Newsletter April 2017: Opening Day

Opening Day

Well, spring is very unofficially here. I know we’ll still have a few more cold swings but the warmer than usual February-March has made for things getting rolling here in the first week of April at Alden Hills. April is usually a very productive month on the farm as it’s warm enough to get a jumpstart on summer projects but it’s still too early for hay, and chicken chores are still minimal. Although this is only my second spring running a herd of cattle on grass I am quickly realizing that the beginnings of spring grazing can be a nerve-racking experience. Spring is exciting and intimidating at the same time because it lays the foundation for the whole year. 

For example, if it’s a wet spring it can delay our first hay cutting which in turn means that hay might be overmatured when we bale it, which means that it will contain sub-optimal nutrition. It can also push back the 2nd and 3rd hay cuttings, reduce our yields, and leave us short on feed for the winter.

Raising animals on pasture leaves you completely at the mercy of nature; in the spring this is a unique challenge. A key component of rotational grazing is matching your grazing speed with your plant growth (to ensure cattle are grazing grass when it is at its most nutrient heavy) and spring grazing is a lot harder to sync these two up because weather can keep things dynamic. Grass growth is fastest in the spring due to more rains and milder temperatures before the heat of summer kicks in, so instead of a 6 week rest period for the pasture between grazing it can be much a shorter period. Improper grazing practices right off the bat (such as the ground being too wet and the cows causing soil compaction or grazing too soon and damaging grass before it can establish itself for the summer) can impact your entire grazing season.

We have our first batch of broiler chicks coming in this week. This year we’ll be doing over 5,400 pastured chickens in 6 batches and typically takes 11 weeks to raise a fully mature bird.

 If you haven’t tried our new Tallow Candles you can find them HERE on our store. They make a great chemical free, natural alternative and currently are offered in a lemon scent! We’ve enjoyed being able to use our beef resources fully and eliminating waste.

We were accepted into the new Green City Market outside Wrigley Field! This market will run from 4pm-8pm on Thursdays starting June 15th. We’ll keep you updated on the rest of our summer market lineup as it solidifies. Looking forward to kicking off market season soon!