Dairy delight: silage supreme

The warm sweetness of fermented natural sugars swathed in the aroma of rich plum pudding make gourmet Silage Supreme irresistible.

Last weekend the conditions were perfect for the creation of a few thousand servings of this dairy delicacy.

Today, bunkered down in the office as water rattles down the drainpipes, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to relive the fleeting appearance of Spring by sharing the recipe with you.

So, next time you see cows eating “artificial, plastic food”, you’ll know the truth: it’s gorgeous, 100% pure luscious springtime grass lovingly preserved for a rainy day (or, perhaps, a scorcher).

Ah well, back to today…

WetHibiscus

WetOct

Let them eat cake

Good quality hay is like bread. Dairy cows love it for its balance of fibre, energy and protein. This winter, you cannot buy good quality hay for less than a king’s ransom, if you can buy it at all. So, with none to be had, we’ve been forced to get creative, introducing three different delicacies for the cows.

Almond hulls
At first, I wondered if the cows would ever eat this stuff. The smell is nice but almond hulls look like a mix of sawdust and fine wood chips.

Delicacy of the day: almond hulls

Delicacy of the day: almond hulls

Each cow gets an average of 5kg of the hulls each day but, judging by the way they wolf it down, I reckon they want more!

The 5 o'clock swill

The 3 o’clock swill

Trying to push the cows past a heap of almond hulls is like trying to push back the tide. Run one side of the ring and they’re already attacking the side you just left. Not because they’re starving, either. The cows are getting lashings and lashings of energy and nutrient-rich food – they just love the stuff!

Mmmmm, delicious

Mmmmm, delicious

Straw for scratch fibre
Although the almond hulls are fibrous, the cows need long fibre to wake-up their complex digestive systems, so they’re getting a couple of bales of straw as well (though they like to use it as a luxurious mattress, it seems).

Goo for the good bugs
Also new to our cows is a special brew delivered in fancy red tubs. A mixture of molasses, non-animal protein and minerals, the goo is not really for the cows. It’s for the bugs that digest their food in one of those four stomach chambers called the rumen. The idea is that the “goo for good bugs” turns them into super-bugs that can release the maximum value from everything the cow eats.

It’s a sweet-and-sour mix designed to stop the cows gorging themselves on the goo but they still seem to enjoy a generous swig on the way in and out of the dairy!

RedTrough

Grain for breakfast and dinner
The cows continue to enjoy two sittings of corn, barley, wheat and minerals each day during milking.

Most important of all – juicy, juicy grass
Despite all the other stuff on the menu this winter, nothing is more important to our cows than grass.

WintryPasture

Are they missing their hay? I think not.

My brand new shiny thing is being licked all over!

Oooh. Look what I’ve bought.

BIG calf feeder

It's a monster!

I have been coveting one of these 1000kg capacity grain feeders for a couple of years now. Normally, we have to lug a tonne of calf pellets into troughs by hand every week. That’s a lot of 20kg bags and a lot of aching muscles.

The stars came into alignment this month though, when our store had a special on the 1000kg capacity monster and the stockfeed company announced they would supply us with calf feed in one-tonne bulk bags that we can handle with the tractor’s front end loader.

Calf food in a bulk bag

A week's dinner for our calves includes pasta

The feed is a mixture of grains that have a combined 18% protein content to help the calves grow big and strong and even includes pasta. The calves have wasted no time getting into their new dinners served up in my shiny new toy. Oh man, oh man, oh man!

When there are just too many mouths to feed

We’ve hit the wall. We’re officially overstocked. The wet season has left too many paddocks out of rotation and we just don’t have enough grass.

Our options are:

1. Keep feeding out large quantities of hay, grain and silage

This is expensive and time consuming. Days are being consumed behind the tractor wheel and the guys are quickly becoming exhausted, even with extra labour. It’s also less than desirable to drive heavy machinery over soft pastures.

2. Sell stock

Not an option either. We need more milkers rather than fewer and a short term sell-off to buy back later is a poor choice – we like to keep a closed herd to reduce the risk of importing disease and so we can be sure of our bloodlines.

3. Find some more land

Our preferred option is to find top quality agistment reasonably locally for our yearlings. That means nice, well fertilised pastures, proper animal welfare practices, shelter, good fences and reliable water. Not easy to find just now, it turns out! For this reason, we’re touring far-flung pockets of Gippsland looking for the ideal home away from home for our little ones.

Any suggestions?