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hay wasting?

 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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I saw somewhere an idea for rebuilding the stocks (?) for cattle to put their heads through to eat hay out of the trough. Right now, they are as built from 50 or more years ago in an HHH shape, with a rectangular hole for the cows to put their heads through. Problem is, they end up pulling huge lots out and wasting it on the ground.

This rebuild that I saw was to remake them into a VVV shape so the hole the cows put their heads through is a V so there is less room at the bottom and supposedly they pull out less hay to waste.

Does this make sense? Anybody have any experience with this or an alternative design idea?

Thanks ahead of time!

Matthew
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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Here is an idea I found.
Rubber sides


Here's another one with a similar shape to what I saw before



Thoughts? experiences?

Thanks


 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 699
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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i have always though the bars were supposed to go like this: \ \ \ \ or / / / /
the idea is the cows have to turn their heads to get into the feeder - seems once their heads are in there - they stick around a while and eat instead of backing away with a mouth full of hay.
my only comparison is to a long skid trough type feeder which wasted a bunch of hay. it didnt have any headgate though...

i originally built a portable feeder out of wood with slanted rails. it worked good for a while but didnt stand up to being with cows
i have recently been using a round bale feeder similar to this:

the skirt around the bottom really helps not waste hay also.

we actually have (2) 1/2 a round bale feeders (plywood backed) instead of 1 full feeder - we are just throwing small bales into the 1/2 moon feeders. the slanted bars work the same.

they also make slanted panels:




 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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Kelly,
I appreciate the response, but I still think there is a more efficient way to do it. It just frustrates me when I look in the barn and the floor level is 10 inches higher than it was a month ago and it looks like all hay. Looks like alot to me. i know I can just scoop it out in the spring and compost it, but I'd rather be more efficient with feeding and let them spread their own fertilizer.

And perhaps it has to do also with just how far the boards are apart. The panel you posted about last looks like the bars may be 10 inches apart. The boards on this headgate in our barn are probably 2 foot apart. i can crawl through them with only mild grunting.
 
Adam Klaus
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gardener
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Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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This is one area where horns are a real asset. The horns make it much more difficult for the cows to pull their heads back out. For this reason, I find that younger animals with undeveloped horns are much more easily able to waste tons of hay.

And you're right Matt, they will waste a TON of hay, given half a chance. It really does add up in terms of cost.

Here is a pic of my cows feeding from a feeder like Kelly uses, which is the best design I have found. Any serious hay feeder has to be welded steel for it to hold up to cattle.

Go horns! God gave 'em to cows for a reason.... Saving hay for the farmer (:
1455937_532298656865268_61474702_n.jpg
[Thumbnail for 1455937_532298656865268_61474702_n.jpg]
hay feeder, cows with horns
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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eh, my cows dont have any horns except my little milker who is only 8 mos old or so. Supposedly bred out of them or something like that. never dehorned and never grew any.

Our first cow had horns and we dehorned him (never again) and they grew back anyway.
 
