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What Are Your Forage Plans This Year?

img_1931.JPG The grass is quickly greening up in Southeast South Dakota, and I can hardly wait until May when we work the pairs and move them out to pasture for summer grazing. Despite the fact that the weatherman is predicting snow in my locale by Friday, I can’t help but think of the upcoming season and what it means on the ranch — cutting, baling and moving hay, rotating pastures, creep-feeding, fixing fence and watching the calves grow.

With summer just around the corner, BEEF magazine has posted a new online reader poll at You’ll find it in the center column under “BEEF Poll.” This week’s question is: Are you planning any changes in your forage and hay program this year?

I plan to...

* Grow less hay, buy more

* Grow more hay, buy less

* Plan to pasture cattle year round

* No change from last year

Be sure to vote in the poll, and don’t forget to fill us in at the BEEF Daily comments section on your forage plans for the summer and the rest of the year. What are your goals for the grazing and haying months?

Here’s my plans: My husband and I recently bought a square baler, and although my dad typically does the round-baling, we hope to contribute with the squares, which we use during calving season and at cattle shows. In the past, we have bought the square bales from the neighbor, which was an expense that quickly added up. With our purchase, we hope to sell what we don’t need to local horse owners. We have also considered getting certified as “weed free” through the South Dakota Department of Agriculture to add value to the bales. If you have any advice or experience in this market, feel free to add your words of wisdom in the comments section below.

By the way, more than 350 readers weighed in on our previous poll question: Do you consider genomics (DNA marker data) when buying herd bulls? Of respondents, 16% said genomics data is their main consideration in buying herd bulls, while 39% of respondents said they do consider marker data in their bull-buying decisions but regard EPDs as more important. Another 33% said they only look at EPDs and don’t consider DNA marker data at all, and 11% reported they don’t consider any genetic information tools (EPDs, genomics data, ultrasound) in their decision process.

Just a quick reminder that tomorrow is the deadline for the BEEF Daily 'Calves and Cowboys' Photo Contest. Send your entry to, and check out the collection of photos in the gallery.