that it was not fully mature when we cut it. The mower hardly had any seeds on it at all. As always, we will get the hay analyzed to know exactly what we have, but my first impression is that it is better than in years past.
During the hay making frenzy our tractors from H&R Agri Power hit the maximum hours allowed. I called them up and requested two more and they had them delivered the next week. I would like to thank H&R Agri Power for their continued support of Eden Shale by allowing us access to quality tractors. We truly appreciate it.
This summer we are conducting a demonstration with cull cows. We currently have 24 cull cows that were purchased from the stockyards that are grazing in the paddocks. They are broken into groups of 4 head and are grazing different treatments. Two groups are in Chaparral treated paddocks, two groups are in clover renovated paddocks, and two are in the control paddocks. The cows are being weighted and body condition scored after each rotation through their 3 paddock assignment for 60 days, at which point they will be harvested through the Beef Solutions program. We also have 20 head in the barn that are broken into 4 groups and are being fed two different rations. They too are being weighed and will be harvested for Beef Solutions. Stay tuned for the results of this demonstration.
In other activity, we have three big construction projects getting ready to kick off with Dr. Higgins. These are some new and innovative techniques for winter feeding and water harvesting. Holding true to the purpose of Eden Shale, these new projects are completely different than anything we have done at the farm to date, and you are going to want to come see them in the fall at our Open House Field Day. Stay tuned for more information about these projects and others that will be featured at the Open House Field Day on October 13th.
There is no debating that this spring has shown the stranger side of Kentucky weather. The cool weather just refused to go away, surprising us with multiple April snow days. But hopefully we can put all that in the rearview mirror and focus on the work at hand now that the weather has improved.
As I’m sure is the case with most everyone else, we got our fertilizer spread late this year. The first cutting hay crop looks to be short and thin compared to normal, but hopefully we continue to get some moisture throughout the summer and the second cutting can make up for it.
Calving season went well again this year despite all the mud in February and March. We ended up with an AI conception rate of 66% for the first calf heifers, and 60% for the cows. We also had 68% of the calf crop on the ground in the first 30 days of the calving season. The main calving season lasted 50 days, not counting the handful of stragglers that always have to drag it out. Despite the muddy conditions, this years calving was a success.
Due to the muddy conditions we had to divide the cows up into more groups than we normally do to be able to spread the mud out and not tear up each feeding location quite as much. This meant that there was a lot more manure to clean up than usual. Last year we hauled around 40 loads of manure onto hay fields, and this year I would estimate that we have close to double that amount that needs spread. We also worked on repairing a lot of damaged areas that needed reseeded. We lightly disced the areas and then drilled in rye grass to try to get some quick cover on them. With the cooler weather they have not germinated as quickly as I would have liked but I am still hopeful.
As spring time get kicked into full gear I hope that you find enough time to get everything accomplished. It is a challenging time with so many task demanding your attention, but if it means winter is over, then I am up for the challenge.