August 12, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.

Forage Profile

Brad and Chad Scapanski of Sauk Rapids, Minnesota | Benton County | 350 cows

Mark Klaphake/Dairy Star

Brad and Chad Scapanski stand in their freestall barn Aug. 7 on their dairy near Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. They milk 300 cows, raise 300 heifers and 200 steers on their farm in Benton County. 


Describe your farm and facilities. We have a freestall barn with waterbeds, and we milk our cows in a swing-16 parlor. Our herd average is 28,000 pounds with 4.3% butterfat and 3.2% protein. We have 350 cows, 300 of which are milking. We also have 300 heifers and raise our calves. We also raise 200 steers. We have three full-time workers who do milking and help with chores. We can feed all the cows in two hours.


What forages do you harvest? We have 180 acres of alfalfa, 600 acres of corn and 200 acres of grass hay, and we also raise 110 acres of soybeans. 

How many acres of crops do you raise? Around 1,100 acres. 


Describe the rations for your livestock. Our cows get 50 pounds of corn silage, 30 pounds of haylage, 20 pounds of earlage, 3 pounds of soybeans, 3 pounds of soybean meal and some liquid protein mineral mix. The dry cows get grass hay, haylage, corn silage and mineral mix. The heifers are fed grass hay, haylage, corn silage and mineral. 

What quality and quantity do you harvest of each crop? We try to harvest the haylage at 180-200 relative feed value on about 180 acres. The corn silage is a brown midrib variety, and we harvest around 200 acres at 66%-68% moisture. The earlage is about 40% moisture, and we have around 150 acres of that. This year, we planted a 98-day variety. 

Describe your harvesting techniques for alfalfa and corn silage. The alfalfa is cut, merged, chopped at 65% moisture and put on a pile. The corn silage is chopped at 66%-68% moisture and piled. We usually take the first cutting around Memorial Day. We participate in a scissor cut through the University of Minnesota. 

Mark Klaphake/Dairy Star

Brad and Chad Scapanski hold corn silage in their hands Aug. 7 on their farm near Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. The corn is a brown midrib variety and is harvested at 66%-68% moisture.


What techniques do you use to store, manage and feed your forages? The alfalfa and corn silage are piled and faced daily. The earlage is in bags or in the silo. They are fed with the mixer. 

How does quality forages play in the production goals for your herd? Feeding quality forage keeps cows healthy and producing a high amount of quality milk with less purchased feed. You make the best quality forages you can so you don’t have to buy your milk through purchasing feed to make up for poor quality forages. 

What are management or harvesting techniques you have changed that has made a notable difference in forage quality? The biggest change we made is when we switched to bags and silos to piles. It enabled us to harvest at a better moisture for a more digestible feed. Our window for chopping is wider, and we can harvest at a quicker pace because we aren’t unloading into a bagger. It’s also allowed for quicker feeding times. This year, we bought a triple mower that has allowed us to cut in the morning and chop in the afternoon with the exception of the first crop. We updated our processes four years ago, and that does a better job annihilating the kernel. We also put in a 200-by-300 tar pad three years ago. That has allowed us to have all our feed in one spot which makes feeding quicker plus we don’t have to deal with any mud. 

Describe a challenge you overcame in reaching your forage quality goals. Switching to a BMR corn helped with the health of the cows. We wanted to get to a more digestible feed. We switched six years ago and have had less instances of displaced abomasum.

Mark Klaphake/Dairy Star

(Below) The Scapanskis pile their forages on a tar pad on their farm near Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. The tar pad is 200 feet by 300 feet, which has allowed for more efficient feeding.



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