Mowing in the afternoon and tedding in the same field pass help John and Diane Pounder and son Bryan make high-quality bale silage for their organic dairy clients.
It also helped Diane Pounder win the 2010 World Forage Analysis Superbowl. She was named overall winner in the annual quality contest during a luncheon at this year’s World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI.
Her winning baleage sample, from a 2009 fifth cutting, was a mixture of Roadrunner alfalfa and Niva orchardgrass. It scored 281 for relative forage quality (RFQ), testing 49.8% dry matter, 19.6% NDF and 22.5% crude protein.
The Delavan, WI, family has been growing orchardgrass with their alfalfa for several years, choosing Niva because it’s a late-maturing variety that blooms about the same time as alfalfa. The grass improves the hay’s RFQ scores, “but I think it’s a little bit detrimental on the protein, depending on the cut,” says John.
They raise beef cattle, cash grain and hay, some of which is fed to their own animals. Bryan is in charge of the 100-acre haying operation and is responsible for significant quality improvements in recent years, according to his dad.
“My son takes a great deal of pride in trying to get that quality up there because it helps us sell,” John says. “We’re targeting that specific need for high-quality, high-sugar hay for organic dairies.”
Bryan tried to develop a system in which hay could be mowed one day and baled the next. He wasn’t successful, but two-day haying is possible with baleage in good drying weather. Baling at 50% moisture results in a better, more uniform product that’s easier to store, John says.
“It’s a wishful thought that, in this part of the Midwest, you can make quality dry hay consistently,” he says.
Laying the crop in wide swaths is part of the two-day haying strategy. But, like most mower-conditioners, their 13’ machine can’t spread the crop wide enough. So they mount it on the front of their bidirectional tractor and attach a tedder at the rear. Operated by the tractor’s auxiliary hydraulics, the tedder fluffs the crop and spreads it back to its full cutting width. That speeds drying, which in turn increases the sugar content of the finished product, John reports.
Mowing between noon and 5 p.m. instead of in the morning also increases sugar levels, he adds. That’s important because many organic dairies feed minimal amounts of grain.
“They make it up with the energy in this kind of hay because of the sugar content.”
Out-of-state dairies can afford to pay premiums for the dense 4 x 4’ round bales, in part because they’re more economical to haul than bales of lower-quality hay.
“They get a lot higher-nutrient-density hay, so the cost per ton of nutrients is much lower,” he says. “Shipping 149 RFQ hay gets expensive per pound of milk produced. But at 250-plus RFQ, the pounds of milk they get per dollar of freight is much better for them.”
When Diane Pounder was named overall superbowl winner, frequent finalist Kendall Guither, Walnut, IL, became winner of the commercial baleage category. Guither topped the class in 2007 and 2008 and placed second last year. His 2010 entry, made from WL 320HQ alfalfa, tested 24% crude protein, 22.5% ADF and 26.5% NDF, with a 258 RFQ score.
Second place went to Chase Holschbach, Baraboo, WI; third place, to Benjamin Fisher, Jr., Greens Fork, IN.
The commercial hay winner was Lori Hetzel, Powell, WY, with a Simplot alfalfa variety that tested 22.4% crude protein, 20.4% ADF and 25.8% NDF, with a 268 RFQ score. Two other Wyoming growers, Mark Bappe of Riverton and David Hinman of Wheatland, placed second and third, respectively.
A sample of Pioneer 54V46 alfalfa won the dairy hay championship for David and Donald Schlies, Denmark, WI. Their entry had a 207 RFQ score, testing 21.4% crude protein, 23.4% ADF and 32% NDF. It produced 3,128 lbs of milk per ton. David Olson, Lena, WI, placed second and Randall Geiger, Reedsville, WI, finished third.
McClellan Farms, another entrant from Delavan, WI, won the dairy haylage championship with a Croplan Genetics alfalfa that tested 23.1% crude protein, 22.8% ADF and 27.6% NDF. It scored 241 for RFQ and produced 3,267 lbs of milk per ton. Maple Downs Farms, Middleburgh, NY, and Genart Hillcrest Dairy, St. Cloud, WI, placed second and third, respectively.
The BMR dairy corn silage category was won by Frazee Farms, Fabius, NY. Its Mycogen F2F485 entry tested 34.3% starch, 38.8% NDF and 64.5% NDF digestibility, producing 3,671 lbs of milk per ton. Second place went to Champion Farms, Clinton, NY; third place, to Crist Dairy Farm, Homeworth, OH.
Lightland Farms, Stanley, NY, topped the standard dairy corn silage category followed by Greg Koster, Falmouth, MI, and Vander Made Dairy, Sherwood, OH. Lightland’s winning Mycogen TMF94 sample tested 38.2% starch, 35.1% NDF and 59.3% NDF digestibility and produced 3,640 lbs of milk per ton.
Tony Pecha, Bloomer, WI, was this year’s champion first-time entrant. Phil Saunders, Dansville, NY, and Yippee! Farms, Mount Joy, PA, took home Quality Counts awards.
More than $20,000 were awarded in this year’s contest. The overall winner took home $2,500, category winners and the top first-time entrant each won $1,500, and the Quality Counts winners each received $1,000.
The superbowl’s organizing partners are Hay & Forage Grower, AgSource Cooperative Services, DairyBusiness Communications,U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, University of Wisconsin and World Dairy Expo.