Ste. Rose-area beef producer says he's seeing significant benefits from corn grazing on his operation. Dean Gamache was one of the presenters at a number of Manitoba Forage Council grazing club meetings held across the province this week.

"Someone once told me 'cows have feet and plants have roots, so do the math'," says Dean Gamache. "We've determined the more steel and fuel you put between the feed and the cow, the more expensive it is of course."

He explains every fall they partition their corn field into three to five acre paddocks and then let their cattle harvest the corn. "Each paddock lasts three or four days. We supplement them with a little bit of hay the day before we move them to help them clean up some of the residual stalks and stuff that is left after they eat the cobs. We manage it in this way through the winter."

Gamache says the corn grazing is limited to 65 to 70 days during the winter. "That's restricted only by the number acres we have available to grow the corn. If I could do it longer, we probably would."

He says traditional "mechanical" hay feeding, according to numbers he's heard from other producers, costs between $1.50 and $2 per cow per day. Gamache says corn grazing only costs $0.80 to $1.20 per head per day. And that's on top of the time and labour savings. "Because we only feed the cows once every three to four days, it allows you to have a lot more of a life," he says. "Time management-wise, labour-wise this has been a really good system for us."

"I have a problem trying to figure ways to make it easier because easy is good. We have limited labour available. This allows us to be away from the farm more, more involved in minor hockey and that type of thing. This allows us to do that and not have to be on the tractor every day. It frees up a lot of time for family time."

~ Friday, November 19, 2010 ~