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Thread: Profit from Organic Systems

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lead Cow View Post
    No fertiliser application = less grass grown + no weed control = land covered in thistles etc then stocking rate drops off from say 4 cows/hectare to maybe about 2.5/hectare ! I'm probably missing a whole lot here and obviously the report that you posted shows that well run organic farms can compete profit wise with the best of conventional farms .

    Nice pic Whistle Pig . Sounds like going organic has worked out well for you.
    I'm working off the assumption that no commercial fertilizer=more clovers=free nitrogen=reasonable grass growth. Also, longer rest periods=taller grass=more weed shading. And higher covers lets me put more animals on a smaller piece of ground for the day, resting the other 98% of the farm, and trampling the crap out of unpalatable weeds. At least one of my steers willingly eats young thistles. I am also thinking that if the grass is very young and high in protein (>20%) that animals are much less likely to eat "weeds" that are also high in protein. But, if the grass is lower in protein 14-16% (for the leaves and some stem they are eating) they will be more willing to go after the higher protein broadleafs and thistles. I had a lot of dandelions on my place last spring, think a field of mostly yellow, but the animals would graze them to the ground as soon as they were let into a paddock...really interested to see the comparison to this year.

    The down sides will be less grass growth overall, and especially less grass growth in the spring. Though I will say, leaving significant covers going into last fall seems to have helped spring greenup this year. I am also working off a different set of economics in this climate. Renting good crop land is $100/acre/year, poor cropland is $30-60, and some land isn't farmed at all. I am sure this is not the case in NZ or places that need to be irrigated to be productive at all. So, for me, running more ground is almost always cheaper (per ton of DM produced) than getting maximum production from that ground. If I was working in a area with land prices and rents at 5X what they are here, that would obviously be different.

    Also, $900 gross per acre is just about the best possible income per acre up here, aside from specialty crops. Hay, corn, soybeans, wheat, none of them come close at current prices even with top yields. If I can make it work, grazing weaner calves into 600 pound feeders makes almost as much gross per acre, and net profit is ~$500/acre at current beef prices

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by whistle pig View Post
    With organic there are very few quick fixes for problems. Much more time spent heading problems off rather than reacting to them.
    What tools that you used to be able to use in conventional production do you miss, if any?

  3. #23

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    [QUOTE=cows250;51724]I'm working off the assumption that no commercial fertilizer=more clovers=free nitrogen=reasonable grass growth. Also, longer rest periods=taller grass=more weed shading. And higher covers lets me put more animals on a smaller piece of ground for the day, resting the other 98% of the farm, and trampling the crap out of unpalatable weeds. At least one of my steers willingly eats young thistles. I am also thinking that if the grass is very young and high in protein (>20%) that animals are much less likely to eat "weeds" that are also high in protein. But, if the grass is lower in protein 14-16% (for the leaves and some stem they are eating) they will be more willing to go after the higher protein broadleafs and thistles. I had a lot of dandelions on my place last spring, think a field of mostly yellow, but the animals would graze them to the ground as soon as they were let into a paddock...really interested to see the comparison to this year.

    The down sides will be less grass growth overall, and especially less grass growth in the spring. Though I will say, leaving significant covers going into last fall seems to have helped spring greenup this year. I am also working off a different set of economics in this climate. Renting good crop land is $100/acre/year, poor cropland is $30-60, and some land isn't farmed at all. I am sure this is not the case in NZ or places that need to be irrigated to be productive at all. So, for me, running more ground is almost always cheaper (per ton of DM produced) than getting maximum production from that ground. If I was working in a area with land prices and rents at 5X what they are here, that would obviously be different.

    Also, $900 gross per acre is just about the best possible income per acre up here, aside from specialty crops. Hay, corn, soybeans, wheat, none of them come close at current prices even with top yields. If I can make it work, grazing weaner calves into 600 pound feeders makes almost as much gross per acre, and net profit is ~$500/acre at current beef prices[/QUOTE

    I like your grazing philosophy. "Weeds" should always be written like this when discussing pasture

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by cows250 View Post
    I'm working off the assumption that no commercial fertilizer=more clovers=free nitrogen=reasonable grass growth. Also, longer rest periods=taller grass=more weed shading. And higher covers lets me put more animals on a smaller piece of ground for the day, resting the other 98% of the farm, and trampling the crap out of unpalatable weeds. At least one of my steers willingly eats young thistles. I am also thinking that if the grass is very young and high in protein (>20%) that animals are much less likely to eat "weeds" that are also high in protein. But, if the grass is lower in protein 14-16% (for the leaves and some stem they are eating) they will be more willing to go after the higher protein broadleafs and thistles. I had a lot of dandelions on my place last spring, think a field of mostly yellow, but the animals would graze them to the ground as soon as they were let into a paddock...really interested to see the comparison to this year.

