Perfect timing, kinda: the brief lifecycle of a forage oat crop

The oats were sown in Autumn and here they were in May:

Oats on May 14

Oats on May 14

The idea was to provide quick winter feed and open up the soil with their deep roots but it got so wet, we couldn’t graze them and some were stunted.

Oats stunted by wet conditions

Oats stunted by wet conditions

Most of the paddock looked perfect in August but the soil was still too wet for the cows.

Oats in August

Oats looked great in August but still too wet to graze

This spelled trouble. It meant we’d missed the chance to graze the oats at all. The growing points would be too high. If I ignored that and grazed them anyhow, there would be nothing to bale to feed out next calving season. Oats are great to feed to heavily pregnant cows because they lower the risk of milk fever.

This is how they looked two weeks ago:

Zoe in the now tall oats

Zoe in the then tall oats

It meant they had to be cut quite quickly and this week was our chance. They were mown on Monday and Tuesday:

Mown forage oats

The oats after mowing

By Thursday (yesterday), they were still a little sappy but, while it was 30 degrees Celsius, a cool change was on its way, so we had to wrap it as silage rather than leaving it to dry further to become hay.

Baled oaten silage

Oats all baled up

It was such a nice feeling to listen to the rain on the roof last night, knowing I had hundreds of sweet silage bales all wrapped up for the girls next autumn!

I’ve discovered a treasure-trove of info on silage making online, by the way. Check out the Dairy Australia “Successful Silage” manifesto. If you’re not thrilled by silage, you could use it to rock yourself off to sleep.


One thought on “Perfect timing, kinda: the brief lifecycle of a forage oat crop

  1. I love wrapped round bales. The smell is amazing to the point I am almost jealous the cows get it!

    Our Amish neighbors take Alfalfa small square bales (maybe 40-50 pounds at most) and wrap four bales together. It makes a little square wrapped bale. The alfalfa comes out so green it’s almost emerald, and the cows seem to love it as well.

    Glad you got your hay in! 😉


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