One of the joys in the life of a farmer is getting a big project completed. My farmer hubby has been dreaming, planning and researching this bunk feeding project for months. While I surfed facebook in the evenings, he was browsing the web looking at other farmers’ ideas and equipment, trying to figure out what he wanted, was economically feasible and would work best for his situation. We have approximated 150 plus brood cows plus young stock. For years we have been using round bales feeders but the cows make a terrible, muddy mess around the feeders in the winter which means there is hay that gets wasted. Gene felt he needed to have a something different before this winter. Finally the pieces began to fall together and this weekend he completed the bunk and it was ready to use.
I climbed up on that ladder and looked inside…..
There were some serious looking blades inside the mixer.
The mixer will grind and hold 2 round bales at a time. It takes about 20 minutes to grind a load and he can grind on the go.
The mixer grinds the round bale into small pieces and mixes it all together; the best with the not so best of the hay.
This keeps the cows from wasting hay-they eat it all and all the cows get to eat the same thing. The more timid cows who stand back and wait will get the same mix of hay as the more aggressive ones. They say you save about 30% doing it this way. Last year he baled 1900 bales and this year he only got 1200. He had to figure out a way to stretch the hay!
You can also mix feed supplements such as Purina Superlix, corn or other commodities such as brewers grain with the hay.
At first the cows paid no attention. They were laying out by the hay rings waiting on their supper!
Suddenly one cow who was off in the woods on the side caught on to what was happening. She came out with her calf and started bawling-alerting her herdmates that food was now on the table!
It wasn’t long until the whole herd was bawling and coming to the bunk.
(We even had a neighbor email and wonder what the ruckus was about with the cows tonight and if everything was ok!)
Gene talking to his cows as they came to the bunk.
The first to the bunk!
It wasn’t long until they were lined up munching away.
My view from the house.
It took 2 batches (4 bales) to fill the 288 foot bunk.
Below is a video of filling the bunks.
A note about the video: First you will see Gene filling the bunk and then you will see a cow from the side figure out supper was being served. She starts bawling and then you can see the other cows start to get restless and start bawling. When Gene calls them they start coming. They know the tractor means feeding time but something different is happening. If you notice they are laying around their empty bale rings waiting for them to be filled.
All fall he has been working hard …..
First there were a few trees to be removed. Our son, Keith, did the tree removal, grading and setting of the bunk.
Gene is removing a fence that was in the way and will be relocated.
Setting the bunks on a good base of ground up asphalt from a highway project.
Graveled the driveway.
The long term goal is to have a roof and a concrete slab but sometimes things have to happen in stages!
280 foot loooooooong! Gene figured he need 2 foot per cow.
Building a fence to keep the cows off the drive through side.
Making an electric cattle guard.
He has an electric cattle guard at each end of the bunk. The wires are maybe 6″ above the ground and he can drive over it.
The cattle won’t cross it as they can smell the electricity. They use this method out west on roads where cattle roam the open plain. Time will tell if this works.
Gene says the cattle will tell him what they like and don’t like, what works and doesn’t work and he will make adjustments.
A farmer knows how to interpret the actions of his cows!
Note: When you do something different there are always things to learn. We are now on day 2 and Gene is very pleased with what he sees happening. The cows are contented, eating off and on all day and not crowding the bunk. The four bales lasted 24 hours. He had been feeding 5-6 bales. We will see how this figures out-whether this trend continues. This evening he added some water and Purina Superlix to the hay as it was mixing. He really liked the results. We will add an update after a few days.