October 19, 2021

From the Pastures: Making moves

We have been blessed in central Illinois. I took a photo out of my house window Aug. 15 and the grass was emerald green, just like it should be May 15. So, I have lots of forage. I grazed the wheat stubble, knee-high foxtail, pigweed, red clover and volunteer wheat for 14 days with 140 lambs and 122 ewes and still had too much growing forage there to plant cover crops into.

So, I disked it at an angle and came back and disked at a different angle the second time to chop up the growing forage and make a good seed bed. Then I rolled it, spun on the small seeds and drilled in the large seeds and then rolled it the way the drill went. In seven days I had 4-inch tall oats and rye and sprouting brassicas and in 14 days it was all up and green. And we are off to the races again.

This will be the field I will put finish on my lambs in October to December if I have any left by then. Lamb prices as of Sept. 13 are over $2.50 per pound for lambs 60 to 80 pounds and for 120-pound lambs I can get $2.20 per pound. Old ewes are bringing 80 cents to $1.20 per pound, so I’m moving sheep.

For your pasture grass, remember to give it time to fully recover from the previous grazing. Look at the leaf tip. If it’s blunt, then rest it some more, but if it’s boat-shaped, then it can be grazed. Hay removes 40 to 60 pounds of nitrogen, 13 pounds of P2O2 and 48 pounds of K2O per ton of hay removed. So, if you don’t feed the hay back onto the ground it came from, you’re losing those nutrients and will need to replace them with fertilizer.

But if you buy hay, bring it onto your farm and feed it out on your field, you’re getting those nutrients added to your soil. Never store hay on the ground, but put it on pallets or poles. The best way to store hay is inside a shed. The savings in hay and nutrients will pay for the building. Balance your soil’s P, K and pH by getting a soil test done and follow the recommendations. The fall time is a good time to get soil tests done.

Get outside and enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and beautiful fall days. We are still the freest nation in the world.

Elton Mau

Elton Mau

Arrowsmith, Ill.