Concrete Feeding Pads

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Anonymous

As is usually the case this time of year, I'm getting sick & tired of going out to feed round bales and having to navigate through an absolute quagmire in an attempt to move my round bale feeders. And I'm sure the cattle suffer from trying to feed in knee deep mud. My place gets a lot of rain in fall & winter and I have what we refer to as "black gumbo" soil in my sacrifice (feeding) pasture.

I'm thinking of building some large circular concrete feeding pads, but I'm concerned about whether or not the cattle standing on such a hard surface for long periods of time will cause foot damage. A local "old-timer" said he thought it could be a problem, but could not really give me any meaningful elaboration on the subject. Does anybody here have an experience with this? Don't dairy cattle spend a good bit of time on concrete? Or maybe they are actually on a hard surface for a fairly brief milking period twice a day?
 
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A

Anonymous

In most dairys the cows are off of the concrete for relatively short periods, some are never off of it. For beef cows, ifyou don't make the areas too large the cows will go somewhere else to ruminate. I've toying with the idea of a long strip of deeding panels similar to a round bale feeder, but straight. Cows on concrete on one side and concrete pad on the other for the hay. If the bales are plsced so that the ends are towards the panel, as the cows eat them down you could push the bales towards the panels. I think if you keep the ends of the bale a foot or foot and a half from touching the panels that they would pull less through and cut down on waste

dun

> As is usually the case this time
> of year, I'm getting sick &
> tired of going out to feed round
> bales and having to navigate
> through an absolute quagmire in an
> attempt to move my round bale
> feeders. And I'm sure the cattle
> suffer from trying to feed in knee
> deep mud. My place gets a lot of
> rain in fall & winter and I
> have what we refer to as
> "black gumbo" soil in my
> sacrifice (feeding) pasture.

> I'm thinking of building some
> large circular concrete feeding
> pads, but I'm concerned about
> whether or not the cattle standing
> on such a hard surface for long
> periods of time will cause foot
> damage. A local
> "old-timer" said he
> thought it could be a problem, but
> could not really give me any
> meaningful elaboration on the
> subject. Does anybody here have an
> experience with this? Don't dairy
> cattle spend a good bit of time on
> concrete? Or maybe they are
> actually on a hard surface for a
> fairly brief milking period twice
> a day?
 
OP
A

Anonymous

I really like Dun’s idea. I’ve kicked around a project where I would build some kind of a lazy V rack down one side of a hay lot, where the V would be leaning inboard – almost like an L. Then you could set rolls up on the rack, about a foot off the ground, where the hay forks would be able to reach high enough. Wouldn’t have to haul it anywhere, just feed from the lot. You would definitely have to put concrete or caliche or something on the pasture side. Or your idea of putting concrete all the way across would save building the racks, just put a pipe fence in where they could get their heads through. You would have to build it to the right dimensions or it would turn into one big creep feeder - ha.

We have one place that used to have some pretty good sized chicken houses on it that had concrete floors. They make a great spot to feed and there’s no doubt we have less waste there. Of course, concrete would be expensive if that was its only purpose. I’ve thought about getting some caliche hauled in and spread. That’s the limestone material used for “dirt” roads around here. It turns water very well and stays firm in wet weather. Would be a lot cheaper/easier/faster to spread an area with that than to form up and lay rebar, etc.

We were blessed to make excellent Klein grass this year. Because we also had a lot of carry-over hay from last year we decided to save the money and not cut this season. We let it go to seed and turned them in on it while it was still green. Haven’t had to feed on that place yet, sure has been nice.

I’ve got a cousin who decided several years ago to cut back on his head count and work it where he never feeds. He cakes them, espically before bad weather, but that’s it and his cows look great. Sometimes I think he’s the smartest one around, especially when I'm freezing my [email protected]#$ off on a tractor.

Of course we hardly ever have enough snow that the cows have to dig through looking for winter grass. And, he doesn’t depend solely on cattle for his living, but I don't either. Then again, every dollar I can get out of it is needed and appreciated.

There’s a thousand ways to skin a cat.

