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Help! Heifers in the Hay!  RSS feed

 
Posts: 103
Location: Zone 3-4 (usually 4) Western South Dakota, central Black Hills
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My heifers (except the white one) seem to think the hay in the middle is better than that around the edges (where they can reach it easily). I’ve been chasing them out like every five minutes. So far no cow poop in there. I know this because I climb in there to push the hay from the middle to where they can get it. Honestly, when I pull out a new layer from the bale, it smells so intoxicating I almost think *I* could eat it. I get it, but I’d sure like some ideas as to how I might persuade them to stay outside the feeder.

DCCA57EE-B749-49D7-BCEA-EF2C69044939.jpeg
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Brynn in the dinner plate
 
pollinator
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Cindy Skillman wrote:My heifers (except the white one) seem to think the hay in the middle is better than that around the edges (where they can reach it easily). I’ve been chasing them out like every five minutes. So far no cow poop in there. I know this because I climb in there to push the hay from the middle to where they can get it. Honestly, when I pull out a new layer from the bale, it smells so intoxicating I almost think *I* could eat it. I get it, but I’d sure like some ideas as to how I might persuade them to stay outside the feeder.




Either barb wire around the top or an electric fence should do the trick, or a feeder that is taller.

 
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Barbed wire is an extremely poor idea.

~~I have raised cattle for 40 years. Never had a problem, ..until I did. A couple winters ago ice built up around the feeder. One afternoon one of the steers slipped on the ice and fell, with his neck trapped between the uprights, just like you have. He couldn't get any traction on the ice and couldn't stand up. He choked to death before I even knew what had happened. So, my advice to you is never feed in anything the animals could get their heads trapped in. -Barbed wire will make an excellent trap.

With the snow as deep as it looks like you have, what I'd do is throw widely separated sections of hay across the pasture, with no pile big enough to make a "bed" for them to lay on. Or feed the cattle in the barn where you don't have the potential for ice build-up. Or, put blocks under your feeder to raise it so it is no longer so easy to step into. Then lower it again in the Spring when the snow melts.


 
Cindy Skillman
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Thanks, guys! I did think about putting the feeder up on blocks, but I wonder whether they might not push it off? The snow is pretty deep, but it’s fluffy. They’re mostly standing on the ground. DH is worried about putting a round bale in the cow shed (not really a barn) because our center bay is only 10 feet. I think it could work... it would be tight, though. They’re 700 -750lb bales, but still bulky. The main thing would be getting it far enough in that the cows could still get out, I think. Here’s a better photo of their accommodations.

137DAFDD-06B7-41C4-BBD1-6990422895D3.jpeg
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Cindy Skillman
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I may try the electric fence... they’re definitely leery of that. I wonder how I would set it up. I guess I’d have to move the feeder over next to the e-fence strand we have set up now, because otherwise where would I be able to safely set up the energizer? That way I wouldn’t have to buy a second one right away, either, which would be nice. I can’t get t-posts into the ground because it’s seriously frozen, but maybe I could figure out some way to clamp them to the body of the feeder. Then I guess I could put the electric equine rope up high enough for them to get their heads under to eat. They do that... eat grass under the rope. Does that sound feasible? (Assuming I can get the feeder free of the ground so I can move it LOL)
 
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Funny as it sounds loose the hay feeder.

Just throw that bale out in the pasture. I Get little to no waste doing this provided that the ground is frozen. Areas around feeders get heavily soiled then the cows wont eat what they drop on the ground and walk on.

By feeding in a new spot everytime you are giving them a clean plate and they will lick it clean.
This also spreads manure and seeds from the hay in your pasture.

I throw some straw down with the bale for microbe food. I want to tie up the nitrogen to prevent leeching. Wood chips would also work.

Those are highland cattle they don't need a barn.

Look up bale grazing.
 
pollinator
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That just looks like a bad design for a hay ring. Get one with a top rail. I've never seen one like that for cows.

Edit. I looked closer, is snow covering a foot of it?
 
Cindy Skillman
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Just throw that bale out in the pasture. I Get little to no waste doing this provided that the ground is frozen. Areas around feeders get heavily soiled then the cows wont eat what they drop on the ground and walk on.



Silly, I realize, but that actually never entered my mind. I assumed they’d really waste a lot that way. We were giving them square bales free on the ground and that didn’t work out very well. That was when we bought the feeder. The round bales are a lot tighter... we’ll give it a try. Nothing ventured... Thanks!

