The turning of the leaves in early fall signal to dairy farmers that it is time to start havesting their crops. The crops they have been growing all summer are finally ready to be harvested so that their is enough feed for their cows to eat during the cold, wet winter!
Between late September and early October, lots of farmers harvest the corn they planted in the late spring. Once the corn is in between 8 to 12 feet tall, the stalks of corn are chopped into small one-inch pieces, making it easier for cows to digest. Kernels of corn contain lots of nutrients, which cows need, so each kern is smashed to make digestion easier for cows.
In addition to harvesting corn, farmers are also making their final cuts of grass before the winter.
BC can be pretty wet this time of the year, which makes it difficult for farmers to dry their grass for hay. Instead of making hay, farmers will use their grass for silage. Silage is damp grass that gets stored away before it gets completely dry. Through the fall and winter months the damp grass will ferment and then be mixed with corn and sometimes additional supplements to make Total Mixed Ration (TMR). TMR provides cows with a fully balanced ration of all the nutrients they need, cows also find it to be very delicious!
Once the harvesting of the fields is complete, farmers must keep their now bare fields top soiled. Farmers will spread fertilizing cow manure on their fields and then prepare the fields to be planted for the winter. This planting is called using a 'cover crop'. Farmers know they won't get much feed or yield from it from this planting but it guarantees that the field will be ready to grow some excellent feed in the Spring!