    The down sides will be less grass growth overall, and especially less grass growth in the spring. Though I will say, leaving significant covers going into last fall seems to have helped spring greenup this year. I am also working off a different set of economics in this climate. Renting good crop land is $100/acre/year, poor cropland is $30-60, and some land isn't farmed at all. I am sure this is not the case in NZ or places that need to be irrigated to be productive at all. So, for me, running more ground is almost always cheaper (per ton of DM produced) than getting maximum production from that ground. If I was working in a area with land prices and rents at 5X what they are here, that would obviously be different.

    Also, $900 gross per acre is just about the best possible income per acre up here, aside from specialty crops. Hay, corn, soybeans, wheat, none of them come close at current prices even with top yields. If I can make it work, grazing weaner calves into 600 pound feeders makes almost as much gross per acre, and net profit is ~$500/acre at current beef prices
    So you are grazing pastures with dry stock i.e. steers , yearlings etc ? It's a bit different to trying to get maximum milk production from pasture which requires very careful management for good results , isn't it ?

    Also , I have the impression that the soils in Americas mid west are naturally quite fertile for the most part . Sounds like it anyway .

    Why would no commercial fertiliser = more clover ? Unless you mean nitrogen fertiliser . The economics of nitrogen fert for a beef/dry stock enterprise wouldn't make sense anyway normally .

    It's good that you can lease land at reasonable prices . It's good to se you are doing well .
    "Those people who say they have no time for bodily exercise will soon have to find time for illness ". Joseph Pilates

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lead Cow View Post
    So you are grazing pastures with dry stock i.e. steers , yearlings etc ? It's a bit different to trying to get maximum milk production from pasture which requires very careful management for good results , isn't it ?

    Also , I have the impression that the soils in Americas mid west are naturally quite fertile for the most part . Sounds like it anyway .

    Why would no commercial fertiliser = more clover ? Unless you mean nitrogen fertiliser . The economics of nitrogen fert for a beef/dry stock enterprise wouldn't make sense anyway normally .

    It's good that you can lease land at reasonable prices . It's good to se you are doing well .
    I agree... if I tried that lax sort of grazing here my cows would probably dry up or if go broke with the diesel bill.

    We take the opposite approach and stay aggressive as much as possible. Spring is a 15-17 day round. Summer depends on species and fall we lengthen to build cover.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoerMaak'nPlan View Post
    What tools that you used to be able to use in conventional production do you miss, if any?
    Life would be easier with herbicides and conventional fertilizers.

    At first I was very apprehensive at the thought of not using antibiotics to treat mastitis, with the lower production and stress we have very little mastitis issues.

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by whistle pig View Post
    Life would be easier with herbicides and conventional fertilizers.

    At first I was very apprehensive at the thought of not using antibiotics to treat mastitis, with the lower production and stress we have very little mastitis issues.
    That's interesting, would not have guessed herbicides would be on your list. How long have you been organic? After dropping the antibiotics to treat mastitis I do wonder how much they actually help cure most cases vs the cow heals on her own but we always give antibiotics so never know.

  8. #28
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    [QUOTE=Kiwi_Milker;51732]I agree... if I tried that lax sort of grazing here my cows would probably dry up or if go broke with the diesel bill.

    We take the opposite approach and stay aggressive as much as possible. Spring is a 15-17 day round. Summer depends on species and fall we lengthen to build cover.





    15 days is very quick . It's a fine line though isn't it ?

    It's mid autumn here now . All the resowing is completed which is around 30% of effective area . Applying urea to established pastures and getting set for calving which is Due 1st May onwards . Have 250 to calve before end of June .

    Guess the holiday is just about over !
    "Those people who say they have no time for bodily exercise will soon have to find time for illness ". Joseph Pilates

  9. #29
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    [QUOTE=Lead Cow;51738]
    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_Milker View Post
    I agree... if I tried that lax sort of grazing here my cows would probably dry up or if go broke with the diesel bill.

    We take the opposite approach and stay aggressive as much as possible. Spring is a 15-17 day round. Summer depends on species and fall we lengthen to build cover.





    15 days is very quick . It's a fine line though isn't it ?

    It's mid autumn here now . All the resowing is completed which is around 30% of effective area . Applying urea to established pastures and getting set for calving which is Due 1st May onwards . Have 250 to calve before end of June .