Craig
 
OP
A

Anonymous

> I really like Dun’s idea. I’ve
> kicked around a project where I
> would build some kind of a lazy V
> rack down one side of a hay lot,
> where the V would be leaning
> inboard – almost like an L. Then
> you could set rolls up on the
> rack, about a foot off the ground,
> where the hay forks would be able
> to reach high enough. Wouldn’t
> have to haul it anywhere, just
> feed from the lot. You would
> definitely have to put concrete or
> caliche or something on the
> pasture side. Or your idea of
> putting concrete all the way
> across would save building the
> racks, just put a pipe fence in
> where they could get their heads
> through. You would have to build
> it to the right dimensions or it
> would turn into one big creep
> feeder - ha.

> We have one place that used to
> have some pretty good sized
> chicken houses on it that had
> concrete floors. They make a great
> spot to feed and there’s no doubt
> we have less waste there. Of
> course, concrete would be
> expensive if that was its only
> purpose. I’ve thought about
> getting some caliche hauled in and
> spread. That’s the limestone
> material used for “dirt” roads
> around here. It turns water very
> well and stays firm in wet
> weather. Would be a lot
> cheaper/easier/faster to spread an
> area with that than to form up and
> lay rebar, etc.

> We were blessed to make excellent
> Klein grass this year. Because we
> also had a lot of carry-over hay
> from last year we decided to save
> the money and not cut this season.
> We let it go to seed and turned
> them in on it while it was still
> green. Haven’t had to feed on that
> place yet, sure has been nice.

> I’ve got a cousin who decided
> several years ago to cut back on
> his head count and work it where
> he never feeds. He cakes them,
> espically before bad weather, but
> that’s it and his cows look great.
> Sometimes I think he’s the
> smartest one around, especially
> when I'm freezing my [email protected]#$ off on a
> tractor.

> Of course we hardly ever have
> enough snow that the cows have to
> dig through looking for winter
> grass. And, he doesn’t depend
> solely on cattle for his living,
> but I don't either. Then again,
> every dollar I can get out of it
> is needed and appreciated.

> There’s a thousand ways to skin a
> cat.

> Craig

Craig, I may be the only one wondering,but what do you mean by cakes them before bad weather? Thanks

[email protected]
 
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A

Anonymous

We supplement with cottonseed cake. It might not be available in all parts of the country - I don't know. It’s like range cubes, except the pellets are usually rounded instead of squared. The protein content is a lot higher – some studies suggest too high, but that doesn’t make sense to me. The cost per pound of protein is usually more competitive (around here anyway) and we’re not feeding it, just using it for supplement. Besides salt and minerals that’s all they get outside of grass and hay.

We always give them extra rations if nasty weather is predicted, just to put a little fire in their bellies.

Craig
 
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A

Anonymous

If you dig holes for the posts to support the divider between the cows and hay, grinf the caliche as fine as you can and use it like cement around the posts, they'll never move. Using it for the cows side, if you get it really wet and can roll it it will last as long as concrete. We don't have any around here, but in the deserty we used it instead of concrete for nearly everything. It had a lot of tufa mixed in so it had a high lime content.

dun

> I really like Dun’s idea. I’ve
> kicked around a project where I
> would build some kind of a lazy V
> rack down one side of a hay lot,
> where the V would be leaning
> inboard – almost like an L. Then
> you could set rolls up on the
> rack, about a foot off the ground,
> where the hay forks would be able
> to reach high enough. Wouldn’t
> have to haul it anywhere, just
> feed from the lot. You would
> definitely have to put concrete or
> caliche or something on the
> pasture side. Or your idea of
> putting concrete all the way
> across would save building the
> racks, just put a pipe fence in
> where they could get their heads
> through. You would have to build
> it to the right dimensions or it
> would turn into one big creep
> feeder - ha.

> We have one place that used to
> have some pretty good sized
> chicken houses on it that had
> concrete floors. They make a great
> spot to feed and there’s no doubt
> we have less waste there. Of
> course, concrete would be
> expensive if that was its only
> purpose. I’ve thought about
> getting some caliche hauled in and
> spread. That’s the limestone
> material used for “dirt” roads
> around here. It turns water very
> well and stays firm in wet
> weather. Would be a lot
> cheaper/easier/faster to spread an
> area with that than to form up and
> lay rebar, etc.

