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{barn chores}

03.19.12

Barn chores in the winter consist of adding new bedding material {aka: straw} and feeding {aka: hay}  I was having the hardest time remembering which material is used for what task, so I started saying in my mind, “Straw is for Standing and Hay is for Hunger”.  Now I can remember every time.

Before we moved the whole herd of cattle into the barn, we added straw for bedding material.  We had to add a lot the first time and now we are able to add less.  When and exactly how much we add is determined by experience, observation, and the size of the herd & barn space.

{I was having a hard time with the exposure this day, so please enjoy the stylistic black and white photos- it makes them look slightly better}

To add new bedding and to feed hay the cattle are moved to one section of the barn and then the other.

It takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes to complete barn chores, depending if there are one or two people.

Once the herd is contained on one side, the feed is brought in.

There are two main options {with many options in each of the two categories} for hay bales to feed your cattle.  1) round bales or 2) square bales

This year we are using round bales.  When we purchased the herd of cattle a little over a year ago, we sold half of them.  We sold half mainly because our pasture isn’t quite good enough yet to sustain and nourish that large of a herd.  When we sold the half, we got part cash and part trade for feed.  Our good friends David and Betty at McK Ranch were the ones who bought the cattle.  They make their own hay and put it into round bales. Hence why we use round bales being we traded for them :)

As in many areas of farming, the preference and thought about what type of bale is best to use, is like trying to prove which computer is better- MAC or PC.

It all depends on personal preference, finances, current situation, tools and equipment, and whole mess of other factors.

Eventually we would like to use square bales- small ones to be exact.  We are designing our future working barn to have storage for the year’s supply of hay and straw.

We won’t have to use a tractor every time we feed {which means I can actual go feed and bed the cattle by myself if needed} we won’t need to purchase round bale feeders, and there is less “packaging” to recycle or throw away.

{Willis modeling his new winter hat to help shield the rain}

Round bale feeders are a metal circle that you put the bale into.  It contains the hay and prevents the cattle from wasting as much.  We don’t have any round bale feeders and didn’t feel it was worth the cost to purchase any since we will more than likely not be using round bales in the future.

Once the new bedding is down and the hay bale is in place we open the barn up again so the cattle have the run of the whole place again.

Happy cattle!

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