Crazy Moos

Moosworthy Information Straight from the Dairy!

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**

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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.

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

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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**