Crazy Moos

Moosworthy Information Straight from the Dairy!

Shocking News: The Weather is Unpredictable

Corn Harvest 2011

It’s tragic, but things happen. Weather is very unpredictable, and is one of the many unpredictable factors we have to deal with here on the dairy farm. We have been busy harvesting this year’s corn crop. We have been working on it for the past couple of weeks, but now we had to stop because of the weather.

The weather has been pretty strange. We had a storm that came through last week, and it rained pretty hard. It was pretty windy too. So now we have to stop the harvest because the fields are too wet. We can’t drive the equipment in the fields because it’s too wet and things will get stuck. So we have to wait for the fields to dry up.

Unfortunately, we didn’t finish cutting the crop before the storm, and had a few more fields to go. Some of the corn blew over now.

It won’t be fun harvesting the crop now, and will take much longer to finish. Not fun. Hopefully things can dry out, and we can finish harvesting before it starts raining again. I got some interesting pictures.

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**Summers over, here’s the first mud puddle of the winter**

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**We got most of the corn harvested, but not all**

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**A field that we finished cutting**

California Corn Field

**What a corn field should look like**

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**Our corn field now…**

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Filed under: Dairy, Farm, , , , , ,

Growing Corn for the Cows to Eat

Chopping the Corn

**Chopping the corn**

Every year during the summer, here on the dairy we are busy growing corn for the cows. Corn would probably be the staple food of our dairy cows.

A lot of people today criticize animal agriculture for using corn. The argument being that with all the corn that cows consume, instead of feeding it to cows, we could use the corn to feed people instead. The argument seems to make sense at first, but when you look at the bigger picture, you find that they are forgetting something.

When we feed the corn to cows, we don’t just feed them the corn cob. We feed them the entire stalk (the whole plant). The entire corn plant is cut up, and put into a pile. The pile is packed by a large tractor that compresses the pile to eliminate oxygen from the pile. Oxygen = spoilage. The pile is covered, and it ferments so we have a feed source that is available all year around.

The cow is able to digest the entire corn stalk, something people cannot eat. So the cow actually is converting a product indigestible by people, into a high quality food product rich in protein.

Corn is a very environmentally friendly crop as well. Corn is like grass, but grows much taller. Because corn grows quite tall, you get a lot of food per acre of land. So compared to grass, we can grow more food per acre which uses less natural resources.

 California Corn Field

**A California corn field, not like the Midwest**

So we have been busy here on the dairy, chopping this year’s corn crop. I took some pictures around the ranch of what is going on. Before we started chopping, my sister checked the corn to make sure it was ready to chop. When harvesting the corn it’s important to make sure it’s ready!

 

Checking Corn

**My sister checking the corn**

Checking the Corn

**Very short compared to the corn**

Chopping Corn

**Loading the trucks**

Chopping the corn with Sunset

**It looks pretty cool with the sun in the background**

Chopping

**The corn chopper cuts up the stalks then shoots it into the trucks who haul it to the pile**

Corn Silage

**A pile of cut up corn**

Silage Pit

**The pile slowly growing**

Filed under: Farm, Farming, , , , , , ,

Growing Food for Cows

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Its harvest time here on the dairy. We’ve been busy cutting the oats and rye grass that we grow during the winter months here in California. I guess that’s one of the great advantages of being in California. The growing season is long enough so we can grow 2 or even 3 crops per year instead of just one. Back east many farmers can only grow one crop before the winter snow covers the ground. Here in California, the sunshine state, we can really make the most of the land that we have.

I think that’s one of the many goals dairymen have: to maximize the resources we have. Many people wonder why all cows are not on pasture, and housed in barns. It’s probably for the simple reason that grazing cows requires a lot of land for pasture. If all our cows needed to be grazed, it would take thousands of acres of pasture land to grow enough food for the cows. Cows eat a lot!

The modern way of dairying is probably more environmentally friendly too because we are producing more food with less land. Instead of growing pasture grass, we grow feeds that grow thicker and grow much taller. For example, in the summer we will be growing corn which grows upwards of 6 feet, here in California. The entire cornstalk can be eaten by the cows so you can produce a lot of food with very little land.

