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Forage Folks: A few of my favorite things from World Ag Expo 2012

FG Editor Lynn Olsen Published on 27 February 2012

0112fg_forage_folks_1Mid-February always brings a trip to California and World Ag Expo. We had 15 members of our team in attendance, and we all managed to stay plenty busy, working in our three booths, making sales and editorial contacts and our Progressive Dairyman team was the sponsor of nine dairy seminars during the week.

I didn’t get as much time out of the booth as I might have liked, but did manage to see some of the show. I thought it might be fun to share a few of my favorite things, though this is definitely not comprehensive (we don’t have enough pages for that).

—Lynn Olsen, FG Editor

New forage inoculant helps turn waste products into usable feed
Known more for their milking parlor equipment, the DeLaval booth wasn’t the first one that came to mind to visit for a forage editor, but they had an impressive display of silage samples inside the Farm Credit Dairy Center.

Each sample bin contents had been treated with a new forage inoculant, MiLab 393 (Mold Inhibiting Lactic Acid Bacteria), that is being marketed to inhibit yeasts and molds and optimize dry matter and nutrient retention.

A powdered formulation that is mixed with water and ideally applied at the chopper, MiLab can not only be used to treat traditional silages, but also help make what was once considered “junk” into a usable feed.

Samples of beet pulp and sweet corn cannery waste, which would normally quickly degrade and be unpalatable to animals, looked and smelled fresh.

waste product

The bin that particularly caught my eye was one that Mike Cotterill, national nutrition specialist for DeLaval, referred to as an “experiment” (see photo above) with citrus peelings, palm fronds, straw and grass clippings.

According to Cotterill, palm fronds contain up to 9 percent protein, equal to some of the other silages a producer might put up. Other crops they would like to look at in the future are carrots, tomatoes or other vegetable waste.

silage bagging machine

Silage-bagging machine built based on consumer feedback
This bright orange machine on display couldn’t help but catch your eye while walking the Expo grounds. (see photo above)

The owners of Pacific Forage Bag Supply of British Columbia, Canada and K-Manufacturing of Oregon teamed up to develop this new-to-the-market silage bagger after listening to feedback from producers and dealers.

The self-propelled silage bagger will be available with 10-foot, 12-foot or 14-foot tunnels.

The machine is 100 percent hydraulically driven, but also has the power behind it to make it work for maximum compaction, unlike some other hydraulic machines in the past. It has a track system instead of tires for better compaction and stability.

A removable wheel hitch with transport wheels means the machine can also be towed at highway speeds and folded up to a transport width of 8’ 6”.

The cab was designed specifically for this machine, and was placed on the left side for better sight lines and to work with the narrower frame for closely-laid bags.

The machine on display was the operating prototype, but they are gearing up for manufacturing in the near future. We’ll keep tabs on their progress and most likely provide additional information after this season.


Informative forage seminars
Tuesday brought cool, somewhat rainy weather and a day full of forage seminars. Always a popular speaker, Seth Hoyt opened the day with a discussion about the “Hay Situation and Outlook in the Western States.” (see photo above)

High hay prices have forced many dairy producers to feed less alfalfa in their rations, but Hoyt predicts prices will ease somewhat as we head into the first cutting.

He believes hay acres will be up in many Western states, but since many dairies are still fighting negative cash flow, demand will not be as high for alfalfa as it might have been in the past.

Presentations featuring new innovations in forage harvesting were next. Oxbo showed information about their new self-propelled merger that has a full 34-foot pick up width to simplify the “hay in a day” concept.

Staheli West, Inc. discussed their DewPoint 6110 (a World Ag Expo Top 10 new product) steam generation and injection system for baling hay.

Massey Ferguson gave information about their ultra-high-density baler that has the capacity to produce a 1,600- to 1,700-pound bale of alfalfa, maximizing available space on a truck.

The next presentation by Shredlage LLC talked about a new processor replacement that chops longer, ripping and tearing forage for better cow nutrition. And John Deere talked about precision farming and what a producer would need to consider before investing in any new technology.

The afternoon brought a panel discussion (see photo above) with a forage producer, a dairy producer and a nutritionist about “Making the Most of High-Quality Forages.”

The closing seminar was about pricing corn silage in today’s market. Most producers are paid today by tonnage, not quality. But both speakers said that in the future we need to look at a system that makes adjustments and possibly even pays premiums for high-quality silage, as we do for hay.

World Ag Expo Forage Challenge
Forage Challenge

A total of $18,000 in prizes was awarded to winners of the 2012 World Ag Expo Forage Challenge, sponsored in part by Mycogen Seeds. (see photo above)

Finalists were chosen from 77 entries from nine Western states. The competition challenged farmers to enter the best of what they grow to see who produced the highest-quality forage in the West.

Entries were judged in three categories: alfalfa hay, standard corn silage and brown mid-rib (BMR) corn silage.

Cash prizes were awarded based on forage lab analyses, along with a visual evaluation of the entries by experts in dairy nutrition and forage production.

2012 World Ag Expo Forage Challenge Winners

  • Alfalfa Hay

1st – Phil Troost, Springs Dairy, Lake Arthur, New Mexico
2nd – Greg Nunes, Nunes Farms, Modesto, California
3rd – David Hinman, Hardrock Farms, Wheatland, Wyoming

  • Corn Silage BMR

1st – Leo Van Warmerdam, Van Warmerdam Dairy, Galt, California
2nd – Mike Barcellos, Monster Dairy, Newman, California
3rd – Rich Callahan, Callahan Farms, Royal City, Washington

  • Corn Silage Non-BMR

1st – Kelly Callahan, Royal Turf Farms, Royal City, Washington
2nd – Rob Van Grouw, Elbow Creek Dairy, Visalia, California
3rd – Bert Weststeyn, Weststeyn Dairy Farms, Willows, California