Working the Land
Growing Crops. Preserving Land. Protecting Habitat.
- We give careful thought and planning to the crops we grow because this feed is what sustains our cows and our herd throughout the year. We work with animal nutritionists to be sure our cows are getting the best feed we can grow.
- It takes a lot of feed to keep dairy cows healthy. The green fields of grass or waving stalks of corn you enjoy seeing all summer is the main source of feed. (Even our cows “eat local”!)
- Chopping the corn to just the right length is critical to our cows’ health. If the corn stalks and corn are chopped too long or too short our cows will have difficulty digesting it properly, therefore not getting all the fine nutrition the forage is intended to offer.
- In the spring when the fields have dried and the conditions are right, we recycle cow manure and used bedding on the fields to replenish the soil. In addition, we test our soil to determine if lime or other nutrients need to be added to sustain our crops.
- Seeds, soil nutrients and fertilizers are ordered in March after reviewing previous years’ yields, and planning plant rotation when possible.
- Corn is planted as early in spring as we can when the field conditions are right. We use computer-aided programs to map how each field should be planted, working with the contour of the land to prevent erosion, and to optimize yields
- To cultivate all this farmland, we need lots of equipment. Our farms each operate multiple tractors and dump trucks, and use tractor attachments including corn choppers, grass choppers, manure spreaders, planters, and harrows. It’s a full-time job just to keep all this equipment maintained.
- In addition to managing fields we own, The Farmer’s Cow farms all count on renting cropland from other landowners—this helps increase our feed production, and keeps our neighbors’ rural lands green and productive.
- Not all the land on our farms is able to be planted into crops. On every farm there is land that is considered wetlands, wooded or too severe to cultivate. This is what makes our farms such great habitat for birds and other wildlife.