I think everyone would graze cows on pasture if they could, but there just isn’t enough land to do it. By maximizing our land to grow as much food as possible, we are conserving land so it can be used to grow other crops for other food we need.

I took some pictures around the dairy where we grow the food for the cows. From the pictures, you should be able to see the process of how we make the food for the cows

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** The Field, about to be cut**

From the picture above, you can get a better idea of how much food can be grown. The oats provide much more food than a pasture can provide. Once the oats are grown, they are cut and piled into very neat rows. Also surprisingly there is still a great deal of wildlife around the dairy noting the picture below. Jack the Jack Rabbit seemed to be following us.

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**Jack the Jack rabbit was following us**

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** The Field after its been cut**

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** Cutting the field **

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** The machine cuts the oats and puts it into rows**

When the oats are ready to be cut, we use the machine shown in the picture above to cut them. After its been cut and piled into rows, another machine process the oats further cutting it into smaller pieces, and then shoots it into the trucks. Cutting the feed into small pieces really helps make the feed more digestible for the cows. Basically this means that more food is actually digested and used by the cow to make milk, instead of simply passing through the cow’s digestive system unused. 

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** The chopper then cuts it further into smaller pieces **

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** and loads it into the trucks**

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** The not-so-bright camera person**

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** This tractor packs the pile to eliminate oxygen that could cause spoilage**

The feed is then piled into a large pile and packed tightly by a tractor that pushes the cut feed into the pile. The packing tractor is essential because it eliminates oxygen from the pile. If the oxygen remains in the pile, spoilage will occur. So the oxygen is eliminated, and bacteria are added to start the fermentation process which then preserves the food for years. The silage pile shown below will be all gone by next year though. As I mentioned before, cows eat a lot!

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** The truck unloading**

After we finish cutting the oats, we will be planting the corn so stay tuned.

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What do Cows Eat: Oats

Summer is here!

It’s the beginning of April, and summer is here! Somehow it seems that we skipped spring this year. It went from rainy and cold to sunny and hot in a matter of days. We’ve been enjoying some great weather here in the California valley so far this month. The temperature swing however has had some detrimental effects on the baby calves though. Unfortunately they don’t like dramatics changes in the weather. The upside is the oats are growing now finally. After a cold winter, they finally have some great sunshine to grow in.

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**Summer is Here @ 91 degrees**

I think I will start a new series of blogs called “what do cows eat.” It may surprise some people what cows actually eat because on the farm, we use a variety of feeds for the cows. California also has a lot of different crops growing, and many of these crops have by-products that we can feed our cows. As a result, our cows get a mix of many different foods.

During the winter months, we grow winter forages like oats and rye grass. These crops grow well during the winter, and give us another feed source when were not growing corn. I guess one difference between organic dairy farming, and modern dairy farming is that instead of grazing the grass, we grow the grass, cut it, and store it all year long for the cows. The oats get pretty tall too. I took some pictures of the oats

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**One of our Oats Fields**

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**If you were really short walking through the field**

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**Watch the sunset…**

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**Now its Dark**

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Environmental Integrity (cont.)

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                             Past                                                        Present

When people think of dairy farming or any agriculture in general, most people would do not think of these industries as being technologically advanced, but they are.

Over the past 2 or 3 decades, dairy farmers have integrated many technological advancements into the farm in order to maximize efficiency’s (just like any other business would do). And there have actually been many advancements in technology that have helped us become better dairy farmers. It’s really a fun time to be in the dairy industry with so many new technologies emerging.

One of the newest technologies on the dairy is our tractor that has GPS. The GPS actually controls the tractor so it can make straight rows when it’s working in the field. The GPS has helped our farming practices become more efficient. The main goal of the GPS technology is to help eliminate wasted energy. Using GPS, the tractor is prevented from overlapping the areas in the field it already went over with the tractor implement.

The tractor is pretty simple to drive. You jump in, start it up, and turn on the GPS navigation. The tractor drives itself. You only have to do the turning!

This technology has helped us become more efficient in the fields, and has benefited our farm in many ways. We save on fuel, labor, and our most valuable asset time. This in turn cuts the amount of fossil fuel we use at the dairy, and helps us produce milk more cheaply.

