Winter Food in Store

Earlier in the year we reported on what for us, in recent years, was an experiment : growing whole-crop peas and barley for silage. This provides a protein-rich winter feed for the cattle to add to the grass silage or hay that we make each year, and the kale that we grow for the cattle to eat in the fields.

In the spring we tilled and sowed two fields, Pond Field at Grabbishaw and Long Field at Stone Farm, with the peas and barley mix, and in both cases it was undersown with grass and clover. The idea of this is that when the peas and barley are harvested in late summer, the grass is already established under the whole-crop and will then grow on to provide more nutritious food for our animals.

Despite the unusually dry spring/early summer this year, the whole-crop grew well and was looking really good by the end of July. That was the time for Rob, our farm manager, to get going with the harvesting! The crop is first cut, rowed up and then baled, before being wrapped in a plastic film so that the feed becomes preserved as whole-crop silage and does not deteriorate.

And the good news is that we had a good crop which has all been carefully stored for the winter and the undersown grass is growing back really well. So, in a year of doubtful and sometimes difficult weather, the cows have some good winter fodder to look forward to, and, in the meantime, they can graze these fields with their tender new grass.