There is no doubt about it, spring has sprung, and summer days are inevitably soon to follow. Springtime in rural New York means tractors on the road, cows on pasture, and crops going in the ground. Planting season is an important and busy time on the farm. It is often said that farmers get one chance to get the seed in the ground, accurately, and efficiently. It’s true. Farmers work from before sunrise to beyond sunset and sometimes race Mother Nature to ensure corn seeds and soybeans are planted in just the right place and at just the right time, covering every acre of every field.
Farmers work through the winter months preparing for spring planting. They plan and prepare where and when manure will be applied, ensuring each gallon of manure is applied in the exact location it is needed. Manure is utilized to add an appropriate amount of nutrients to the soil allowing crops to flourish. When fields are prepared, planting begins. Soybeans and corn are two common crops you see throughout the countryside in New York. These crops are two key components in the diets of numerous species within the sectors of animal agriculture. Let’s take a deeper look into these two ingredients.
Animal agriculture is the number one customer for U.S. soybeans which means that poultry, pigs, beef, dairy, and even fish consume components of soy in a variety of forms. Soybeans are a protein source for animals providing essential amino acids to their diets. Soybean meal, which is fed to animals, is a by-product of the extraction of soybean oil from a soybean.
Another key ingredient in an animal’s diet is corn. Corn is consumed in a variety of ways, depending on the species. Dairy cows consume corn silage which is the entire stalk of corn chopped into pieces and fermented while pigs can eat whole, cracked, or crushed corn. Corn provides a high-energy and nutritional option for farmers to utilize on their farm.
A farm animal’s diet is usually comprised of other nutritious ingredients in addition to corn and soybeans. This mixture of feed is known as a TMR. Ingredients for a total mixed ration (TMR) on modern dairy farms may also include minerals, cotton seed, haylage, and even chocolate! Just like your diet needs a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy providing you with fiber, protein, and energy, our animals need the same. Our animals require consistent nutrition, similar to Olympic athletes, to perform well and stay healthy. Farmers work to guarantee that their animals receive top-quality feed every single day.