Feeding hay

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herofan

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This is an interesting thread about how it’s done differently. My grandfather used to feed the small square bales. He fed inside the barn. I never heard the terms flakes or fleets in reference to hay.

I put out round bales in rings, or rolls as we call them.
 

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uplandnut

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Old manure spreader with the chain on the floor, take the beater off the back. You'll be able to cut the strings once it is in the spreader and use the pto on the tractor to push it out.
 
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Dave

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I have owned several of those old manure spreaders. Those floor chains have been known to break. Besides that any of them that are in reasonable condition cost a lot more than my plan will cost. Another thing is there are no manure spreaders of any kind in this country. They are scarce as hens teeth.
 

RDFF

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Yeah, the floor chains break, but only if they're worn out. The weight and strain of a bale is WAY less than a load of manure would be. Find an old JD Hydra-spread, no chain. Of course, you can't pull one of those with a 4 wheeler or SxS. A small old ground drive spreader you could though.
 

Hippie Rancher

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for even less than 5 or 600 bucks why don't you slap up some reinforced plywood wind breaks on your flatbed? maybe mount some kind of comfy seat (with a safety belt for the bumps) so you can relax while you kick off individual FLAKES.🤣
 
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Dave

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Yeah, the floor chains break, but only if they're worn out. The weight and strain of a bale is WAY less than a load of manure would be. Find an old JD Hydra-spread, no chain. Of course, you can't pull one of those with a $100 wheeler or SxS. A small old ground drive spreader you could though.
There are literally no spreaders around here. I can't think of a single ranch that has a manure spreader of any type. I would have to haul a trailer over to the coast to pick one up. That is $200 in fuel. All the backyarders over there want a spreader. They start at $2000 for 50 year old worn out machine. It rains a lot over there. They sit out in the rain and rust. The idea might work well where you are but it wont pencil out here.

A pickup box trailer from a full size pickup cost $200. An ATV winch is less than $100. Some steel, pullies, some wiring, and a little welding wont cost $300. I can't even start to buy a manure spreader for that.

By the way where do you find a $100 wheeler? My quad became toast a few weeks ago. There are just no used quads for sale. I found 3 used Honda Ranchers for sale. Two 2001 models and a 2003. They were priced at $3,800, $5,000, and $5,000. I am still searching.
 
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Dave

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for even less than 5 or 600 bucks why don't you slap up some reinforced plywood wind breaks on your flatbed? maybe mount some kind of comfy seat (with a safety belt for the bumps) so you can relax while you kick off individual FLAKES.🤣
Wind breaks and a seat? Obviously you have never fed big squares off a flat bed. I told my wife your comment and she laughed. She has been the person on the back feeding lots of hay back in her former life. So I will explain it so that you and others understand the process. Right now I am feeding 82 cows. They get 2 bales which weigh about 1,200 pounds each. The flatbed is an F350 with an 8 by (?) 7 1/2 foot bed. The bales 3x4x8 are places on edge length wise on the sides of the flatbed, loaded from the side. This leaves enough room for me to fit in the middle between the bales. The flakes are about 6 inches thick so there is 16 flakes per bale. Each flake weighs about 75 pounds. They don't exactly fall apart. I cut the twine before getting on the truck. They don't fall off on their own. Even that second bale to be fed just sits there as we bounce along the field. I have to push them off. The first 4 flakes (maybe 5) are fairly easy. Just push them to the rear and they fall. Once there is more flake on the truck than in the air they tend to stay. Kicking a 75 pound flat flake doesn't work very well. I start near the rear of the truck and work my way toward the cab on each bale. So for the next 11 or 12 flakes have to go off the side. I break it loose on the top, as it starts to move I have to push it off the edge. The flake generally hits some on the edge of the truck, topples 3 feet to the ground. But remains intact when it hits the ground. 82 cows leave a fair amount of cow manure in the field. At 22 degrees this morning every one of those cow pies is frozen stiff. It feels like the truck hit a rock every time we drive over one. Standing on the back of a stiff springed F-350 it is a bouncy ride when driving over frozen cow pies.
 

Allenw

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Winch cable fastened to the front of the drag ( truck end), up to the winch, six or eight wraps around the winch drum, continue on to the back of the trailer, around a roller at the back of the trailer, then forward to hook onto the other (back) side of the drag. You would need to have the rear roller adjustable in order to keep the cable tight.

