ROLETTE, N.D. – The past couple weeks has been a flurry of activity at the McCumber Angus Ranch near Rolette, as they attended to the last-minute-details for their production sale that will be held on March 27 at the ranch.
“The catalogs are finally showing up in mailboxes and the videos are on the Superior Livestock website, so it (production sale) is coming together,” Matt Tastad said. “We also have moved a bunch of snow out of the pens we display the cattle in so they have a chance to maybe dry a little bit, if we get some nice weather.”
The entire family becomes involved with the sales preparation, Matt noted. The kids started cleaning in the sales barn building over the weekend (March 16-17) and they discovered the water line in the building was froze up.
“We have restrooms and a water heater in the barn and we thankfully got the water thawed without ripping up a bunch of floor, so we again have running water in there,” he said.
Even though the sale is on everyone’s mind right now, there will soon be a shift in focus to spring grazing and planting, and Matt shared information on that part of the operation. Practically all of their land is used for feed production in one way or another.
“The soil here is pretty sandy – it’s not really rocky, but it is light,” he noted. “We have a really high-water table so even though the ground is sandy, crops such as alfalfa, that have a really deep root system, do well for us. So, a lot of our hay production is alfalfa – we don’t have a lot of hay meadows with upland grass hay.”
McCumber Angus also uses a lot of cover crops. They seed a six-way cocktail mix in the spring and then green-chop the resulting growth in July. Following that, they spread the manure from the feedlot on those acres and the regrowth will be grazed by the cow herd in the fall.
The next year they go with corn on those acres and because of the manure application the previous year, they are able to limit their use of commercial fertilizer. The corn they plant is a silage variety and the production is used for corn silage.
“A silage variety has a lower lignin content and is more digestible and the plants get extremely tall and there is a big difference in the tonnage between a silage variety and a regular corn grain variety,” he explained. “It is amazing how many more tons you can produce on the same amount of land.”
Weed control for the corn is pretty simple. Since they operate a no-till operation, they use a Roundup preplant burndown of the weeds that have started in the field and this is followed later with another application of Roundup and broadleaf herbicide tank mix. However, he must be careful when selecting a tank mix chemical, since some of the cover crop species, such as radishes and turnips, are very sensitive to certain herbicide carryover.
As far as summer grazing is concerned – they do have some native pasture that is grazed and they have also seeded some of their farmland to grass for the cattle to graze.
“We seeded a quarter of land to big bluestem, which is a native warm-season grass,” Matt said. “It is a wonderful grass. The cattle love it and it is highly palatable.
“The only problem was the Kentucky bluegrass was trying to take it over, so we had to graze it early so the cattle could take out the Kentucky bluegrass and allow the big bluestem to grow.”
A high percentage of the land they graze has been cross-fenced, which allows them to do some rotational grazing of the herd. But all of that comes later – right now the focus is on the upcoming production sale and we will have the results from that sale in our next visit with he folks at McCumber Angus.