If you plan on starting a small farm, whether you choose to raise cattle for your own slaughter or supply the local meat market, you will need to make sure you can adequately feed your herd. Your acreage may have a lot of nice green grass, but that doesn’t mean the quality of the yield is good enough for livestock.
The Keys of Forage Production
When it comes to forage production, quality and tonnage are the two key things to worry about. At the end of the day, farmers need to know that they have an acceptable quantity of forage to feed their livestock but with the quality of nutrients required by their livestock. If this doesn’t happen, you will find yourself purchasing and placing large rounds bales of hay into the field with a tractor supply hay spear. This is both expensive and time-consuming work.
How to Improve Forage Production
To really get the components you need from your fields, you need to harvest when the time is right. The maturity stage of the plant impacts the resulting pasture or hay quality. When you harvest earlier on, your hay or fields have higher protein levels and more digestibility. Harvesting later on in the growth gives you a greater yield but with less nutritional value. Therefore, your yield-per-acre (or tonnage) is affected by when you choose to harvest.
The Livestock and Forage Production
The livestock you keep determines the quality and type of forage needed. Dairy farms will require much higher quality forages, with different cattle groups also having separate needs. High-producing lactating cattle have some of the highest quality forage needs among cattle. However, if your farm has sheep, goats, or horses, your forage needs are not generally as demanding.
Taking care of your livestock or farming needs means educating yourself about their upkeep. Poor foraging can lead to a herd that is underweight and prone to disease.