Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The frontier. (O'Neill City, Holt County, Neb.) 1880-1965 | View Entire Issue (July 14, 1960)
I f you plan to stay in the dairy business, it may be wise to consider the
possibility of a total drylot operation the year-round. Dairy specialists
say it may not be too many years before grazing dairy cows on pasture
will be as out-dated and old fashioned as the one horse plow and open
Main reason more dairymen are considering a year-round drylot
program it the need for increasing farm business size and production per
man. Today it takes a larger herd to make efficient use of all equipment
needed for milk production. This means more feed—which must either
come through higher forage production on the land you have now, or in
creased acreage. With the present high price on good land, it’s usually
more practical to boost feed output per acre and get more efficient use
of the land you're now farming.
Basically, there are two types of systems you can use in a drylot
dairy operation—stored feed the year-round, or green chopping forage
daily for the herd. Both systems will give you more forage production
per acre than when either a strip or rotational grazing program is used.
In five years of comparative feeding trials at Wisconsin’s Marshfield
Experiment Station, milk production per acre has been 192 greater from
green chopping than from strip grazing. The use of all stored feed (hay
and silage) produced 30* more milk per acre than from strip grazing.
This improvement has come from higher carrying capacity per acre.
With the use of all stored feed it took about X acre to produce enough
feed ior a cow. This compared with 0.7 acre with green chopping and
0.85 acre with strip grazing. Forage production potential was the same
on all land, but the strip-grazed cows trampled and wasted more grass
than when mechanical harvesting was used.
Ohio economists say you must increase milk output per acre by
about 400 pounds in order to afford to switch from conventional grazing
to green chopping. In the Wisconsin trials, milk output was increased
twice this much. When using all stored feed output was more than three
These trials are being substantiated by dairymen around the country.
Cleo Nitzsche, a purebred Brown Swiss breeder in Randolph County, Illi
nois, says, "I now get about twice as much forage production per acre
by green chopping as when I was letting the cows graze on pasture. Be
sides, it’s not as hard on my fields.”
Nitzsche presently has a herd average of about 500 pounds fat and
is attempting to increase this to 600 pounds. “I think a drylot program
will make it easier for me to reach this level Besides, I can carry more
cows than when I was grazing during summer.” He is now harvesting
forage as green chop but says weather is his big problem. As soon as
possible he would like to begin feeding stored feed the year-round—it will
eliminate the daily chopping chore and give him more uniform quality
forage throughout the year.
At first you might think labor would be a problem on a total drylot
operation. Granted you must spend more time cleaning lots and hauling
manure, but the higher production possibilities far outweigh this. Much
of the feed and other materials can be handled mechanically. By using
timeclocks and automatic switches, labor needs can be kept to a minimum.
Jade Ellis of near Durand, Michigan, says mechanization has been
a big help to him. He farms 195 acres and takes care of 80 head of cattle
—35 milking cows, 15 feeders and 30 dairy heifers—all by himself. Most
of his feed is stored in silos and feeding operation is mechanized.
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Dairymen find they can get more milk production per acre
of grass by hauling it to the cows and feeding in drylot the
year-round. Under most grazing operations dairymen find
their cows use only about half the forage produced, but by
harvesting mechanically they can utilize nearly all of the
forage. This advantage alone is often worth more than the
cost of added equipment and facilities needed.
ssiisii^r ■■ ^
Plenty of concrete is needed for a drylot dairy feeding opera
tion in this part of the country. It helps you save more manure
and you have less trouble with wet, muddy lots. This Wis
consin farmer is using silage, distributed automatically to
the cows under the covered feed bunk. Concrete is scraped
clean regularly to help control flies and keep cows clean.
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