Monthly Archives:: June 2017

Farming for Future Generations

Farming for future generations

by: Greg Lamp, Editor-in-Chief, CHS May 16, 2017

When members of the Cronin family — and it’s a big family — began paying more attention to the land under their care, they had no idea they would be recognized for their conservation efforts. In fact, they weren’t even aware of the prestigious Leopold Conservation Award until they received it last year.

“It was tremendous to get this award and a pat on the back for what we’ve been doing all along,” says Casey Cronin, who is charged with managing the operation’s 800 Angus cows.

“We just want to take care of our land and make it better for future generations,” adds Dan Forgey, farm manager.

The Leopold Conservation Award, inspired by conservationist Aldo Leopold, recognizes extraordinary achievements in voluntary conservation by private landowners.

Brothers Monty and Mike Cronin and their extended families share the honor with an impressive list of past winners. Their sons Casey, Corey and Tregg are poised to become the land’s next caretakers.

“We’ve been no-tilling for 23 years, but in 2006 we took a harder look at what we were doing and began working with cover crops,” says Forgey, who manages the operation’s 8,000 tillable and 8,000 grassland acres. “That’s when we started working our cattle into the crop side of the operation for a more holistic approach.”

Forgey says no-till management has been the number-one way they’ve been able to build resilience into their soils, especially to improve water-holding capacity.
“It takes years to build up soil to see results. You have to give it time,” says Mike Cronin.

The Cronins have seen higher yields and returns by diversifying crop rotation with corn, wheat, peas, lentils, flax and sunflowers.

For example, following pea harvest in July, they immediately plant cover crops, which keep moisture in the soil and offer high-quality grazing for cows and calves.

The Cronins work with CHS Northern Plains, and like the partnership they have developed.

“[The Cronins] always take a sustainable approach to agriculture, farming today for tomorrow,” says John Muske, agronomy department manager at CHS Northern Plains, Gettysburg, S.D. “They also help those outside the industry to understand ag.”

Tips for helping cattle deal with heat stress

It is going to get really hot next week, so I thought I would send out a reminder and some tips for helping cattle deal with heat stress.

 

  • Put some more water stations in the pen if possible. A stock tank put over the fence and filled with water several times a day will help the cattle stay hydrated when all are trying to drink at once. I have one producer who uses stock tanks with round bale feeders bolted inside to keep the cattle from climbing into the tanks.

 

  • If you sprinkle, make sure to do enough to get the cattle wet. A light misting will only raise the humidity in the pen and make the situation much worse.

 

  • Make a wet area in the pen where the cattle can go to dissipate heat and lay down, with either the water truck or sprinklers.

 

  • Using a thin layer of bedding (straw or stalks) helps cool the pen surface temperature so the cattle can dissipate heat. The pen surface can get several degrees hotter than the ambient temperature.

 

  • HydroLac, which is basically ‘Gatorade in a pellet’, has been shown to reduce heat stress in feedlot and dairy cattle and helps them stay on feed. Use it at 0.25# per head per day during the heat event. Of course, a 50 lb bag will treat 200 head.

 

  • Fat, black-hided cattle are much more susceptible to dying from heat stress than other cattle, so if you are forced to use limited resources to help the feedlot get through this, focus on these animals first.

 

Most importantly, be proactive! If the cattle get to heatstroke stage, their organs start shutting down and nothing can save them.

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