    Guess the holiday is just about over !

    15 days is fast... but the money is always close to the edge of the cliff!

    Honestly it's the only way we can maintain quality and hit target residuals and minimise topping.

    Not that I'm against topping but it just doesn't fit us


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  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoerMaak'nPlan View Post
    That's interesting, would not have guessed herbicides would be on your list. How long have you been organic? After dropping the antibiotics to treat mastitis I do wonder how much they actually help cure most cases vs the cow heals on her own but we always give antibiotics so never know.
    I was certified in 2004, There were no government standards at that time.....it was much easier to transition. My success rate for curing mastitis is probably exactly the same now as it was when I used antibiotics.

    I say herbicides mostly for growing corn. Bad timing when planting and no amount of cultivating can get the corn ahead of the weeds.

  11. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by whistle pig View Post
    I was certified in 2004, There were no government standards at that time.....it was much easier to transition. My success rate for curing mastitis is probably exactly the same now as it was when I used antibiotics.

    I say herbicides mostly for growing corn. Bad timing when planting and no amount of cultivating can get the corn ahead of the weeds.
    Right on, you been at it for awhile. My employer is currently transitioning, fascinating process. I have read a few articles by vets saying it can be a good idea to wait before treating because it may start to clear on its own, could start a whole thread on that. I realize you are up north a bit but have you tried a rye crop before corn combined with a slightly later planting date? Works well here, the growing season is longer though.

  12. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_Milker View Post
    I agree... if I tried that lax sort of grazing here my cows would probably dry up or if go broke with the diesel bill.

    We take the opposite approach and stay aggressive as much as possible. Spring is a 15-17 day round. Summer depends on species and fall we lengthen to build cover.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk
    Where I work the grazing strategy is very similar to what cows250 does. No to very little fertilizer, shortest round is 30-35 days, trample a good amount at certain times of the year. Focus is on promoting biological life in the soil. Diverse stands with a lot of clover, and no herbicide ever, don't even cut thistles.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoerMaak'nPlan View Post
    Where I work the grazing strategy is very similar to what cows250 does. No to very little fertilizer, shortest round is 30-35 days, trample a good amount at certain times of the year. Focus is on promoting biological life in the soil. Diverse stands with a lot of clover, and no herbicide ever, don't even cut thistles.
    What type of grass is the main pasture species?

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk

  14. #34
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    I plant over 500 acres of rye every year, its a great tool. In the picture on this thread the cows are grazing rye that was seeded directly after corn silage, that field will go back into silage corn when the cows are done with it. waiting for the ground to warm is definitely a prerequisite to getting a good crop....every year is different tho.

    I have learned a lot, mostly the hard way....another 50 years and I might know something. Sounds weird, but it is fun trying to figure out how to make this work.

  15. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_Milker View Post
    What type of grass is the main pasture species?

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk
    Varies from pasture to pasture year to year. Probably orchard grass is the most prevalent grass, get a good stand of crabgrass come on in the summer too. Some k31, Matua brome, ryegrass, stuff I can't ID, lots of clovers, alfalfa, Forbes like chicory, plantain, stuff I don't know what it is.

  16. #36

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    [QUOTE=whistle pig;51748]I plant over 500 acres of rye every year, its a great tool. In the picture on this thread the cows are grazing rye that was seeded directly after corn silage, that field will go back into silage corn when the cows are done with it. waiting for the ground to warm is definitely a prerequisite to getting a good crop....every year is different tho.

    I have learned a lot, mostly the hard way....another 50 years and I might know something. Sounds weird, but it is fun trying to figure out how to make this work.[/QUOTE
    That's a lot of rye! Do you grow grain that you sell as well or feed everything you grow?

  17. #37
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    We sell most of the grain we grow. 140 cows get 40 acres of corn silage and 50 for high moisture corn.

  18. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lead Cow View Post
    With the riseing interest in organic dairy products, how is the profitability from their systems in comparison to conventional systems ?
    Really wish I was close enough to supply these guyshttp://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/03/22/520015345/why-more-farmers-are-making-the-switch-to-grass-fed-meat-and-dairy

  19. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by whistle pig View Post
    We sell most of the grain we grow. 140 cows get 40 acres of corn silage and 50 for high moisture corn.
    I see. How is your margin on organic grains vs conventional market? Obviously you would have missed the high price years for conventional and right now just about anything is more profitable that current conventional grain prices.

  20. #40
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    I didn't miss much, we sold corn for $15-$17 when conventional was $7.

    There are a lot of organic grains being imported now, $7-8 for corn is realistic right now.

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