...beyond the choir! Or you - farmers and ranchers - tell people what you are really doing out there!
Beef. It's What's for Dinner in Washington State posted a link to a scholarly article about livestock use of feed resources. It confirms what we all know - livestock farmers are using what others don't want as much as possible to produce food and fiber!
For us in the fall that means crop aftermath. Corn stalks, wheat, grass or alfalfa regrowth are all great cow feed. Pictures aren't great as this was one of the days earlier this month when we were smoked in. I'll just say this about wildfire - cows, sheep and loggers are a huge part of the solution!
All of our cows and heifers carrying calves to be born next spring are currently eating bluegrass regrowth. You know that plant that you enjoy as a lawn, golf course, or sports field. These fields were harvested for seed earlier in the summer. The kicker about bluegrass for seed production is it wants/needs to be "shocked" to make more seed the next year. I grew up in the Bluegrass country of the Northern Palouse. In that area to make bluegrass seed production work farmers need to burn their fields. Fire has been taken out of the farmer's toolbox in that region making seed production no longer viable on a large scale.
In the Basin the bluegrass straw is baled and removed (after the seed is removed from the seed heads with a combine). Following baling, bluegrass seed growers like to have cows come in to graze the regrowth down to "shock" the plant. Our crew spends lots of time building single strand hot (electric) fence to keep cows in specific areas of a field. This allows our cows to utilize the nutrition of the bluegrass while helping the farmer have a better crop next year.
In the case of grazing cornstalks, cows are replacing the tractor! Cows adequately grazing standing corn stalks (after grain has been harvested) will decrease the times a farmer will need to till a field to prepare it for next year's crop.
So when you drive through the Basin on I-90 this fall and winter and see groups of cows on what looks like crop fields, you are right! Cows utilizing what humans can't and helping the farmers.