Baraula Orchardgrass Seeding for Hay and Pasture

January 6, 2010

Rejoice!  Baraula Orchardgrass seed is a steal this year compared to last year.

In my post, “2009 New Hay Seeding,” I detail how I planted a field to Baraula Orchardgrass and Alfalfa.  I didn’t plant any Baraula in 2009 because I was waiting to evaluate the quality and yield.  It was outstanding and I wrote about it in my post, “2009 Hay and Forage Summary.”

When I received the 2010 Welter seed catalog I immediately flipped to Baraula Orchardgrass and was happily surprised by the price of $122 for a 50 lb. bag.  Last year the price was $200.

I emailed Welter’s and asked why.  They said there is a much better supply this year.

The “law of supply and demand” works.  But it’s important to remember it may be supply and/or demand affecting the price.  I assumed the demand for Baraula must have been through the roof.  Looking back now I see all the Orchardgrasses were higher priced.  The seed companies must have had a poor yielding year.  So the price was affected more by supply than demand.

I realize I need to do what’s right for my farm.  I’m glad I tried some other species of grass last year as I look forward to evaluating them.

As for this year’s new seeding I’m going to plant all 59 acres to K500 Alfalfa, Climax Timothy, and Baraula Orchardgrass.

2009 Hay and Forage Summary

September 25, 2009


Cattle grazing my best hay field, September 24, 2009.

In my post, “2009 New Hay Seeding,” I promised summer yield statistics.  When the cattle finish grazing the hay field pictured, every hay field will have been harvested or grazed three times.  Here are the statistics.

All the hay was baled in 1500 lb. round bales.  Estimated moisture content is 15%.

1st cutting: 120.4 acres, 341 bales, 511,500 lbs., 4,248 lbs./acre.

2nd cutting: 82.1 acres, 127 bales, 190,500 lbs., 2,320 lbs./acre.

3rd cutting: 61.3 acres, 68 bales, 102,000 lbs., 1,664 lbs./acre.

Total: 88 average acres, 536 bales, 804,000 lbs., 9,136 lbs./acre.

The reason the number of acres declines from one cutting to the next is because I start grazing selected hay fields with the cattle instead of harvesting them by machine.  I do this to help mitigate the summer slump in pasture growth and keep my cattle gaining well.

I graze fields which are self-contained, (no corn strips as cattle are hard to keep out of corn fields).  And prefer fields which are difficult to access with manure.  Without manure, fields decline in fertility.  Grazing, instead of machine harvesting and feeding elsewhere, keeps more of the soil’s fertility in place.

Hay fields were grazed with the mob of 134 cows and 134 calves and 5 herd bulls.  Here are the grazing statistics:

1st grazing: 38.3 acres, 10 days, 3.83 acres/day.

2nd grazing: 59.1 acres, 15 days, 3.94 acres/day.

1st grazing corresponds to 2nd cutting and 2nd grazing corresponds to 3rd cutting.  So if I take the average yield for 2nd and 3rd cutting and multiply by the number of acres grazed/day, I find the equivalent amount of forage the mob was eating.

1st grazing: 3.83 acres x 2,320 lbs. = 8,885 lbs./day.

2nd grazing: 3.94 acres x 1,664 lbs. =6,556 lbs./day.

I’ll have to do more “cipherin” to figure if it’s more economical to hay or graze.  I do most of my heavy thinkin’ in the winter and will have an updated post for you then.  I’ll tell you one thing.  I prefer to graze 2nd and 3rd cutting and oftentimes that is how farmers make decisions.

Below is a close-up picture of the field pictured above.  It is 1st year hay with what I consider  the ideal mix of grass to hay.  My recipe was 10 lbs. alfalfa, 2lbs. Climax Timothy, and 4 lbs. Baraula Orchardgrass from Barenbrug Seeds.  Baraula is the latest maturing Orchardgrass I have ever used and I will be planting more of it next year.   This field yielded tremendously and makes me think about the potential for my farm.  Here are the statistics:

1st cutting: 12.1 acres, 61 bales, 91,500 lbs., 7,500 lbs./acre, 77% better than the average.

2nd cutting: 12.1 acres, 29 bales, 43,500 lbs., 3,595 lbs./acre, 55% better than the average.

As shown, it is being grazed now.  I was late getting the mob to this field so it will not be grazed anymore this year.  Most of the other hay fields will be grazed by the cattle in October/November after a killing frost but before the snow flies.


White Clover, Where Weeds Used to Grow

June 16, 2009


Birdsfoot Trefoil:  A beautiful legume.  Excellent for grazing.  Difficult to establish.

In my post, 2009 New Hay Seeding, I detailed forage plantings I have tried in the past. This is the recipe I tried in 2005.  Pounds are per acre.  “9 lbs. Birdsfoot Trefoil, no alfalfa, 4 lbs Climax Timothy, and 1 lb. Perennial Ryegrass on a bottom.  I envisioned a sea of yellow flowers prime for grazing on this creek bottom prone to flooding.   Instead, we had high weed pressure seeding year and the Trefoil never amounted to anything besides a plant here and there.”

Birdsfoot Trefoil is a unique plant.  It will live in wet conditions, which describes this creek bottom part of the year. It will maintain its quality for a longer period than most plants; so it can be stockpiled and grazed when it is needed.  It is also unique among the legumes because it will not cause cattle to bloat.  Can you see why I was excited to establish this plant?

My level of excitement was inversely proportional to my disappointment.  I spent a couple of hundred bucks on the Trefoil and I had to mow the weeds off several times just to make it look decent.

We considered rotating back into corn the next spring but did not.  We continued to mow and graze this pasture/hay field.  We didn’t make dry hay off of it because weeds don’t make good hay.

As we cussed and grazed this field, a curious thing happened.  It transformed itself.  Look at what I say about this pasture now.  “The good news is we had thick, tall Timothy the first couple of years and the Ryegrass just seems to keep getting thicker.  The cattle love grazing this field now.”

Instead of Birdsfoot Trefoil as the companion legume to the grasses, White Clover volunteered for the job.  We never planted White Clover, it just came.  Cattle love grazing White Clover.  There must be a tremendous amount of seed, sitting in the soil, just waiting for conditions to be right.  Look at this pasture, now.  Beautiful!

City-girlfriend is a new addition to my blog.  She is not a new addition to my life.  Last year about this time we started a relationship and struggled through seven months.  Like the Trefoil, each of us had an idea about what the relationship should look like.  Weeds!

After five months apart, we tentatively started seeing each other again.  It’s early, but we’re finding some White Clover where weeds used to grow.