Why do I feed them this? Part 2

Cattle are naturally curious

When my husband and I moved back to the family farm in 1997, one of the big things that we looked at and discussed at length was “how to ensure that our farm was sustainable”, year after year.  This is a common subject of debate amongst the agricultural community because we all know that we must take care of the land so that it can take care of us, year after year, generation after generation.

Our farm (like many in Nebraska) is comprised of a crop farm and a livestock (cattle) farm.  We raise alfalfa, corn, and a little bit of soy beans and wheat.  My husband also owns and operates an alfalfa dehydration plant.  This allows him to harvest the alfalfa, dehydrate it, and then form it into feed pellets.  These feed pellets make the alfalfa easier to store and ship.  Alfalfa dehy pellets are a high quality and high protein animal feed and is fed to chickens, dairy cows, zoo animals, gerbils/hamsters, and horses.  Our land in the Platte River Valley is very conducive for growing crops—more conducive for growing crops than for grass pasture.  The soil is rich in nutrients and we have an abundance of ground water.

Because of this, our livestock operation is a cattle feedyard (as opposed to a cow-calf/ranch operation).  It is a more efficient use of our resources to grow crops to feed to animals and then to finish animals in a cattle feedyard.  The weather in Nebraska plays a huge role in this reasoning.  Our growing season is only 5-6 months long, so we need to grow as much animal feed as possible during that time so that we have something to feed to our livestock during the sometimes ENDLESS winter months (at least they sometimes seem endless to this Florida girl!).

Our farm makes a sustainable circle:  our soil grows crops—the crops are fed to livestock—the livestock makes both a high quality

My daughters are the 4th generation to live on our farm (my husband is the 3rd).

human protein food, and natural fertilizer to put back on the soil to keep the soil healthy.  In this way, we can optimize the use of our natural resources.  With a growing world population and a limited amount of natural resources, this is an exceptionally important concept.

Nebraska does have a large number of cow-calf operations in the areas of the state that do not have as fertile a soil as we have in the Platte River Valley.  Those folks rely on us to grow extra livestock feed for them to use in the winter months when the grass does not grow.  You see, we are able to grow more feed than our own animals need so we have extra to provide to the parts of our state and our country where animal feed is needed.  If we were only to grow grass pasture, and not to grow crops; this would not be the case.

Did you know…. cattle out number people 4 to 1 in the state of Nebraska!

Click to read part 1

5 Comments

Filed under CAFO, Environmental Stewardship, Nutrition (cattle and human)

5 responses to “Why do I feed them this? Part 2

  1. Pingback: What Do I Feed My Cattle? Part 1 | Feed Yard Foodie

  2. Hi,
    Have heard of Nurisol?
    Let me know
    Thanks

  3. Very good post, I love it when farmers can keep the farm going. My son in law is 5th or maybe 6th gen. Of farmers. The younger ones have spread out and bought more land, they now raise cattle, tomatoes, strawberries, sod, citrus and land scape plants and a few smaller crops. I read in the paper today that the USDA has backed down on the lunch program and will allow more meats and grains in the meals. I am so glad to know this as I know that some children never have enough to eat at home and look forward to a filling meal at school. I do thank you for a really interesting and informative blog that I always enjoy reading. Ellie

    • Thank you Ellie! I am glad that you find my posts interesting and informative–I am also glad to hear that USDA is going to allow changes on the lunch program. There are many children in our community (as well as yours) that rely on that nutrition and filling meal to get them through the day.

      Where in Florida do you live?

      Anne

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