Test Cattle feeders (hay) Test

Beef Production


Cattle feeders (hay)

Aug 14, 2014 | 06:37 1 I have about 500 cows and I am looking at ways to reduce waste, especially hay waste. Which type of hay feeders would you guys recommend for winter feeding/or do you have any general suggestions on how to reduce waste? Reply With Quote
Aug 14, 2014 | 10:50 2 FarmsteadRealty 12:33pm via Twitter for Android
= universities have done plenty of studies on this cones feeders are best Reply With Quote
Aug 14, 2014 | 12:26 3 Why bother feeding 500 cows in feeders? Why not bale graze them? Reply With Quote
Aug 14, 2014 | 16:28 4 He's trying to reduce waste not increase it Darcy, LOL. Reply With Quote
Aug 14, 2014 | 19:21 5 Wasted energy counts for something to, as you and I both know. lol

And what's waste when it's fertilizing your soil? Anyway, not my problem. I just try to go the opposite direction from steel and junk. Reply With Quote
Aug 14, 2014 | 21:26 6 Some situations bale grazing may be a viable solution, some it may not. I just laugh that even most of us that like to think "outside the box" are just as guilty of jumping from one paradigm to another without really questioning it. Sometimes steel is both justifiable and profitable.

Lots of times bale grazing is justified because you "don't use a tractor to winter feed" - well often people do actually - they just use it in the fall instead of every day in winter. So you still have the ownership costs of a tractor and are just moving the time you use it to another season.

I've seen some bale grazing sites where the wastage would be 25% more than using a decent feeder. Feeders start to pencil at some point - earlier than later if hay is 4-6c/lb instead of 2c/lb.

Funny with the "no such thing as waste" line of thought - where were the guys touting that when the research showing wastage of fines from bale processors came out? I mean if it's all good organic matter and not waste that should apply to all systems shouldn't it?

A system that might interest me if I had 500 cows to feed and wanted to use hay - have a bale unroller (not a processor) lay out how ever many days feed you want at a time and then feed it behind a tumbleweed electric fence system. I think you could really control wastage that way and still have the benefit of limiting daily work through moving one fence on hundreds of cows. Reply With Quote
Aug 15, 2014 | 10:36 7 Thanks guys.

I think that I need to do some more research on my own and figure it out. But I do think that Ill go with feeders. Reply With Quote
Aug 15, 2014 | 13:26 8 We just use plain old round bale feeders, and move them often. They don't seem to waste that much, and they sleep on what they don't eat. That's when they're not grazing corn. Have you ever looked into that? We find it cheaper than hay. Reply With Quote
Aug 15, 2014 | 21:02 9 Some simple numbers. Good quality new ring feeder $700. Use and depreciate to zero after 7 years (reasonable in my experience). Feed 20 cows per feeder for a 150 day winter for 7 years. Total cow feed days per lifetime of the feeder totals 21,000 days. Daily cost of owning the feed ring is 3.3c/lb so to pay for the actual ring you only need to save 1lb/day of hay, less if your hay is worth more.

If we assume the 1lb/day saved pays for the feeder and you save another 5lbs/day per cow (reasonable compared to bale grazing) that would mean you would save another $495 per 20 cows/one feeder per winter. Over 500 cows that would start to add up.

I know hay "wasted" has a fertility value to the soil but is it the most economic way to improve the soil especially when hay is dearer? If you "waste" 5 or 10 or 15lbs a day per cow that all has to be cash flowed meaning you need to give her still more feed to meet her requirements.

Bale grazing has its merits but I don't think its the no-brainer people make it out to be. Reply With Quote
Aug 15, 2014 | 21:25 10 Around here, bale grazing makes for a deer feedlot. By the hundreds. As it is, by the time spring comes there is not one kernel of corn left in the field for the cows to go back to. What they don't get to in the winter, they don't get.

That's how you really waste feed. Reply With Quote
Aug 16, 2014 | 12:06 11 We tried bale grazing one winter,what a waste of money and feed.What we do is tubgrind a couple big pile and then self feed off the piles with a electric wire and cows are still spreading manure over the field. Reply With Quote
Aug 16, 2014 | 20:49 12 Where hay is plentiful and cheap, bale grazing is a no-brainer. People who ride the edge on feed supplies, buy all their feed in, or don't have much in terms of snowfall, shouldn't probably do it.

Good quality legume hay here, 1500 lb bale is a hard sell beyond $30 a bale. And 120 inches of snow doesn't lend itself to feeding piles under snow cover, or moving portable tumbleweed fences. Also would love to see what a $700 feeder looks like. We can buy the 1 inch square tube, $200 feeders and after 10 years of use, resell at auction for as much or more than we paid for them. I usually buy them at private estate sales for 1/4 what they are worth new. Reply With Quote
Aug 16, 2014 | 21:01 13 I agree with hay at that price bale grazing would easily pencil.
Here is a current ad for hay in AB:

"Price: 8 cents/ lb
267 bales approx 1600 lbs. Alfalfa and grass mix half and half. Put up good with twine. South of Stettler"

That's high admittedly but I can see a lot of hay making 4-6c/lb this year out here.

