What Do Grass-Fed Cows Eat In The Winter?
Have you ever wondered what a 100% Grass-Fed cow eats in the winter months when there is clearly no grass growing in Ontario. We are asked this question quite often and the simple answer is.......100% Grass-Fed cows eat "hay" in the wintertime. This might raise more questions.....What is hay? How is hay prepared and stored for the cold Winter months in southern Ontario?
Today I would like to give you a little glimpse into our "haymaking" process at Wilderness Ranch.
First of all: What is "hay"? Hay is simply: "grass that has been mown and dried for use as fodder (food)." So how is this done? Let me tell you.....
Our haying work begins in June....all the hayfields have received lots of spring rain (hopefully) and are lush and green.....and tall....sometimes so tall that the 4-year-old could get lost in it.
This is how we know it's time to cut the grass. We definitely watch the weather forecast this time of year - the best hay is made when it can dry without getting rained on at all!!!
The grass is cut and laid into rows with a big grass cutter (called a "haybine") that is pulled behind the tractor.
Once all the grass in the field has been cut into rows, it is left to dry for a day or two....this is where those really nice, sunny days in June come in handy!!!!
Once the grass is dried enough, it is baled into big round bales. A baler is pulled behind the tractor.....it drives over each hay row, picking up the dried grass (hay) and packing it very tightly together into a round bale inside the machine.
Once the bale is the right size, the baler ties string around the bale to hold it all together, and then it is dumped out into the field.
Hay bales make a great "playground" for the "junior farmers".
The hay bales then need to be all picked up with a tractor, and loaded onto big wagons to be hauled over to where they are wrapped in plastic.
The hay bales are then placed in long rows and wrapped very tightly in white plastic to prevent spoilage.
This is how they are stored until they are needed in the Winter Months for feeding the livestock.
And once all the grass has been cut, baled and wrapped.....the grasses in the fields begin to grow again and we start the whole process all over in 6-8 weeks. Needless to say, this is definitely one of the things that keeps us busy in the Summer Months.
I plan to do a blog post on the "feeding process" of the hay to the cows in the future....watch for that this winter!!!
I hope you enjoyed your glimpse into our "haymaking" process. It's this luscious grass/hay that makes for delicious (& healthy) Grass-Fed beef.
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