 
Cindy Skillman
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That just looks like a bad design for a hay ring. Get one with a top rail. I've never seen one like that for cows.

Edit. I looked closer, is snow covering a foot of it?



LOL It’s not for cattle; it’s for horses, but the ones for cattle that we could find around here wouldn’t work with horns. You might fudge them with a little innovation but I haven’t tackled welding yet, and neither has DH. The horse feeder seemed like a good idea at the time. And yes, the snow is covering the bottom. It’s deep, but at least it’s dry.
 
master pollinator
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Another vote for lose the feeder.

pssst ... there's a new blue cow bumper sticker available.
 
pollinator
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How about putting something in the middle. That looks like a lovely bed to me, so get something round a barrel for example or something even bigger and put it bang in the middle of that feeder leaving a ring of hay round the edge, then even if they put their feet up in the hay they can't get all the way in and can't toilet there.

As a second question how many highlands do you have and how much hay are they eating? (my curiosity nothing to do with your question)
 
Cindy Skillman
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pssst ... there's a new blue cow bumper sticker available



What’s a “blue cow bumper sticker” all about?
 
Cindy Skillman
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How about putting something in the middle. That looks like a lovely bed to me, so get something round a barrel for example or something even bigger and put it bang in the middle of that feeder leaving a ring of hay round the edge, then even if they put their feet up in the hay they can't get all the way in and can't toilet there.

As a second question how many highlands do you have and how much hay are they eating? (my curiosity nothing to do with your question)



Putting something in the middle is a great idea if we were using square bales. We’re down to the big round bales, though, and they take up most of the feeder. I almost upended the wheelbarrow in there, but I was afraid someone’s horns might get stuck in it and that this might not end well. Besides, digging out the wheelbarrow looked like a miserable and above all, COLD job. LOL

We have three heifers. One is not pregnant. One is (I’m pretty sure) pregnant—that’s her in the feeder (Brynn). The third likely is. She doesn’t look as big as Brynn, but I haven’t seen any of them cycle except Eden (the white one) and I really think I would have, if they did. I’d been giving them three 40lb square bales in mangers in the shed every three days or so. They waste a third at least, but they need bedding anyhow and I don’t much like the wood chips we made- too coarse. Plus the square bales haven’t aged all that well. The girls seemed okay with that amount, mostly, plus the pasture hadn’t been mowed in several weeks before we got them last September and they like to graze that (when it’s not under 2-3’ drifts like now). DH gave them a 750 lb round bale a week ago last Monday and you see what that looks like in the photo. I’d say it’s a little over a third gone. It’s been really cold, though. If we’d been planning to get cows, we could have stockpiled pasture for them and wouldn’t need as much, but our tractor is too small to pull a baler so whatever baled hay we feed, we have to buy.
 
garden master
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Cindy Skillman wrote:What’s a “blue cow bumper sticker” all about?



You've got several blue "I like..." icons. We call them bumper stickers. So...

Mike Barkley wrote:pssst ... there's a new blue cow bumper sticker available.



 
Cindy Skillman
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Just a quick update... since we already have a roundbale in the feeder, we didn’t pull another one out yet. I spent another day chasing cows out of the feeder, and since then I’ve only had to verbally chastise them a couple of times—as opposed to actively running them out—cool! They’re learning, apparently. Anyway, the next bale will be sans feeder. I definitely think it’s gonna be better that way after giving it some study.

A little background: Eden (the white one) was raised in the foyer of the couple from whom I bought the heifers. They found her almost dead in a blizzard and brought her in to nurse her... she lost part of her tail and her ear tips. Point is, she’s almost like a little doggie... stands by the fence looking at the house till I come out and pet her, nuzzles me... She hasn’t gotten into the feeder at all. Oh yes, and the reason the owner was willing to sell her to me was that she wouldn’t stand up for herself so she was being bullied. Brynn is the one standing in the feeder in my earlier pic; she’s the boss cow... not mean like Cait (the smallest one), but definitely the boss. I chased her out but she really didn’t want to go, and when she finally backed out, Eden just lit into her. It was so funny/strange. I think she was mad that Brynn was giving me a hard time. She won’t stand up to Cait being a little $h1t and poking her horns into Eden’s tummy, but she was locking horns with Brynn. It gives me hope that when she does get a baby, she’ll be up to protecting it. She’s such a sweetie... definitely a pet, but knew that was going to happen from the start.
 
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