> We were blessed to make excellent
> Klein grass this year. Because we
> also had a lot of carry-over hay
> from last year we decided to save
> the money and not cut this season.
> We let it go to seed and turned
> them in on it while it was still
> green. Haven’t had to feed on that
> place yet, sure has been nice.

> I’ve got a cousin who decided
> several years ago to cut back on
> his head count and work it where
> he never feeds. He cakes them,
> espically before bad weather, but
> that’s it and his cows look great.
> Sometimes I think he’s the
> smartest one around, especially
> when I'm freezing my [email protected]#$ off on a
> tractor.

> Of course we hardly ever have
> enough snow that the cows have to
> dig through looking for winter
> grass. And, he doesn’t depend
> solely on cattle for his living,
> but I don't either. Then again,
> every dollar I can get out of it
> is needed and appreciated.

> There’s a thousand ways to skin a
> cat.

> Craig
 
OP
A

Anonymous

> I’ve got a cousin who decided
> several years ago to cut back on
> his head count and work it where
> he never feeds. He cakes them,
> espically before bad weather, but
> that’s it and his cows look great.
> Sometimes I think he’s the
> smartest one around, especially
> when I'm freezing my [email protected]#$ off on a
> tractor.

> Craig

craig,

i have thought of doing the same thing your cousin is doing... can you tell me how much he cut back to accomplish this? i have been wondering if i could do this by cutting back by 1/3, but i dont know.

thanks

gene

[email protected]
 
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A

Anonymous

He’s not in the best of health and I’m sure that played into his decision. If memory serves, he cut back by at least 50%. It should be said that he was not overgrazing to begin with. On the other hand, he could run more now and probably get away with what he’s doing.

One of the main things to consider is how many months out of the year you’re feeding now.

Another big part of the equation would be whether you’re raising your own hay or buying some/all of it. In our case, we could have come out a little better if we’d turned them in sooner so they could graze it before it had a chance to head out and go to seed. We kicked the idea around long enough that the heads started forming and by then we figured we would wait for the seed to drop and improve the stand.

You wouldn’t loose your whole crop because it will keep growing strong if they keep it from heading out – assuming adequate rain. But, you wouldn’t go into winter with fresh hay. Then again you wouldn’t want so much grazing burden on it that they got ahead of it. I wonder if there have been any studies done.

It would be interesting to get some other opinions from some of the grass experts that post here (hint, hint, Dun et al) because I don’t know what factor should be used to compare hay production/consumption against what the yield would be if cattle were on it starting in early summer.

Another thing to consider would be the money saved by not baling against the income lost from the extra calves. Or, if you’re buying hay, you would have to make a similar calculation. Of course you would still have to fertilize any improved pasture.

This would also re-open the question of a calving season and whether spring or fall would be best.

And, another thing to consider is the saved time spent feeding. I never know how to price that. It’s depressing if you ever put the pencil to it and figure your hourly income – ha. Of course you will still have to check them and cake them, but just feeding is a lot of time spent and it is in the most miserable part of the year. It’s worth something.

Sorry about the rambling response, I’m just “thinking out loud” and it’s worth exactly what you’re paying for it. Maybe you could get away with a 1/3 reduction. It’s an interesting mental exercise to go through.

Craig
 
OP
A

Anonymous

Thanks to all of you for your comments. I put the pencil to the concrete pads idea and didn't much like the result --- concrete, etc. is pretty darn expensive, even more so than I had roughly guessed. Am going to look into perhaps putting up some simple pole barn type structures, but just with roofs and no sides. These could double as equipment or hay storage sheds for about 9 months of the year. I'm a pretty good scavenger and think I can get some used utility poles, tin, etc. fairly cheaply.

