Cattle start their winter grazing - on turnips
As fall winds down and winter gets ready to come, many cattle in Marion County are grazing on crops planted for the dual reasons of soil conservation and feed.
Tim Kaufman’s cattle contentedly munched on oats Friday. Long radishes planted along with the oats were mostly sticking out of the ground with the leaves shorn off.
Growing cover crops and letting cattle graze in the fall and winter has become a popular practice, Kaufman said.
Since cattle eat oat plants down to the ground, no swathing or baling needs to be done.
The practice has more benefits than simply augmenting cattle feed, he said. It also saves on soil supplements for wheat or other primary crops.
Supplements became more expensive in 2021.
Cover crops also help hold soil in place so it doesn’t wash or blow away, and pits where radishes or turnips grow give rain a place to soak in to the soil.
In a field north of the oats and radishes, triticale is nearly ready for Kaufman’s cattle to graze next. He said cattle would be moved to the triticale field in about a week.
The hybrid wheat and rye plant continues growing well into cold weather.
Ed Meyer, who raises corn, soybeans, wheat, and cattle on his 750 to 800 acres, also raises cover crops for cattle to feed upon.
“Matt Meyerhoff at the conservation office got me started on that,” Meyer said.
When Meyer retired after 30 years with Boeing in Wichita, he took on his father’s Marion County farm.
“I had to take it over and I had to learn fast,” Meyer said.
The land originally belonged to Meyer’s grandfather. Later, his father took over the farm and added acreage.
“Around 1890, my grandfather and his family came from Germany and settled in that area,” he said.
Meyer said turnips were best for grazing, but he plants other cover crops, as well.
This year his cover crops include turnips, rye, wheat, triticale, and hairy vetch.
“Sometimes I have radishes with the turnips,” he said.
Meyer chooses cover crops that provide nutrients to the soil.
Last modified Dec. 2, 2021