I admit I had to think a bit when I read your reply about using the winch to move the drag both ways. It took a bit to wrap my head around it.

I've wondered about the feasibility of adding drag chains like those used on a bale elevator to help move the bale.
 

Hippie Rancher

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I have been the "flaker" on the back of a truck many, many times, but I have ever only owned maybe 3 of those big bales in my life (and they were alfalfa that flakes off pretty good) and your photo was of only one on the truck. (also I was joking, but thinking of some way to block the wind because I am all about being more comfortable while I work. hence why I don't live where it gets very cold 😉 )
 
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Dave

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I have been the "flaker" on the back of a truck many, many times, but I have ever only owned maybe 3 of those big bales in my life (and they were alfalfa that flakes off pretty good) and your photo was of only one on the truck. (also I was joking, but thinking of some way to block the wind because I am all about being more comfortable while I work. hence why I don't live where it gets very cold 😉 )
Cold you just dress for. I handle cold much better than hot. The wind doesn't blow too much here but a little breeze is more noticeable when the temperature is below 20.
 

RDFF

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There are literally no spreaders around here. I can't think of a single ranch that has a manure spreader of any type. I would have to haul a trailer over to the coast to pick one up. That is $200 in fuel. All the backyarders over there want a spreader. They start at $2000 for 50 year old worn out machine. It rains a lot over there. They sit out in the rain and rust. The idea might work well where you are but it wont pencil out here.

A pickup box trailer from a full size pickup cost $200. An ATV winch is less than $100. Some steel, pullies, some wiring, and a little welding wont cost $300. I can't even start to buy a manure spreader for that.

By the way where do you find a $100 wheeler? My quad became toast a few weeks ago. There are just no used quads for sale. I found 3 used Honda Ranchers for sale. Two 2001 models and a 2003. They were priced at $3,800, $5,000, and $5,000. I am still searching.
I hear ya on the cost of wheelers and SxS's. I was wanting to get into a SxS with a cab and heater for winter chores. I got this this fall instead.... for about 10% of what a Polaris 1000cc runs, and about half of what you quote for those Ranchers! LOVE it! It actually weighs LESS than the Polaris too! Finding these in good shape yet is hard to do too though.
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Dave

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I hear ya on the cost of wheelers and SxS's. I was wanting to get into a SxS with a cab and heater for winter chores. I got this this fall instead.... for about 10% of what a Polaris 1000cc runs, and about half of what you quote for those Ranchers! LOVE it! It actually weighs LESS than the Polaris too! Finding these in good shape yet is hard to do too though.
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I don't need or want a SxS or a little car. And actually the quad sits in the shed this time of the year. But come irrigation time I need a quad everyday. Flood irrigation in hay fields. I need light, maneuverable, that leave a small foot print. When 20 year old quads cost $5000 and a new one $7000....... I hate spend $7000 but it beats $5000 for a 20 year old one.
 
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Dave

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True. Feeding in the winter is without a doubt the most expensive portion of the annual per cow cost. I didn't look to see where the people who wrote that are from. It is a big country with huge differences from one end to the other. But here the average temperature during the winter is well below freezing. That no winter feed option was tried back in the 1800's. Some winters they got away with it. But other winters the draws were stacked full of dead cows. The article says something about storm feeding for a couple weeks. The winter of 2016-17 the temperature dropped below zero the first of December and it started to snow. The middle of April a lot of ranches still had 2 feet of snow on the hay fields. Feeding hay is not cheap. But in this area not feeding is a lot more costly.
Grass hay this year is $90 a ton, alfalfa is $140. I feed 25 pounds a day per cow. I didn't start feeding hay until December 11 and I didn't go to full feed until January 13. Spring? It can be the first week of April or not until May. If I feed for 150 days (it will be less than that this winter) I will feed 3,750 pounds of hay per cow. That works out to $168.75 worth of hay per head. Part of the cost of doing business.
 

1982vett

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Don’t want to start a new thread and this relates to feeding hay in a way. I’ve got a question for the “snow country” folks.

