Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter feeding

Over the past few winters Farmer John has fed the cattle in the barn. We did a lot of work to get the barn ready for cattle since it hadn't been used in years. This included cleaning out a lot of junk, fixing the hay bunks, and building a door. 

Feeding in the barn had advantages - it was close to the house, the hay didn't have to be moved very far, and we had good source of manure to compost. But, it had some major disadvantages - our cattle were destructive to parts of the barn, they figured out ways to get out, and sometimes the calves weren't able to eat. 

This year Farmer John has been feeding them up in one of the pastures. It's more work for him, as you'll see, but better for the cattle. 

First, he takes the four-wheeler down to the barn, and loads up six bales of hay. 

Then, he drives it up the lane behind the house and to the top of hill. This lane can get pretty icy because the sun doesn't get to it. Eventually, depending on the weather, he may not be able to get up the hill. 

Once he's in the pasture he finds a spot to spread the bales. Spreading the bales out makes it easier for the cattle to eat, and the calves can get to some of the hay. At this point the cattle know what's going on and they come running. 

Whoever gets there first gets their choice of the hay. Although, there is quite a pecking order with our herd, and the young ones often get pushed out of the way. 

I really miss hearing cattle eating in the barn, it's one of the most peaceful sounds I know. But, this way of feeding is really better for them. With those big shaggy coats, they don't seem to mind being out in the cold. I'm not sure I can say the same for Farmer John!


  1. What do you get when you cross a nun and a chicken? A pecking order!

    Bless you for this interesting description of your new feeding plan!

  2. I remember Pap doing this too - but he didn't have a 4wheeler. It came up the hill on the tractor. The herd looks great and WOW! What a set of horns we see in the video. Do they grow continuously or do they eventually stop? Will you cut them back? Pap had two cows (ask Teresa about the time we were both stuck in the field by Grandma Grouch and Blondie) that were really mean with their horns! We just LOVE this blog - and you both!

  3. This really looks like a lot of work, particularly as I suppose the cai want to eat every day. I had to sit on the couch and rest a bit before I could post this comment. Once when I was young, I had to feed our dog. She really liked Boston Cream Pie and wanted me to feed her every day. But I didn't.


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