January 30, 2022 at 7:17 p.m.
Describe your farm and facilities. We milk 800 goats, finish 1,500 meat goats a year, raise 50 beef cows and run about 220 acres of hay. We also run a custom baling and wrapping business.
What forages do you harvest? We harvest alfalfa, oat and winter rye.
How many acres of crops do you raise? We have 220 acres in alfalfa, 90 acres in oat which is a nurse crop, 80 acres in corn for feed and 80 acres in winter rye. We haven’t done winter rye every year, but the last couple years we have.
Describe the rations for your livestock. The milking goats get 2.5 to 3 pounds of a 15% mix of corn, a soyhull pellet, a protein pellet, which has all their vitamins and minerals, and we offer free choice baleage which is about 25%-45% in moisture. We feed the youngstock an 18% protein, but it still has the same corn and soyhull pellet mixture.
What quality and quantity do you harvest of each crop? For quality, we shoot for 170 to 200 relative forage quality, and we harvest 10-13 bales per acre per year.
Describe your harvesting techniques for alfalfa and corn silage. We only harvest alfalfa. We harvest the corn as dry corn to mix back into the ration. The alfalfa is cut at 25- to 28-day cutting intervals and baled into 4-by-4.5-foot bales with three Kuhn balers. My son, Gable; my friend, Brady Beyer; my brother-in-law, Terry Schultz; my dad, Ron Speltz; and Patrick Kalmes help me with harvest and help with the custom baling and wrapping business. My wife, Melissa, provides all the meals we need during harvest time.
What techniques do you use to store, manage and feed your forages? Everything is in-line plastic wrapped with 1 mil in plastic. We feed about 2.5 to three bales a day to the milking goats.
Describe a challenge you overcame in reaching your forage quality goals. Instead of cutting at 32 days, shortening the cutting to 28 days this year seemed to help improve our quality. The weather, and having our own equipment, also helps. We have the flexibility of having our own equipment and enough people around to get it done. My brother-in-law cuts it with his Haybine, so he can cut 120 acres a day, and then we can harvest it fast with multiple balers.
How do quality forages play a part in the production goals for your herd? They play a large part as having a highly-digestible feed makes more milk. Goats are also good at wasting hay, so having a little bit of moisture on the stems prevents the leaves from all falling off when we’re handling it.
What are management or harvesting techniques you have changed that have made a notable difference in forage quality? Putting plenty of plastic on and getting them wrapped within 18 hours after they’re baled. We don’t add an inoculant, so tight bale wrapping and wrapping with enough plastic helps to improve our forage quality.
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