Shawn Tiffany – Cover Crops and Cattle

(Shawn) Well, I’m Shawn Tiffany and I own and operate Tiffany Cattle Company at Herington, Kansas, with my brother Shane. And we’re primarily a custom feeding facility. And I’m excited to be here at No Till on the Plains, both to learn and as a speaker. And I’m here to speak about integration of cover crops and soil health into a custom cattle feeding operation. We have been using cover crops for about… well since 2010. And it’s been an evolution throughout that time frame from strictly just grazing programs to grazing and forage production. And then recently we’ve also added cover crops to our farming systems, strictly for the role of soil health and soil improvement. There’s multiple layers to that question. From the grazing perspective you know, it’s cost advantageous to the customers. They get good grazing and cheap cost of gains for a portion of the year. For us as a commercial feed yard, it’s a way to manage our inventory of cattle coming into the yard. And we then get the advantage you know, our cost benefit in that is to get to feed the cattle but then we also get the side benefits of erosion control, soil health, feeding the microbes in the soil and all the other advantages that cover crops afford. And then as far as forage production we usually use cover crops in that situation as a secondary crop. Sometimes that crop is growing throughout the winter and we chop it in the Spring, prior to planting of row crops. But whether it comes before or after our main row crop for that year, it’s just another vehicle to produce more forage that can come into the feedlot and be fed to the cattle and provide the added feed stuffs. And then as far as soil health and those systems go, we don’t know yet. This is the first Fall and Winter that I’ve planted cover crops strictly for soil health. But you know, if it follows through like the rest of our cover cropping systems, I fully anticipate it to boost yields in the following cash crops that we’re gonna plant. We don’t have a specific blend that we use year in, year out. I like to try new things. I like to research with cover crops. To date, we’ve never found anything that just didn’t work, but I’m a believer in the blends. If you look in nature out in creation, there’s no such thing as a monocle tree. You don’t see just a forest of just one species of tree or a grassland of one species of grass. There’s always a lot of different species interacting with each other that are mutually beneficial to one another. And I like to try and replicate that in all of our crop rooting systems, not just our cover crops. And we’re even starting to integrate different varieties and you know, minor species into our row crop situations. Well, I’m always available to talk about cover crops. And I’m always excited to talk about cover crops. And my contact information is easily found through either the Grass and Grain or the internet. But, yeah, I enjoy talking about what we’re doing and what our in house research and experimentation is showing. So, I’d be happy to talk to anybody.

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