I went into the Fall with a lot of droughty grass. I had sold a lot of cows last February that didn’t get replaced and didn’t cut it for hay as my barn# were basically full. Suppose it could have been considered stockpiled grass. Had an early frost around the end of October and the cows “got hungry”. Didn’t seem to want to eat the frosted off grass and cleaned up the crap hay I set out to gauge their thoughts.

so 2 weeks ago we get 6 inches of snow. It does that a couple times a decade around here, but normally 2-3 inches and is gone in 24 hours. Well this hung around a almost 3 days. I kept them well fed and they were plowing through the hay. When the sun pops back out and the snow is gone they are out grazing. On what I’m not sure. We had started to get some rain several weeks before and winter grasses were starting to wake up but not so much as to say they had something to go after. To me it appeared they were going after the dry grass. Hay consumption has dropped off quite a bit.... not that I’m complaining. My question is, does snow help the palatability of frosted off grass? Or maybe I just finally filled em up keeping hay in front during the snow. Any thoughts?
 

Rydero

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Don’t want to start a new thread and this relates to feeding hay in a way. I’ve got a question for the “snow country” folks.

I went into the Fall with a lot of droughty grass. I had sold a lot of cows last February that didn’t get replaced and didn’t cut it for hay as my barn# were basically full. Suppose it could have been considered stockpiled grass. Had an early frost around the end of October and the cows “got hungry”. Didn’t seem to want to eat the frosted off grass and cleaned up the crap hay I set out to gauge their thoughts.

so 2 weeks ago we get 6 inches of snow. It does that a couple times a decade around here, but normally 2-3 inches and is gone in 24 hours. Well this hung around a almost 3 days. I kept them well fed and they were plowing through the hay. When the sun pops back out and the snow is gone they are out grazing. On what I’m not sure. We had started to get some rain several weeks before and winter grasses were starting to wake up but not so much as to say they had something to go after. To me it appeared they were going after the dry grass. Hay consumption has dropped off quite a bit.... not that I’m complaining. My question is, does snow help the palatability of frosted off grass? Or maybe I just finally filled em up keeping hay in front during the snow. Any thoughts?
I had a somewhat similar situation this fall. I had a pasture that was really only grazed one time this summer in July. After it was grazed the palatable grass stayed grazed off by grasshoppers for the rest of the summer and fall. The native/swamp grass wasn't affected. I moved the cattle onto the pasture in September and they were convinced they were hungry in 2 days. I bounced them to another better pasture after 4 days, then to a cover crop mix till the calves were weaned/sold. Back to the swamp grass - I fed half the hay they normally require. Plugged the hay into my ration software as tested and put the balance of the ration in as straw (should be lower than that standing grass I reasoned). Had to adjust what type of hay I fed so they got enough energy and I was good. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw them out grazing grass they thought they were starving on a month before and not complaining. Lasted almost 2 months like that and they grazed that crappy grass better than I've ever seen.

Cattle adjust to the nutrition that's available. In my experience they refuse feed/complain when they think there's something better out there. They wouldn't eat the swamp grass the first time because they thought there was something better out there (and they were right). Second time around they needed less nutrition because the calves were gone and that same grass was the best feed available. Maybe the freeze thaw helped break the grass down a little or maybe they've just accepted that it's winter and they're happy to see standing grass again. I'd just make sure the hay works for the protein and energy they need and make em pick.
 
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Dave

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My cows are on irrigated hay fields. The regrowth since about the first of August. I started feeding hay at about half rations starting in December. Bumped it to full rations 10 days ago. It has snowed 6-8 times. Just an inch or two that was gone pretty quick. I can't think of a day in the last 2 1/2 months that it wasn't below freezing at sun rise. Pretty much a high of 40 and a low of 20. Never below 15 or above 44.
By the book these cows need 22.3 pounds of DM a day, they are being fed 25 pounds. They are above book levels on both protein and TDN. They get fed first thing in the morning. By evening they are spread out over the field, in the ditches, and long the river bank picking at what ever they can find. I think that freeze/thaw softens up that old dry grass making it easier for them to bite off and chew.
 

1982vett

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Most years I have winter grass pastures to rotate through and use hay to fill them up and stretch the pasture but this year the grass was dormant when frost hit it and winter grasses never got started. Quit raining in September and winter pastures didn’t come on till now. I noticed cow patties starting to stack up so I put out some range meal and fed better hay. Looks like it worked. Today its 60f and cloudy. 50% chance of .05” of rain. 🤔. Half a roll of yesterday’s hay left in the ring and most of the cows laying around chewing their cud. They seem content except for the 10 heifers I weaned this week. They are still bellyaching as best they can...lol.
 

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