Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Combining and Grinding Gold

Last week we harvested our final two fields of corn. This corn was meant to be corn silage harvested in the fall, but wet weather delayed harvest plans. Now it will be fed to our cows as ground corn. For more information and photos about our corn planting and harvesting this year, check out my blog Harvesting Corn Silage for our Cows.

What's the difference between corn silage and ground corn? Corn silage is the entire corn plant (stalk, ear, husk & cob) chopped up. Ground corn is only the kernels. The combining process harvests only the individual kernels, nothing else. We grind the kernels to the consistency of corn meal. Both are ingredients of our cows diet. To learn more about what our cows eat, check out my blog Dairy Diet – What do Cows Eat?

We hired a custom harvester to combine this corn and haul it to our dairy. It took two days to combine both fields which consisted of about 45 acres.
The combine harvesting corn
There's snow on the ground
A recently combined row
The stalks of corn
Transferring the corn from the combine to the truck that will haul it to the dairy
The corn kernels are placed in a pile on a concrete pad at our dairy. The kernels are loaded into this gravity flow wagon which feeds them into the grinder. The result is ground corn which looks and feels like corn meal.
The gravity flow wagon feeds corn into the grinder powered by the tractor
Joe shovels corn from the wagon
Corn transferring from the wagon into the grinder
Kernels going into the grinder
Ground corn flowing out of the grinder
The pile of corn kernels on the left and the ground corn on the right
The corn in two forms - ground and kernels

 My youngest son, Jack, had a great time playing in the corn. . . .

The ground corn is mixed with other ingredients and fed to our cows. . . .
Joe checking the feed in the mixer wagon
The cows enjoying their meal!
 We refer to corn as gold because the cost of purchasing corn is so high. The price of corn has tripled over the last 5 to 6 years which is the reason we now grow our own. It’s cheaper to grow it than to purchase it from another farmer or the local grain supplier. This takes extra equipment and labor, but in order to survive in the dairy business today, it’s essential to grow as much of your cow’s feed as possible.

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