We have 85 milking cows that are rotationally grazed from around May 10th through October 10th. We went to seasonally milking this spring. Currently we have 30 heifers to be bred and 20 beef cattle also from all the fresh cows we had, there are 70 small calves. We own 209 acres of which 177 acres is tillable. We are renting an additional 140 acres. Our main crops are corn and hay. We are a family operation with my wife and I doing most of the work. We usually have some part time work to help with the hay.
Before this grant we were rotational grazing 4-5 years. We also did no till corn and minimal till corn from 1986-90.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
This project was started because we were watering some of our cattle out of the creek and they were eroding the band quite heavily and deteriorating the creek life.
We needed a cheap, efficient, flexible and durable watering system we called Ben Bartlett at MSU and he directed us to Kentucky Grazers out of Paris, KY. Sense we started getting water out to our cows in each paddock we have gained 6 lbs. of milk per cow per day.
We use 1 inch and 1 ¼ inch black plastic high UV, stretch memory pipe. The cows can step on this pipe and not damage it and the sun does not easily deteriorate it. I have the hydrant in the lane so one hydrant can take care of 4 paddocks. We use 100 gallon tanks with full flow valves in them. This size is used so the cows can not completely drink them down yet we can tip them over to move them.
The other people involved in the project are Don Fritz, Arenac Co. FSA. He helped with some of the cost share of this project. Then there was Tim Bonhuff, NRC. He helped to determine the flow rates through the pipe and at what pressure. Also George Portice from the Ogemaw Co. CES helped with getting publications out in his county and surrounding counties. And finally Ken Kernstock, Arenac Co. CES. He helped with putting the grant together and the note book we handed our on our field day.
The things we learned most from the grant was a large increase in milk production and the creek bank looking a lot better. This year we are also seeing more water fowl.
The methods of telling others started with the two CES agents, Ken and George. They sent out newsletters to area farmers that might be interested. Then we put together a field day at our farm to show people what we did and what the results were. We had about 15 people show up. I was also interviewed by the Michigan Farmer.