Here are the feeders I was thinking of - they were well over $600 the last time I bought one and that was several years ago. I like them, they stand up to abuse better than most.
http://hi-hog.com/round-bale-feeders-2/ Reply With Quote
Aug 16, 2014 | 21:14 14 The only abuse I see on feeders is that which comes from the operator using a loader tractor to move them. Have yet to see a mature bull squash a feeder flat, but have seen a few dummies do it. Reply With Quote
Aug 16, 2014 | 21:26 15 So do you move them by hand through your deep snow? Reply With Quote
Aug 18, 2014 | 10:39 16 Kato Yup. Similar problem herebut only with elk.

T.N.T - I am interested in your concept. How does the electric wire work? And how many cows do you run? Reply With Quote
Aug 18, 2014 | 20:25 17 GF, yes, I move them by hand every 4 days or so. Actually pretty easy with the 1 inch tubing feeders as they fall through the soft snow and don't bring any snow up with them, so you can just push them along, even in 3' of snow. Also light enough to walk on top of the snow/ice when you get a good crust; me not so much. Reply With Quote
Aug 18, 2014 | 22:42 18 You wouldn't need a gym membership if you were hand moving feeders for 500 cows. Reply With Quote
Aug 19, 2014 | 07:18 19 I wouldn't bale graze 500 cows, nor would I ever have that many. Never be that far in debt to have to need such numbers and have no interest in working hard just to pay the tax man. Reply With Quote
Aug 19, 2014 | 12:08 20 Who says I am in debt 15444. Dont assume. Reply With Quote
Aug 19, 2014 | 12:43 21 Wasn't a reference to you in particular. Just in general there has to be a reason why people are of that size herds, whether it be 500 or 1000 cows. Either to support a debt load, a certain lifestyle or some very expensive kids. Or maybe they are just workaholics. Reply With Quote
Aug 19, 2014 | 12:47 22 Ok. Yup makes sense.

I would agree. Lots of guys I know just want to keep getting bigger and for what? Take care of what you have. Reply With Quote
Aug 19, 2014 | 18:38 23 There is always a fine line on cost. The AB Ag work found that a soup dish shaped feeder about 1' high worked well to reduce waste. I am not so sure the waste with bale grazing is as high as folks think. It is kind of like the waste with swath grazing, there can be huge ranges depending on the management of the system.
A lot of folks using processors are spreading on the ground and losing a huge portion of the feed value (15% ). When we bale graze hay we waste very little. Greenfeed has a bigger waste factor. A lot depends on how quick you feel you need to move the fence. For us, it works out to not use the tractor time, for others I am sure that it works differently. At our place, requiring a tractor to feed represents a huge risk factor. With our system I can place all my bales in just over 6 hours (20 gallons of fuel) and not start a tractor again all winter, other than plowing out the driveway after a snow storm. This represents a big savings for us that is offset against the "waste".
We have started seeing elk move into the neighbourhood and if that happens we will either be bale grazing with 3D fencing, or moving to some sort of weekly feeder system. Reply With Quote
Aug 19, 2014 | 20:34 24 Sounds like a winter full of elk burgers to me. Reply With Quote
Aug 20, 2014 | 09:44 25 Insightful common smcgrath76.
Youve given me some concepts to think about. Ultimately, I think on our ranch want to look at switching up our setup to make things easier/improve efficiency.

15444 HAHAHA you like hunting buddy? Reply With Quote
Aug 20, 2014 | 09:47 26 Well, apparently I cannot spell.
I meant to say comment not common. Reply With Quote
Aug 20, 2014 | 17:03 27 Why do some grain farmers farm 40000 acres 15444?Same reason we run 1600 cows,because we can and we will continue to get larger.Defiantly not to service debt,and no we don't have or anyone in the family have high lifestyles,unless you call people taking a vacation every year a high lifestyle?We all have a strong work ethnic,and we all want to see the farm continue to get larger for the next generation.And we don't like giving money to the tax man anymore then anyone else does. Reply With Quote
Aug 20, 2014 | 17:38 28 Ray Turner we have the cows on 4 different tubground piles that are each 400' long and the base is roughly 30' wide and probably 20' high or maybe more.The end boards are up when we start grinding and we grind one consistant height for the 400' and then put the end boards up at the other end when were done.We run 2 cables down both sides,bottom cable i believe is 34"s top one 4' or so.Run a cable on the end boards at one end and depending on where the pile is located we will either use a electric or a battery operated fencer,the bottom cables for both sides of the pile slide on top of that end cable so you have hot wires on both sides.We had been using 2 tractors and processors for feeding previous to my son suggesting we try this way 2 years ago,wish i would have known about this way of feeding 20 years ago! Reply With Quote
Aug 20, 2014 | 21:03 29 Ray, not in particular. I just hate most wild 4 leggers and the damage they do to farm assets. Only one I get along with is foxes. If I could have a few dens of foxes in every quarter, I would be a happy camper. Not only fun to watch their antics, but kill a lot of the smaller vermin.

TNT, so your telling me the sole reason to get bigger is because you can? I could never wrap my head around that rationale. Reply With Quote
Aug 21, 2014 | 07:59 30 Thats the line right there! > we don't like giving money to the tax man any more than anyone else does. This is the problem with our industry, we fight amongst ourselves.

T.N.T > Interesting that you said your son came up with the idea. I am curious, how did he know about it? Did he go to school for forage management?
And whats wrong with getting bigger? Reply With Quote