RicelandMeadows


Winter Hay Feeder

hayfeed

December 5, 2017

We have been trialing the newly built hay feeder. The cows like it well. We had to turn one gate around on the feedlot for animal movement, but the feeder is working out very well. The cattle stick their heads through to eat. They eat at different times, but even when most of the herd east together, even the most timid animal can get a spot at the table.

They do eat some from the ends where the green gates are located, but mostly just clean up what ever has spilled out. There has been very little waste feeding the cattle this way. I can click the “success” button on this project! The feeder is easy to fill using the skid steer. The animals use it very well. The percentage of wasted hay is minimal. Lastly, I only have to move hay once a week or less, so it is a great time saver too!

This feeder is permanent, but building one on skids would be a great option for many small farmers. You provide some protection for the hay, as well as, the animals. This could even provide shade from the hot summer sun, while feeding hay when pastures are declining. I recommend trying one on your small holdings in some form or another. The benefits far out weigh the costs.



Stockpiled Pasture a Beautiful Thing

stockpiled

November 28, 2017

One of the geldings munching on stockpiled pasture. They are still grazing as November comes to a close. Let’s face it, making a small farm profitable is not always easy. Keeping horses can be a drain on a man’s wallet. Using grass and working with Mother Nature is a wonderful, profitable option that often gets overlooked.

We made hay while the sun shined this past summer. We mowed the pastures as the animals grazed them down. The mowing keeps weeds in check and encourages growth in the grasses and clover. The paddock in the picture was allowed to grow after the last mowing in late August. The cattle grazed it once in mid-September for about 36 hours. Yesterday, the horses were turned in to this pasture to graze until the autumn rains or snow make the soil soft.

Most of the regrowth that the horses are eating is endophyte free fescue. This warm season grass gets more palatable and sweet after it has been frosted. The cold nights in the past few weeks ended our growing season, but made this magic grass sweet and much more to the horse’s liking. I will be able to graze this for about two weeks. So, that is feed for four draft horses for fourteen days! No fuel to harvest it. No time invested to harvest it and the horses are spreading their own manure!

I have one more paddock of stockpiled grass. It is a stand with lots of trefoil in it. The sheep will spend the winter there. They will graze much of the winter as long as the snow doesn’t get too deep. Again, no fuel to harvest the hay for the sheep. They can eat at their own pace, spreading their droppings as they go. I will have to feed a little hay I am sure, but our flock of ten ewes should have eighty to ninety days of grazing in that paddock. I will pull the sheep off in late February or early March, but the worst part of winter should be over by then…and the sheep will have pretty much fed themselves all winter!

I encourage the small farmer to look for opportunities such as this to increase profits or at least increase efficiencies in your daily labor. Think outside the box and … stockpile a few ideas of your own!



Hay, It’s a Buffet
February 24, 2015, 9:48 pm
Filed under: February 2015 | Tags: , , ,
It just tastes better

It just tastes better

February 24, 2015

Every day I bring the cows up to the feedlot to look them over and make sure that all is well. I have created extra work for myself. The cows now stand at the gate, demanding that I come get them. I give them a small splash of grain and a bale of the same hay that they have out back at the cow stable. They eat the grain, then devour the hay.

They make a big deal of pushing and shoving acting like it is the best hay they ever ate. I think it is just because I bring it to them. It’s like a cup of tea. One made and drank tastes good, but one made for you and brought to you while you sit on your butt in your favorite chair….Now, that tastes awesome!  I sometimes think I could stand and bawl for that too, for you see…. It is a moo..ving experience!