Wishek producer makes corn bales, hopes to keep cattle fed through winter

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 12:10 PM CDT
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WISHEK, N.D. (KFYR) – Time and time again during this drought, farmers and ranchers have proven they are resilient and resourceful.

They’ve found ways to make the best of things, despite the dry conditions. Producers have gotten creative in how they harvest their crops and keep their livestock fed.

One Wishek producer is hoping some non-traditional bales will help him get through the winter.

“The plant was able to make a cob, but it didn’t get very far,” said Adam Bettenhausen as he walked through what’s left of one of his cornfields near Wishek.

When it comes to corn fields, Bettenhausen says this field was the worst of the worst.

“It never got that far. It just ran out of juice,” he said. “This corn is kind of useless. A lot of corn that we had didn’t even put on cobs.”

All that’s left now is a single strip for crop insurance. The rest has been made into bales.

“We used the normal hay equipment and made it work. It wasn’t a super simple easy process,” Bettenhausen explained. “We had to drive a little bit slower able to pick everything up with the balers.”

Now those bales are wrapped in plastic and tucked between traditional bales. The Bettenhausens will rely on these corn bales to keep their cows fed this winter.

“Hopefully it should make some pretty good feed,” he said.

They decided to try corn bales instead of a traditional sileage pile, because he says they’re not really set up for sileage. Bales fit into their feeding program better.

“We thought if we could make it work where we can pick everything up and get it cut and stored, we wouldn’t have to change anything really, and get it off the field right away,” said Bettenhausen.

He took photos of the process to remember it and to document it as a first on their farm.

“We’ve never done that before.”

He hopes these pictures will serve as nothing more than a memory of how they survived one of the worst droughts in history.

While many producers have had to sell off parts of their cattle herds because of a lack of feed, Bettenhausen says they haven’t had to do that yet.

He says judging by the grass in their pastures, they may have to bring the cattle home, or at least supplement with some bales, two or three months earlier than normal.

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