When I was a little girl I always saw cows out in a pasture and thought…how lucky is that, to have all that grass to eat and it is there all the time so they never get hungry or need anything else to eat…oh my goodness... I was WRONG!!
Since becoming the wife of a farmer I have been enlightened about many things. Feeding cows is just one of those many things. We raise beef cows. Which means we want healthy mama cows to have healthy babies. Good nutrition is a vital part of that happening. The mama cows nutritional requirements are at their highest in their last trimester of pregnancy and the first few months of nursing their new babies. This good nutrition plays a major part in good milk production. You would be surprised to hear exactly what goes into the feeding of our cows. Prepare to be surprised….
We mix different things together to get the proper nutritional values in our feed.
One thing we do is chop hay and add it into our food mixture. This is a hay buster. It chops the hay to make it easier to mix. This hay makes a good filler for the feed mixture to “stretch” the feed and make it go further. A huge round hay bale is put in the hay buster and and the chopped hay is dumped in the barn into piles ready to be mixed in the feed. We also feed the bales of hay to the cows too. They are carried to the cows on the back of a hay trailer (4 bales at a time) or with the bale mover on the back of a tractor (one at a time).
This is one of our two hay trailers. It is pulled by a truck and can haul 4 bales at a time. Each bale has a lever that will release it. I wish it would catapult it way up in the air in a high arc and plummet to the ground…but when you pull the lever it just sort of rolls off slowly. I guess that is much safer. Besides if it did do that I would want this job all the time!!!
This is the hay bale mover carrying hay to the cows at the feedlot.
We use a front end loader to scoop up the silage (we grew ourselves…a previous blog post) and brewers grain (we buy it and have it hauled in). The front end loader dumps it straight into the feed mixer. The picture on the right is brewers grain.
The picture on the left is silage. The picture on the right is a close up of the brewers grain. It is a by-product of beer. It also smells like beer. (yuck) !! The cows love it though.
This is the truck that brings the brewers grain. It was kind of cool to see how it worked and dumped the stuff. That is some kind of crazy hydraulic lift. I have never seen one lift so high
Sometimes we either mix molasses in the feed or feed it straight to the cows in troughs. This is the smaller tank we would pump it out of and this is the small pump used to do it.
This is the large holding tank that would hold the molasses (if we had any). It has gotten so expensive that we are not feeding it right now.
This is the feed mixer. All the ingredients get dumped in and mixed. They can mix 4 tons of food at a time in the mixer. It is then dumped into piles in the barn. They then use the front end loader to load it into the cool red feed truck.
This is Van loading silage into the mixer. We keep the silage in these bags to keep it from spoiling.
This is Big Red in action. The cows can hear it coming from a long ways away. They come a running and a bellering. They know that the dinner bell has been rung. The feed shoots out of a drop down chute on the side of the truck. This is at the feed lot. There are feed troughs all along both sides of the road. There are a series of pens behind each of the feed troughs. This is where we keep smaller groups of cows or calves. Makes feeding them a lot easier.
One of my favorite pictures of the cows eating. I love to see them all the way down the feed lot with their heads in the feed trough. Happy cows have healthy babies. And I can relate…eating makes me happy too.
Bon appetite!! Or in our case “DIG IN” !!!!
These cows are in an open pasture. They hear the feed truck and here they come. The feed is shot into the cement feed troughs. “if you feed them…they will come”.
My sweet honey feeding the cows. This is mainly a cold weather job. When the grass dies we have to give the cows something else to eat. That is where the hay and feed comes in. The cooler weather also means calving season. Mamas need extra food and better nutrition for themselves and their babies.
These cows are hanging out around the feed troughs waiting for Van in the feed truck. They know it won’t be long and the feed will be flowing.
The cows enjoying some home grown hay.
If you have seen the beautiful, lush, green grass growing in some of our fields, it is rye. (and the cranes and the deer LOVE it too!) That is what we will feed the cows in the spring. We just turn the cows into the field and they go at it. We have already turned some cows into some of these rye fields. I can imagine to a cow it is quite delicious. It has to be since it is so beautiful to the eye and tender to the touch. I was tempted to taste it the other day when I picked some for my babies to try to eat. :)
Summer will come soon and the rains will bring some thick green pasture grass. That will get the cows through to the cold and calving season once again. It is a cycle…but definitely not a vicious cycle. Have you seen our sweet, adorable, and beautiful babies!!!
We have beautiful babies everywhere !!!!
Except for fluffing and moving the hay that the cows eat…this is the extent of me helping feed the cows. But I think I get the best part of that job.
We have around 1400 mama cows having babies, 41 bulls, various bunches of heifer and steer calves to be sold and bunches of replacement heifers that will one day be mama cows (around 550). There are many mouths to feed. Even if the feed does not go out every single day…there is something that has to be done everyday to prepare it. And they are fed every other day. Every other day 28 tons of feed is fed to our cows. It is by no means exciting or fun but it is one of the most important parts of “cow work”. Our crew work very hard to get the cows fed and it is what keeps them in their best shape (the cows I mean although getting up and down off the tractors and in and out of the trucks is a really good workout for the crew too). I think we have a great looking bunch of cows and our crew ain’t so bad either!!!! I love farmers…especially mine.