Cole Hammonds
Posts: 3
Location: Virgina
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Hey Matt, are you dairying or are these beef cattle? Round or square bails? Tractor or no tractor? Field or barn fed? Here is my philosophy on hay, take what fits you.. first and foremost avoid feeding it at all, except in deep snow/emergency's. In general hay costs are the biggest cost to livestock producers and year-round grazing is quite possible in your neck of the woods. I realize that you probably have a limited land base as most of us do but I promise leasing some more pasture will be cheaper than buying hay. Second, what is this wasted hay? I bet its dried grass that has been stomped, dunged and pissed on to the point where its unpalatable to your livestock but remember that you are also a grass and soil life farmer. Wasted hay = the cheapest fertilizer you can buy. When I do feed hay it is done on the poorest areas of the farms and is viewed as feed for a stock and soil. Also, unless you buying very high quality hay, which is nonexistent in my area, you must be careful of asking the stock to consume all of it especially if it is a growing class of animal, performance will be sacrificed. And no I don't use hay feeders..to expensive, you've got to move them and I really don't think they work.
Keep there heads down
Cole
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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Cole, These are mainly beefers, with one dairy cow in there, but the dairy is still young and unbred. It will probably be 2 years for her before we get milk. These are round bales that we roll into place on a pallet and runroll a bit at a time and put through a hole in the wall into a trough with headgates in the barn. We do have a tractor, but no hayspike. We do avoid feeding - this is only the third roll we've fed as we had grass until december and we still have SOME grass, but its slim pickins. We have 42 acres total plus 10 adjoining and we have around 14 acres fenced off in a rotational grazing attempt. I say wasted hay, since my plan was to have them spread their own manure and take the machine out of it - with them pulling alot out and pooping on it, it does provide good fertilizer, but this means we'll have to go in there by hand (tractor wont fit all the way) and pick it up and then spread it by hand. This is wasted effort. This was horse quality hay, with no weeds and mostly orchard grass. I just feel that a part of the process is breaking down when I see that much hay on the ground. Perhaps it is a given with cows, but I dont think so. I think there is a way that I have yet to learn.

Thanks for the input. Any other thoughts, people?

thanks
 
Cole Hammonds
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Location: Virgina
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Matt glad to hear you've only recently started feeding hay your ahead of most. I've got to say that it sounds like this hay feeding routine you've got requires an incredible amount of daily time and labor. Why not set out a 20 or so bales in the pasture, whatever a week or two or three worth of hay is for you and use your polywire to cut out 2-3 days worth. Search bale grazing Steve Kenyon he has written several articles about it in stockman grass farmer. We have had very good luck with this technique and it significantly reduces time and labor. You decide where the cattle spread it out by where you place the hay and yes there is some "waste". I put a high value on my time as I'm sure you do and I doubt that the hay you are spending time trying to save is of any value when compared to the value your free time.
 
matt sorrells
Posts: 126
Location: Canton, NC
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Cole - well, I dont do that since rain on the hay will ruin it in short order. The hay I have has never been rained on and is still green. I try to keep very high quality hay. It only really takes 5 minutes to peel of some with a pitchfork and chuck it to them, plus you get an upclose look at them once a day to check for injuries and stuff. Some people dont care if rain gets on their cows hay since they'll eat it anyway, but this causes the protein level to drop a good bit plus mold and rot.

Of course its not like they stay far away - our pasture lane runs through our backyard, so whenever they get water they're 80 foot from our bedroom window.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Joel's answer was to sprinkle corn on the floor and let the pigs dig it out in the spring. Great answer, IF you want pigs.

Can your tractor handle a big round bale if you had a spike? If so, spikes are cheap. I would carry it out and fork off the day's ration just like you are doing now but in the field.

I do small squares because my tractor is too small to handle a round bale. It costs me more per ton, doing it myself I am paying nearly as much as buying rounds, but spend a whole lot of sweat equity to do it. I bale hay from the neighbor in areas he can't get his big equipment, my way of importing fertilizer and seed.

I also feed in poor spots. I even fed on my swales when the ground was frozen.
 
Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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fwiw - we take the "stemmy" hay that our dairy cows dont eat and mix it with the manure we get from the winter sacrifice area for composting.
we actually let the chickens do the mixing - i just sprinkle some scratch in/on the piles and they go to town scratching and mixing - there are inevitably seedheads in there as bonuses. our 17 chickens can just about keep up with 3 heifers/cows

not sure if that is an option - its a lot of poo piling thats for sure.

 
Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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i found this while surfing the net:

its called the hayhut - made for horses but i think you could adapt the idea to cows.

it would have to be sturdy and i would make the headgates go this this: / / / /
youd have to figure a good way to load the bales.

maybe something like this:

could you make it skidable?

just throwin out ideas
 
Steve Cyclone
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I saw a video once of a feeder for goats (who like to waste hay) that had them take a step up and then reach down into the feeder. I have no idea if it would work for cows. Anyone ever seen it?
 
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