Doug Kerfeld feeds his milking herd a ration dominated by corn silage and low-moisture alfalfa haylage.
Doug Kerfeld harvested 8.3 tons of alfalfa dry matter per acre this year despite a two-month dry spell. He expects to reach his 10-ton/acre yield goal in 2014 if weather cooperates.
The quality is where he wants it, too. Kerfeld won the 2013 World Forage Analysis Superbowl with haylage that tested 25.6% crude protein, 18.5% ADF and 23.7% NDF, with a 298 relative forage quality (RFQ) score. Its calculated milk production per ton was 3,957 lbs.
He was named superbowl grand champion during a luncheon at the recent World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI, winning the contest’s $3,000 top prize.
He, his wife, Sandy, and their five school-age kids run Fuchs & Kerfeld Dairy, Albany, MN, with help from two part-time employees. Their 110-cow Holstein herd averages 25,200 lbs of milk per cow on a year-round ration that’s 68-72% alfalfa haylage and corn silage.
He says the high-forage diet keeps cows healthy and lowers feed costs.
“You don’t have to be a high-producing herd to make money; you just have to be efficient,” says Kerfeld.
He feeds long-particle corn silage and haylage (1” and ¾” theoretical lengths of cut, respectively), and the haylage is dryer than normal. It’s stored in bags at 53-56% dry matter.
“It seems like the cattle respond better off of dry haylage, and their intakes are higher,” he says. “I’d rather add water to the mixer than have wetter haylage.”
When necessary, he adds 300-400 lbs of water to each TMR batch to improve palatability and prevent sorting.
Kerfeld strives to achieve high yields and quality in all his crops. A hired agronomist scouts his 115 alfalfa acres weekly, and insecticides are applied when economic thresholds are reached. Usually, the crop is treated for cloverleaf weevils after the first cutting and for potato leafhoppers after the second.
He believes a variable-rate lime and fertilizer program started two years ago will help him produce 10-ton/acre alfalfa on his heavy soils. Two-thirds of his farm has been grid soil sampled so far.
Varying rates of phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulfur and boron are applied to established stands after first and fourth cuttings. Next year he plans to fertilize after second and third crops, too, using conventional applications to replace nutrients removed by previous cuttings.
“So some nutrients are going to be applied after every cutting,” says Kerfeld.
The winning haylage sample was fifth-cutting HybriForce-2420/Wet, a Dairyland Seed hybrid. Dairyland test plots on his farm have shown a 7-11% yield advantage for hybrid varieties over conventionals, Kerfeld says.
When he was named overall contest winner, Gregg Troyer, Dalton, OH, moved up to first place in the dairy haylage category. Troyer’s sample of Pioneer 54Q32 alfalfa tested 26.7% crude protein, 20.9% ADF and25.9% NDF, scoring 272 for RFQ and producing 3,853 lbs of milk per ton. Ever-Green-View Dairy, Waldo, WI, placed second; Devin Haywood, Hastings, MI, third.
The dairy hay championship was won by S Y Dairy, Guthrie, KY, with a sample of WL 353 alfalfa that tested 23.9% crude protein, 23.5% ADF and 29.7% NDF. The hay’s RFQ score was 224, and it produced 3,420 lbs of milk per ton. Srnka Farms LLC, Algoma, WI, and Dee’s Dairy LLC, Morgan, UT, finished second and third, respectively. Karl and Barb Wogsland, Scandinavia, WI, who won the overall championship in 1996 and have been finalists several times since, placed fourth.
David Hinman’s Hardrock Farms, Wheatland, WY, topped the commercial hay category. His daughter Kellie’s Lazy 2K Livestock, also near Wheatland, came in second, and Harlan Fegler, Arapahoe, WY, placed third. The Hinmans have dominated the category the past three years. Kellie won it last year and was overall superbowl champion in 2011. David placed first in the category in 2011 and second in 2012.
His winning Nexgrow 64Q22 alfalfa sample tested 24% crude protein, 19.5% ADF and 24.7% NDF, with a 277 RFQ score.
The top grass hay sample was entered by Rosedale Genetics Ltd., Oxford, WI. It tested 18.8% crude protein, 28.3% ADF and 44.7% NDF, scoring 179 for RFQ. Gerry Danko, Powell, WY, finished second; Anderson Livestock, Pine Bluffs, WY, third. Danko came in second last year, too, after topping the category in 2011.
Last year’s second-place baleage finisher won the category this year. Olson Farms, Lena, WI, entered a forage that tested 22.4% crude protein, 26.7% ADF and 35.7% NDF, with a 215 RFQ score. Hardrock Farms and Beer’s Robo Holsteins LLC, Mascoutah, IL, placed second and third, respectively.
A Mycogen TMF hybrid won the standard corn silage championship for Doody Farm, Tully, NY. It tested 35% dry matter, 32% NDF and 57% NDF digestibility, and produced 3,830 lbs of milk per ton. Maynard Lehman, LaGrange, IN, placed second; Vander Made Dairy, Sherwood, OH, third.
Holmes Acres, New Woodstock, NY, won the BMR corn silage category with a Mycogen hybrid that tested 35% dry matter, 34% NDF and 68% NDF digestibility, producing 3,782 lbs of milk per ton. White Eagle Farm LLC, Hamilton, NY, placed second. Indianhead Holsteins Ltd., Barron, WI, the 2012 superbowl grand champion, came in third.
Ed Byers Dairy, Enon Valley, PA, was this year’s top first-time entrant. Quality Counts awards, based on total-tract digestibility, were won by TomBeth Farms, Gay Mills, WI, and Lazy 2K Livestock.
More than $22,000 in cash prizes were awarded in this year’s superbowl, which had 321 entries.
The contest’s organizing partners are Hay & Forage Grower, Dairyland Laboratories, Inc., DairyBusiness Communications, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison and World Dairy Expo.
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