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5 Things I can't do without: Marylou Graf, forage quality

PD Staff Published on 10 October 2013

5things

Before the cows can be raised and the crops harvested, a dairy must have a name.

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After submitting four different dairy names that were already taken, Marylou Graf found her inspiration from a box of pre-packaged Kellogg’s Rice Krispies treats on the counter.

Graf jokingly suggested to her late husband “Crispy Cream Dairy.” To her surprise, her husband loved the idea.

Since 2008, Crispy Cream Dairy has been located on Crispy Road in Hokah, Minnesota. Graf explains who and what keeps her forage at an average relative forage quality of 180.

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1. Bag Armour covers

“We have a lot of hail issues here in Minnesota, but since using the covers, we haven’t had any issues with forage bags being punctured by hail balls like we had before,” Graf says.

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Graf has used silage bags since 1996, but Bag Armour covers became a necessity four years ago when the bags holding the forage were completely ruined due to hail, allowing air to enter into the forage.

“Enough was enough,” Graf says. “We weren’t going to have any more forage ruined because of hail.”

2. Pro-Store WS forage inoculants

Forage faces the risk of losing dry matter and quality because of various spoilage micro-organisms (bacteria, yeasts and molds.) “We are big on inoculants,” Graf says. “Inoculants ferment the feed and helps through the heat process so the feed quality isn’t destroyed.”

Inoculants are silage additives containing lactic-acid bacteria that speed up the growth of lactic acid on the forage. Her inoculants prevent micro-organisms from growing by maintaining the forage at a low pH during fermentation.

3. New Holland 900 chopper

To ensure forage is chopped and bagged properly, Michael Graf relies on a New Holland 900 chopper-corn processor. The family has used this model for as long as Marylou can remember. Michael always makes certain the knives stay sharp to reach the highest yield of forage chopped and stored in bags.

4. Rodent control

Like many other dairy farmers, Graf deals with a number of rodents sneaking into her forage and decreasing its quality. Her biggest pest: rats. Graf hired a local exterminator to help with rodent control on a monthly basis.

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The service was quite successful. Graf says it has been some time since she’s had any issues with rats chewing holes through her bags and ruining the forage.

5. Sons, Michael and Andy

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Even though her son Michael is a recent college graduate with a full-time position as a mechanical engineer, he still finds the time to make huge contributions to the family dairy.

Since his father’s passing five years ago, Michael does all of the chopping and monitoring of relative forage quality.

His younger brother, Andy, also helps with cutting forages. PD

PHOTO 1:Dairywoman Marylou Graf dairies in Hokah, Minnesota.

PHOTO 2:Marylou’s son Michael. Photos courtesy of Benjamin Strong.

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