Regarding the idea of cutting back on the stocking rates, this seems to be a pretty time tested way to decrease the cost and hassle of winter feeding. One of my neighbors is an 84 year old man and keeps his place deliberately understocked, and has a number of paddocks, so that he rarely has to feed hay. Of course we are near Houston and generally don't get much cold weather, especially in recent years. We haven't even had a killing frost yet --- but our most prevalent grass (bermuda) has essentially shut down growth. Anyway, the old fellow learned long ago that it is better to let his cows harvest the grass directly rather than feeding hay, plus he can't really get around much anyway. He probably hasn't heard the terms "rotational grazing" or "management intensive grazing" but that's what he has actually been doing for years. And he doesn't have to kill significant amounts of time (as I do) going out to feed several times a week. Ahh, the wisdom of years!

The cost of putting up hay (whether you do it yourself or have it done, or simply buy it) is obviously very signficant. I'm constantly reading articles that advocate stockpiling of certain forages (particularly fescue) and letting the cattle eat it during the time when many others are feeding. Plus, deliberatly understocking can pay dividends if you get into unexpected drought situations.

I hunt deer & turkey in the western portion of the Texas hill country and I'm always amazed at how little effort the cattle men in that area apparently have to put in at this time of the year. There seems to be very little feeding of hay and instead the cattle eat stockpiled forages and seem to stay in amazingly good shape. Of course the forages in that part of Texas are much "stronger" than those we have along the Gulf Coast. And I've tried planting rye, ryegrass and winter wheat to reduce my need for hay feeding, but with the huge concentrations of geese that winter along the gulf coast it's a no-win situation. Without seeing the "before and after" you can't hardly believe what a flock of 5,000 or 10,000 wild geese can do to a pasture of ryegrass or wheat in a few days!

But I suspect that probably most of us should give more careful consideration to the forage stockpiling idea, and I intend to get more serious about looking into the pros and cons. The cattle business is like most other businesses, in that bigger is not necessarily better. We need to do whatever it takes to improve the bottom line profit rather than focusing too much on the gross revenue amount.
 
OP
A

Anonymous

First of all I'm no expert, the only skills I really have is a good memory, the ability to get cows with calf (via AI) anf the uncanny ability to piss people off. Whrn you run into multple years of drought, by the time you realize how geat the problem is, your aready too far behind the curve to cut down and do much good. Grossly understocking will prevent or at least mitigate some of the problem. If you decide to understock it's a crap shoot as to what level you can do it before it actually becomes an expense. If you have to clip your pastures after the have headed out you have the expense of fuel, time and maintenance to consider. Normally if your grass has headed out, the actual feed value of the leave is diminished, plus cattle aren't real eager grazers of stemmy stuff that doesn't have a payoff (the seed head) to go with it. If you hay it, unless you feed the hay on the pasture it is cut from, you loose soil nutrients that have to be replaced. If fed on the same pasture, and feeding is spread around, most of those nutrients go back to the soil. Te U of MO calculated that ther is somthing like 4-6 bucks worth of fertilizers put on your fields if you buy hay from an outside source. Even the crappiest hay had 2 bycks worth. Not much, but better then a poke in the eye. With the acerage we're acquiring, mostly excellent fescue or orchard grass pastures, we will run stickers on a lot of it and use them to keep the stuff from heading out, whrn there job is done, off they will go and the resulting growth will be stockpiled for winter. That's the plan, the cow herd is the important element, the stockers will be just hired labor that kopefully will also turn a profit. About 25 acres will be planted in WW for fall and early spring grazing. Tere will always be a small potential for hay feeding. Cows don't seem to do that well when they're belly deep in snow. This is the most challenging area we have tried to raise cattle, but with good managment I think it has the highest potential also.

dun

> He’s not in the best of health and
> I’m sure that played into his
> decision. If memory serves, he cut
> back by at least 50%. It should be
> said that he was not overgrazing
> to begin with. On the other hand,
> he could run more now and probably
> get away with what he’s doing.

> One of the main things to consider
> is how many months out of the year
> you’re feeding now.

> Another big part of the equation
> would be whether you’re raising
> your own hay or buying some/all of
> it. In our case, we could have
> come out a little better if we’d
> turned them in sooner so they
> could graze it before it had a
> chance to head out and go to seed.
> We kicked the idea around long
> enough that the heads started
> forming and by then we figured we
> would wait for the seed to drop
> and improve the stand.