Tractors fitted with GPS technology is just one of the new and exciting technologies we use at the dairy. I’m planning on posting more about some of the tech we use at the dairy so stay tuned for more.

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Filed under: Dairy, Farm, Tech, , , , , ,

A Dairy with Environmental Integrity

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As a dairyman and a farmer, it’s actually in our best interest to be caretakers of not only our cows, but the environment as well. It’s our job to be good stewards of the environment and we take pride in taking care of the environment around us. The above picture is one of our hay fields.

Many people do not recognize that taking care of the environment is in our best interest, but it actually is. If we are careless towards the environment, it’s not like we can just up and move our farm. We have to take care of the environment because it’s where our family lives.

Dairymen and farmers are often on the forefront of new technologies that can lessen the impact we have on the natural environment. One great example of how our dairy farm is cutting our impact is by using new farming technologies. Better tractor equipment has been developed to allow for more efficient plowing.

No-till and strip-till technology allows us to lessen the amount of work to till or plow the soil. Before, the soil would be worked many times by tractors in order to break up the soil. Now we barely work the soil to plant our crops and it keeps our air cleaner.

No-till and strip-till farming allows the reduction of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, noting that plants store CO2 in the ground. Working the ground releases the CO2 into the atmosphere. Now that we have implemented no-till and strip-till into our farming practices, we are essentially cutting back on the amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere during farming. Then when we grow our crops, more CO2 is pulled into the ground. Our fields are in fact air purifiers!   

By implementing this technology into our farming practices, we also cut back on our tractor and fuel usage. Using less fuel definitely helps cut our carbon footprint, and we are definitely using much less fuel on our dairy farm!

As a caretaker of the environment, implementing these new practices into our farm was a logical and easy decision. Using no-till and strip till farming practices on our farm has allowed us to cut back our overall footprint on the environment in order to make for a brighter future for future generations. And we are proud of this fact!

We recently cut our winter crop back in May, and just finished planting our corn in early June. The corn is now starting to come up. We will harvest the corn later this year.

Note the picture below, you can see the remaining roots and stubble from our crop that we harvested last month in May (the brown). Then you can see the corn coming up in the rows! You can see there has been very little plowing or tillage done. Only a small slot so the corn could be planted and take root.

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Crazy Moos

About Crazy Moos

Welcome to the Crazy Moos blog! Crazy Moos is a play on words, basically trying to create a fun environment (crazy) for dairy news (moos). The overall goal of this blog is to communicate “moosworthy information” (newsworthy information) about the dairy industry and important happening on the dairy farm. Hopefully this blog will help people learn about various aspects of the dairy industry and what happens on the dairy farm. Visit regularly for new blog postings!

About Me

I am a 3rd generation dairyman in California, and our dairy farm really is a reflection of the American dream. My grandfather came to America from Europe after World War II in search of greater opportunities, and a safer place to raise a family. He came to America with hardly anything except his exceptional appreciation for hard work. My grandpa after a few years was able to start his own dairy farm and start producing high quality, nutritious milk. In the 70’s, he moved the operation to a more remote area (our current location), and started growing the herd.

Today, I am actively taking part in the farms daily responsibilities. I’m well qualified to be in the dairy industry, and consider myself pretty knowledgeable about the dairy industry having just graduating college with a degrees in dairy science, and dairy processing.

Many people today believe that the dairy industry has been taken over by large corporate farms, but a recent study done shows that most dairies are family owned. In fact, 99% of dairy farms in California are family owned and operated. My whole family is involved on the dairy. My sisters are caretakers of the baby calves, and we guys take care of the cows. There are eight kids in our family, so the dairy is definitely a family affair!

Milk is one of the world’s most nutritious natural products. So many people today are forgetting that milk is filled with many different nutrients, all combined to work in synergy together to maximize the body’s absorption of these nutrients. It’s the perfect blend of nutrients, in nature’s most natural product.

Milk, it’s a natural product, that’s naturally good for you!

**All Pictures, unless specified otherwise, Copyright © 2011 Crazy Moos. All Rights Reserved**