Farming Update: Haying & Pasturing

“A cool wet May fills the barn with hay,”  goes the old farm saying. That’s been true for us this year.

As most of you know first-hand, it has been a wet and cool spring and early summer. But we’ve been making round bale silage in and around the rain for later use as bedding and feed for our animals.

As of June 17th, we have made 981 wrapped round bales, 43 dry round bales and 465 small square bales. For acreage covered and total bales made, we are a little behind where we would like to be, but it’s not bad considering the wet weather and wet land.

Despite this, the quality and yields have been outstanding. The grass we are cutting is very green and leafy. This year, we made 132 bales on the first round of baling.  On the same fields last year, we made 78. One field, Middle Windmill, made 60 bales on the first cut. Last year it only made 40 bales for all three cuttings.

From last year’s drought to this year’s rain, it’s challenging to plan for a “normal” season. Whatever normal means any more.

But for now, the land is just beginning to really dry out, and in the next couple of weeks, we are planning on making a lot of dry hay—both round and square bales.  

In the cheese room, they’ve been on “Summer Classification” grading scale since May. This means the team is looking for a higher moisture target so that the cheese will age out appropriately. That’s the main thing they change as they transition from spring to summer cheesemaking.  

And the cows are  producing a LOT of milk this year! Milk production and yield are both up, and therefore cheese production is up. This makes cheesemakers very happy. 

Sam Dixon, Dairy Manager

Posted by Sam Dixon

June 17, 2019


Thank you Sam for educating us on the tiniest of environmental and nutritional details that make 'Haying' a key staple to the global mission of Shelburne Farms. I love how spectacularly different the landscape looks just after a fresh cutting. The new Round Bales appear to sit majestically on the surface.
I enjoy learning more about the cycles of farming and raising a dairy herd, especially the purposeful work that creates the best cheddar ever!

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