> You wouldn’t loose your whole crop
> because it will keep growing
> strong if they keep it from
> heading out – assuming adequate
> rain. But, you wouldn’t go into
> winter with fresh hay. Then again
> you wouldn’t want so much grazing
> burden on it that they got ahead
> of it. I wonder if there have been
> any studies done.

> It would be interesting to get
> some other opinions from some of
> the grass experts that post here
> (hint, hint, Dun et al) because I
> don’t know what factor should be
> used to compare hay
> production/consumption against
> what the yield would be if cattle
> were on it starting in early
> summer.

> Another thing to consider would be
> the money saved by not baling
> against the income lost from the
> extra calves. Or, if you’re buying
> hay, you would have to make a
> similar calculation. Of course you
> would still have to fertilize any
> improved pasture.

> This would also re-open the
> question of a calving season and
> whether spring or fall would be
> best.

> And, another thing to consider is
> the saved time spent feeding. I
> never know how to price that. It’s
> depressing if you ever put the
> pencil to it and figure your
> hourly income – ha. Of course you
> will still have to check them and
> cake them, but just feeding is a
> lot of time spent and it is in the
> most miserable part of the year.
> It’s worth something.

> Sorry about the rambling response,
> I’m just “thinking out loud” and
> it’s worth exactly what you’re
> paying for it. Maybe you could get
> away with a 1/3 reduction. It’s an
> interesting mental exercise to go
> through.

> Craig
 
OP
A

Anonymous

craig, dun,

i appreciate the responses, and i agree, it is tough to know the boundries, and as dun pointed out, i know i certainly do not want to be clipping pastures just because i didnt let a cow eat it, and what was good for this year might not be good next year because of drought, etc. i hadnt thought of stockers, but that might be a good idea because the load on the land changes with the seasons and the stockers could be the mowers (hired out as dun said) to keep the excess grass down.

i guess we each have to decide which direction we want to go in and live and learn, but it sure helps to get ideas from others on these boards.

thanks again,

gene

> First of all I'm no expert, the
> only skills I really have is a
> good memory, the ability to get
> cows with calf (via AI) anf the
> uncanny ability to piss people
> off. Whrn you run into multple
> years of drought, by the time you
> realize how geat the problem is,
> your aready too far behind the
> curve to cut down and do much
> good. Grossly understocking will
> prevent or at least mitigate some
> of the problem. If you decide to
> understock it's a crap shoot as to
> what level you can do it before it
> actually becomes an expense. If
> you have to clip your pastures
> after the have headed out you have
> the expense of fuel, time and
> maintenance to consider. Normally
> if your grass has headed out, the
> actual feed value of the leave is
> diminished, plus cattle aren't
> real eager grazers of stemmy stuff
> that doesn't have a payoff (the
> seed head) to go with it. If you
> hay it, unless you feed the hay on
> the pasture it is cut from, you
> loose soil nutrients that have to
> be replaced. If fed on the same
> pasture, and feeding is spread
> around, most of those nutrients go
> back to the soil. Te U of MO
> calculated that ther is somthing
> like 4-6 bucks worth of
> fertilizers put on your fields if
> you buy hay from an outside
> source. Even the crappiest hay had
> 2 bycks worth. Not much, but
> better then a poke in the eye.
> With the acerage we're acquiring,
> mostly excellent fescue or orchard
> grass pastures, we will run
> stickers on a lot of it and use
> them to keep the stuff from
> heading out, whrn there job is
> done, off they will go and the
> resulting growth will be
> stockpiled for winter. That's the
> plan, the cow herd is the
> important element, the stockers
> will be just hired labor that
> kopefully will also turn a profit.
> About 25 acres will be planted in
> WW for fall and early spring
> grazing. Tere will always be a
> small potential for hay feeding.
> Cows don't seem to do that well
> when they're belly deep in snow.
> This is the most challenging area
> we have tried to raise cattle, but
> with good managment I think it has
> the highest potential also.

> dun

[email protected]
 

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