Although the great majority of the cattle feed we grow are perennial forages (see previous post on hay), we do grow a few fields of grain. The grain helps as a high quality, nutrient dense, feed for cattle; it is also crucial in breaking up a sod field periodically to refresh the grasses & legumes growing there.
This field grew an excellent crop of oats & peas this year which we are currently baling for "green feed" or what is commonly referred to as silage. It is stored in a wrap which smothers the bacteria present to reduce heating or spoiling & will ferment over the next few months until it is ready to feed to cattle in the winter.
Ideal timing to harvest oats & peas for this purpose is when the oats are very milky (no hard grain in the sheath) & the peas are just flowering with no pods yet -- this maximizes protein content while still yielding good bulk/acre making for both happy cows & happy farmers!
Later in the fall, when we have a bit more time on our hands we will take a sample & submit it for feed testing to verify that we know exactly what we are dealing with & how we should feed it out over the course of feeding season.
What is just as exciting is evidence of a strong crop of alfalfa/fescue growing beneath the oats & peas which will feed cattle well off of this farm for years to come. The alfalfa/fescue mix was seeded at the same time as the oats/peas but isn't ready to cut as hay until it's second growing season when it really gets established.
Stay tuned for upcoming Barley talk on the blog to learn more about the other grain we utilize for cattle feed.