Fingers crossed

Fingers crossed this is the start of a, ‘from little things big things grow’ story.
These tiny little seedlings will hopefully form part of our cows summer diet. The seed was sown directly into the stubble of a silage crop 6 days ago.

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I’m impressed how quickly these little forage rape plants have got up and going on only existing soil moisture.

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Kimchi for cows

Fermented foods seem to be all the rage at the moment. Our cows, like so many other20180227_115755-011750847233.jpeg cows around Australia, have been on the fermented food bandwagon for years. At this time of the year as our pasture dries off and growth slows we often supplement their diet with silage. Silage is fermented pasture harvested in the spring when we have excess pasture growth, the spring pasture is fermented in large stacks so our cows can have a taste of lush spring grass whenever we don’t have green grass on hand.

0203-2018-050071104888287431903355252.jpegThe cows seem to love tucking into their on-trend’ fermented diet.

0203-2018-061373040514712741462755829.jpegWho knows whats next?  The girls might be getting around wearing yoga pants sipping on kombucha.

 

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Topping off summer

Managing our pastures has been a challenge this summer(a challenge in a good way).20180209_092947-01.jpg

Some of our mixed species perennial pastures have got a bit over mature, they look pretty with all those flowers but they aren’t the best feed for our girls. We’re letting the cows eat what they want and cutting off what they don’t want. This should set our pastures up perfectly for autumn rains.

 

Posted in Agriculture, Dairy, Pasture, Summer, Weather | 1 Comment

WWW -The Winter We Wanted

We had a long dry spell our region leading up to this winter, our fodder supplies were low and our pastures were struggling. The pastures needed rain and time to get their roots down and build reserves, the farm looked tired.

20160720_122239-01We’re now half way through winter and our pastures are booming along.The pasture cover on the farm is just where I’d like to see it at this time of year. Yes, we have had some cold days and some wild weather but hey if you farm in South Gippsland you have to expect that.

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Back on the horse

The motivation to get back on the horse, blow the dust off MontroseDairy.com & start blogging again came from a recent trip to Melbourne. I go to Melbourne often for meetings and usually enjoy the contrast of the city, to life on the farm.  This visit was different, it was a weekend off in the big smoke, a few nice meals and a slower pace to my normal city visits.

A few things struck me eating out at places like Supernormal & Manchester Press;

  1. There appears to be a shortage of chairs in Melbourne, stools seem to be all the go and lining up in the street before you are seated on your stool is not uncommon.
  2. The disconnect between food producers and food consumers continues to grow.

My first point may just say I need to get out more often and my second point is no new revelation.

I am concerned that in an environment where a sector of our society and media is obsessed with gourmet food and engaging with a very small number of boutique producers, the vast majority of Australia’s farmers who produce amazing, safe and clean food and feed the nation are increasingly disconnected with consumers.  Yes this is nothing new and something the Australian agricultural sector often discusses, but it was my reminder of why I started MontroseDairy.com.

Sun breaking through this morning after a few days of rain.

MontroseDairy.com is all about life on our dairy farm and how we go about producing food & caring for the environment. So follow MontroseDairy.com, Like our facebook page  and follow @Hoddlecows on twitter learn about how we do things at Montrose Dairy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Checking in on the BIG boys

Some of our bull calves all grown up

I enjoy checking in on cattle after I have sold them to other farms, it’s good to see how they have grown up and how they are going with their new owner. Recently I went to see how some of our 2012 bull calves are going and how they have grown up.

Each year we rear lots of calves at Montrose Dairy, the heifers are kept to grow up and join our dairy or beef herd and the bull calves are sold when they are 6-10 months old.

 

The dairy bred bull calves grow up more ‘leggy’ than traditional bred beef cattle and are slower to fill out but given the right conditions they are great at converting feed to body weight.

IMG_1870Some of our dairy cows are joined to Angus and Angus/Simmental bulls most of these calves come out black, they grow up looking like big, long legged Angus cattle.

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Plans sometimes need to be changed

Waking early most mornings to collect the cows for milking I sometimes head off in the dark thinking here we go again, ground hog day.  But what I love about my job is each day is different and as much as we do plan days, weeks or years there are so many variables in dairy farming.  Plans sometimes need to be changed.  The planning is still very valuable as it provides us with a base line to work from.

Grass is cut and wilted before it is collected and fermented to be stored as silage

Grass is cut and wilted before it is collected and fermented to be stored as silage

This year we planned to harvest as much silage as we could.  In early September it looked like the perfect year to build some fodder reserves, the grass growing well and we had a strong milk price to pay for lots of fodder conservation. Pit silage (wilted green grass stored in a compacted stack covered with a plastic tarp to keep the water and air out) can last for years and provides valuable reserves for years when fodder is in short supply.

Like so often the best laid plans…..

Pasture growth rates through late September and early October have been around a 75% of our average for this time of the year. As a result we don’t have as much surplus fodder to make into silage as we would like. Nevertheless we have kicked off our fodder harvesting season this week making a small stack of silage.

This year we are picking up our silage with a jumbo sized silage wagon, so far so good.

This year we are picking up our silage with a jumbo sized silage wagon, so far so good.

There is still plenty of time this season to build some reserves and we will continue with our plan to harvest as much fodder as we can. Conserving surplus fodder aids with risk management and helps to make our business more resilient .

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