View this email in your browser

Beltie-Briefs Newsletter

April 1, 2020


Beef Tips

Bale Grazing

For eight of the last ten years, we have always fed hay in a sacrificial area up by the barn in a hay ring starting in late fall and ending in spring. Every spring I always felt blessed and cursed by the manure pack that had built up over the winter around the hay ring. On the upside, I loved that I had this concentrated mass of hay and manure pack to mix into my compost piles and then spread on the fields and gardens. This stuff really gets the compost pile going. On the downside, I had a muddy, wet mess around the rings and the area where the ring was is sacrificed as the manure pack created an unnatural  nutrient imbalance that slowed grass recovery and the growth of green cover. Further, it created an area for disease to develop. Wet is never good on a farm. By late March and early April, the cattle were ankle to knee deep in mud around the rings. We would move the ring to manage this, but we didn’t do it frequently enough and the sacrificial area grew.

Last fall I was listening to a book by Gabe Brown, a Rancher in North Dakota, who discussed the topic of Bale Grazing to feed his cattle in the winter. Gabe places his hay stockpiles strategically around his fields and moved his cattle to them over the winter. This strategy has the cattle come to the bale, eat the bale and deposit manure and urine along with some residual hay in an area. Then the cows move to the next bale 50 feet away.  Using this method, he distributes the manure, does not have to burn the energy to cost and spread the manure or compost it, and his cattle always have a clean pasture area to bed in.  The residual hay returns as nutrients to the soil and is naturally mixed with the manure and urine in the right proportions. It decomposes readily into nutrients that are ready for consumption in the field. Below is picture of this process being used on our farm this winter. This method has reduced my costs through the reduction in spreading and composting machine expense and time. It has the cattle doing more of the work rather than me. Don’t forget, cattle have four legs.

Pasture after bale grazing in earling Spring 2020. 



Jamie Wilkerson owns and operates K&E Wilkerson Farmstead with his wife Lisa and children Kyle and Emily.  The Belted Galloway farm is in Adel, Iowa a small town just west of Des Moines. The farm was established in 2009 resulting from Kyle and Emily’s interest in the breed for a 4-H project. Both joined as Junior Members as well a the regional, and national associations. Our goal now and into the future is to focus primarily on freezer beef production and continued breed development.  Jamie currently serves as Director of the Great Lakes Belted Galloway Association. 



June 11-14, 2020
2020 Spring Field Day
Columbia City, IN
Regional Round Up Junior Show
Columbia City, IN
Doug Abney Memorial Open Show
Columbia City, IN
Register Now!

June 27, 2020
Midwest Classic Show
Pecatonica, IL
Register for the Midwest Classic Now!

COVID - 19 Update:
The GLBGA Board is monitoring the situation across our area. At this time, we have not made a decision to cancel any of this years events. We will post more information as the situation develops.  

Herd this at the fence...

Good Calving Seasons start with Good Strategy

Spring can be one of the best times on the farm. As the snow melts away here in the Midwest and pastures start to green up, we look forward to calving season on out farm. We time our calving season for April through June, when the fresh grass is coming on and the cold winter has moved on for the most part. This part of our strategy helps us to get calves off to the best start for our operation. Folks in other areas may have different practices based on their farm operates. I think all can agree that one of the number one rules to a good calving season is to offer our calves their best opportunity and success.

In reading a recent article in BEEF, Smith Thomas identifies That the riskiest time in a calf’s life is birth. 68% of calf losses occur in the first three days of life, and that 66 percent of those losses were tied to calving difficulties at birth. He notes that these losses can be minimized with good genetic selection and good calving management.

In thinking about this, a good calving season starts long before the calf hits the ground. Choosing good heifers with a solid background in calving ease and choosing the right bull have a lot to do with how your season will go.  An excellent strategy is to keep breeding records and track your calving season. After every calving season, review your records and use them to make sound decisions on which cows or heifer to keep and which breeding may have impacted you season. Profitability comes from having good strong calves and these come from strong, easy calving cows. Knowing what you have on your farm will aid in stock selection and herd improvement.
Green Cover Seed
If you are interested in learning more about cover crops and soil health, a free resources guide is available at Green Cover Seed. The soil Health Guide is and excellent free resource that helps you understand the role plants platy in producing healthy soils.  

A word from the Bookworm...

Growing a Revolution: Bringing Soil Back to Life by David R. Montgomery

Over the last few months, I have spent a lot of time reading about soil health and cover crops. Many of these books are discussing a topic called regenerative agriculture. Much of this movement is based on the idea of soil health and soil biology being at the core of any agricultural operation. The discoveries in this space over the last 30 years have identified that there are four major tenants to building soil health. They are using no till land management practices, using cover crops to prevent bare soil, planting diverse rotations, and the use of livestock in rotational systems.  A book that considers many different methods and perspectives on the topic was written by David R. Montgomery. In his book, Growing a Revolution: Bringing Soil Back to Life, Mr. Montgomery discussed how he and his wife, a biologist, renovated the soil around his home in Washington using biological systems. David is a geologist by trade and thought of soil in the physical and chemical sense, but as the result of the renovation, realized that biology has much more to do with soil health than the chemical and physical properties of it. David takes a trip around the world interviewing many different agricultural practitioners describing what works and why.

What's on the Web...

Cow-Calf Enterprise Budget Spreadsheet

Whether you are a new farmers or and old one, profitability in agriculture relies on counting the cost of your operation. This takes time and planning. To help you plan better the University of Wisconsin Beef Information Center has produced a Cow-Calf Enterprise Budget Planning Spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will offer you a place to start when counting the cost of your enterprise. 

Pastures for Profit: A Guide to Rotational Grazing

The National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has made available for free download, and excellent guide on rotational grazing and pasture management. In this guide written by various authors from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota. Pastures for Profit: A Guide to Rotational Grazing topic include understanding plant growth, animal nutritional needs and health, animal grazing habits and setting up a rotational grazing system. 
Copyright © 2020 Great Lakes Belted Galloway Association, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.