Most of the forage fed to the Miner Institute dairy herd is grown here on the farm. Grass, alfalfa-grass and corn are harvested from about 700 acres. Around 340 acres is corn crop, which is planted in the spring once the soil is warm enough for the seed to germinate. Corn is harvested in the early fall, when the plant has about 65 to 70 percent moisture left. The moisture makes it possible for proper fermentation which helps to preserve the corn to be fed throughout the year.
Alfalfa-grass mix and grass is grown on about 375 acres. The fields are harvested three to four times per growing season. Much of the alfalfa and grass are ensiled at 60 to 65 percent moisture and need less drying time in the field.
Forage is stored in horizontal concrete silos or tube-like plastic bags. After fermentation, the forages are fed to the cows and make up an important part of their diet.
Manure Management -
Animal waste at Miner Institute is stored either in the manure lagoon or compost area. The manure lagoon is approximately 2.5 acres large and holds five million gallons of waste from 300 cows and 200 heifers. The lagoon is clay lined and can hold about 10 months of waste.
The compost area accomodates waste from the transition cow barn, the calf hutches, calf greenhouse, and the horses. Composting manure, when properly handled, can result in a reduction in manure volume and weight and a reduction in pathogens.
Nutrient Management -
Miner Institute follows a nutrient management plan that determines how much manure or purchased fertilizer needs to be applied to each field. Soil tests combined with manure analysis determine the nutrients needed by either corn or alfalfa/grass to maximize the yield and quality of the feed produced. The type of soil and the field location to waterways are also considered when determining how much manure should be applied to a field each year.
Learn about Miner Institute's crops/nutrient management research