Forgey Files: Articles written by Dave Forgey. Especially beneficial
to beginning graziers. (Pastures, fencing, calf raising, watering
systems, managing drought, baleage)
Why would I want to
graze dairy cows? Ideas on finding more profitable ways to dairy.
Low Cull Rate:
One of the benefits of a pasture system is less stress on the
cows. We’re now in our eleventh season of grazing and our eight season of
seasonal production. We’re beginning to see a pattern developing that makes our
seasonal pasture system even better than I had realized.
Calving Strategies 2001: Our start fresh date goal is March 1 each
year. We’re always pushing the envelope a little as we get anxious when we see
cows in heat a few days before our planned first breeding date.
Adding a New
Parcel of Land: 2001 was a challenging year because we finally reached
maximum capacity for milking cows and replacement stock on 240 acres of
White Clover: Perhaps our most
exciting new forage is Alice White Clover.
A good dairy year in 2001 and perhaps a few new plans for 2002 got me thinking
abut other things besides getting the herd bred this past spring.
Controlling Thistles: Joel asked the
question of how we control thistles, and then mentioned that he has done little
more than chase them around his farm by hacking and whacking.
Grazing: We have returned to a slightly forgotten art of corn stalk
grazing for our bred heifers as well as our dry cows.
Progress Over 10 Years: In 1995, after lots of discussion with many
graziers, we chose to use Friesian bulls from Livestock Improvement Corporation
(LIC) in New Zealand as our only source of semen.
Feeding Experiments: Since beginning grazing in 1992 we have
experimented with many systems of supplemental feeding our cows on pasture.
New Technologies: One of the common theories of conventional dairymen
is that the grass farmers abandon new technology.
Group: I haven’t been fortunate enough to have a very large number of
graziers farming close to me. Therefore a local grazing group has never been
Legumes Work: No doubt most graziers know that I am a strong proponent
of legumes in my pasture stands. Maybe that comes from many years of watching my
legumes produce high-quality forage back during my conventional years of dairy
Sharemilking: Scott came to work for Forgey’s River-View Farm right
out of high school in 1990. He had very little farming background although his
grandfather did farm.
Expansion: One of the problems in our dairy operation had been the
time spent milking the cows.
Pocket Expenses: One of the reasons we have been successful to this
point in our transition to grazing is that we have worked very hard at keeping
our costs low.
I recently attended a seminar hosted by my local Ag bank featuring a leading
Agricultural Consultant. (Dr. Jay Lehr). Since nearly every other farmer
attending was a grain producer his topics were geared towards that faction of
agriculture. He proposed the future of agriculture being in the energy making
business using Corn and Soya products. However, he made a statement that I feel
missed the true potential of agriculture.
Schedule: Now that the cows are out there grazing it's time to
consider the rest of the nutritional requirements of the livestock.
Simple: This is a concept that works very well with rotational
Legumes and Annuals: No doubt most graziers know that I am a strong
proponent of legumes in my pasture stand. Maybe that comes from many years of
watching my legumes produce high quality forage back during my conventional
years of dairy farming.