Winter's coming, and so is my hay.

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Haggis, Aug 14, 2004.

  1. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I ordered my winter hay a while back and our hay man say's he'll start delivering it next week; $35 a round bale for 15 CWT bales, and I ordered 40.

    We have 11 head of cattle: 2 Jerseys @ 19 CWT, and 6 Milking Devons that we'll be wintering @ 38 CWT.

    I understand that the math for hay is (animal weight X .02) X number of days on hay. For us that would be ((5700 X .02) X 225)/1500. We are using .03 for the daily hay allottment just for good measure. ((5700 X .03) X 225)/1500 which is something around 26 bales. We'll buy 40 and make sure to have plenty.

    God love my little Scotty dog and her litter of 8 pups. We sold all but the one we're keeping for $150 each and are using the money to pay for part of the hay.

    The Milking Devons were sold to me as bred, but the months have come and gone, and the due dates have come and gone without any calves. Maybe next year these pretty red gals will have calves to sell and they can buy their own hay?

    I have an 11 year old cow, a 3 year old cow, and a 2 year old bull for sale (not related) or to eat. As they are so rare, I'll be saddened to eat any of our Milking Devons but I need the space for our herd to grow in different directions. If we do eat any Herself and I, our 5 kids, their spouses, and the Granddarlings could fairly easily take care of 2. The other 1 we'll have butchered and donate it to the local Salvation Army soup kitchen.

    I don't have a barn large enough to house all of our cattle and 40 of these big bales of hay so I suppose the hay will have to stay outside. Anybody have some good tips for storing round bales outside?
     
  2. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Sorry to hear about your girls not being bred, Haggis. :(

    Our neighbor stores is round bales by putting one flat on the ground, with another up on edge on top of it.
     

  3. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi Haggis;
    About 2 tons per winter is about average amount needed for stockers. (not milking) The rule of thumb is you are half way through hay season on the first of Feb.
    To store round bales out doors, having something on the ground under them will save a lot of hay from spoiling due to moisture coming up into the hay from the ground. Old pallets our as good as anything you can find. Don't try stacking the bales up because the water running off the top bales soak into the bales below them. Also harder to handle without a heavy duty loader. Never place them with the round sides anywhere close to each other. Snow and rain will run down and be trapped between the bales and soak into the sides of the bales. It works well to butt the flat ends together and put them into a single file row. The flat ends will protect each other from the wet weather.
    Do you have a tractor with a bale spear to move them to where you plan to feed them? A round bale feeder is the best way to feed them without excessive waste. I put the bales where I wanted to feed them and rolled the feeder to the bale by hand and flopped it over the bale. The Ford I had then wouldn't pick up a large bale high enough to go over the top of the bale feeder.
    It would pay you to put pallets under at least a dozen of the bales and put plastic or something over them to shed water because I agree that you will have about that many to carry over to next year. Unk
     
  4. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    We store round bales by lining them up end to end as Uncle describes. No pallets though, just on the ground. High ground, but just ground.

    A cow can DIGEST 2.5% of the BW in poor quality hay and up to 3.5% of BW for high quality hay. They can eat more than that, but if they can't digest it, they can't digest it. If you are feeding other things to meet their nutritional needs they won't keep chomping down hay all day in an attempt to satisfy their hunger.

    At $35 bucks a bale, this ought to be medium/high quality hay. Your 3% figure would be right on with what they can utilize. We sell/buy 1500 pound bales of low quality grass hay for $15-20.

    You also need to figure at least 20% waste. Hay stomped in the ground, etc. That's with a ring. If you are just putting it out there...figure more like 40-50% or more.

    Last year I had 57 head and they ate about a bale a day (I put them out 5 at a time).

    Jena
     
  5. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I've been watching the paper here in our part of Northern Minnesota and hay has been at about $20 for an #800 bale and $40 for a #1600 bale. There was just a single cutting to be had and what I'm buying is delivered at the $35 price.

    It's mostly Brome, Timothy, and Trefoil with some Clover thrown in. Nothing special but as good as I can get for the price delivered, and there's not much around here to be had at any price; not many farmers here and the few there are are cutting hay for themselves.

    I have one hay ring and I'll buy another to help those lower in the pecking order get their part. I don't have anything other than my Jeep or 4-wheeler to drag teh bales around with, so I'll move them a little and put the ring around the bale. Also, I intend to feed some supplement; much to thechagrin of my wife who says that I overfeed everything.

    I appreciate all of the tips on how to store the hay.
     
  6. torade

    torade Well-Known Member

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    I've got 2 hay fields. My cutter just now got one done. He says it grew slow this year so just one cutting when usually there's 2.
    I wonder if that drove the price up?
     
  7. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    Could be the weather driving up prices, but this is the first year I've wintered cattle up here so I'm a bit new to the practise and the prices. I know my fenced pastures are just about gone already and I may either have to start feeding hay a bit early or start back in at fencing dried up grass that's gone to seed; I'm watching the grass pretty close.

    Fortunately I have a large of area fenced in and it has rained enough lately to cause a small growth spurt. My cows would prefer to nibble at this short new growth than eat much hay. I put out a couple of small bales of very good hay every day and 11 of them take the next 24 hours to clean it up so I guess they're not hurting. Another month and it's going to be a done deal anyway and the frost will be with us.

    My pastures are all native grasses now as it has been so many years since this acreage was farmed, but I'm going to start broadcasting grass seed on all of it this fall and let the fall rains and the freeze/thaw effect work the seed into the ground. Next spring I'll fertilize the pastures and put some lime on the place. Maybe, in the future, I'll be able to put up hay on my own land, but I think I had rather have more cattle, less equipment, and just buy hay.

    torade - Where on the Range?
     
  8. torade

    torade Well-Known Member

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    I'm by Hoyt Lakes.

    I've got a guy that cuts it for me, but I could use something to drag the bales around. I'll havta ask the cutter to do it for me.
    I'm not sure if I even need all this hay. All I have are chickens now.
    I'm looking for horses and goats but no rush.
     
  9. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    One of my son-in-laws is from Hoyt Lakes and I believe Herself will be teaching English in Aurora this coming term; maybe, she don't tell me everything and I don't ask.

    I have a very old and dear friend who lives in Palo.

    We live near Sparta; about a mile cross country from Ely Lake.
     
  10. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I frost seeded my pastures with clover a couple years ago. Put it out in late February/early March (check for your area). Worked great. I think this would be better than broadcasting grass in the fall, but I'm no expert.

    Don't fertilize/lime without getting your soil tested. You could be wasting money.

    Rotational grazing will go a long, long ways towards improving your pasture. I can't say it's cheaper, because it might not be by the time you put in fencing, but fencing stays...fertilizer lasts a year.

    Try to prevent that grass going to seed by mowing. Keeps it active longer and gives you more grass in the long run. If you have the room, you can stockpile grass for fall grazing. My pastures are getting a bit thin too (as usual). I'm about to put the cows on hay for a couple weeks and let them catch up. The fescue should be getting ready to start growing again (it's been really cool here) and I grazed last year until November, well past frosts. I also graze crop residue in the fall though which helps.

    I sometimes have problems moving 1500 pound bales with a 95hp row crop tractor (2WD) due to mud. You need to do some very careful planning to move those bales with a jeep or 4-wheeler. If you plan to put them in one spot and simply slide one out as needed...by the time mud season hits the entire area around your hay will be three feet deep!

    Cows will stand there with their head in the ring munching and pooping. Then they like to huddle around the ring to lay on the spilled hay, plus get a windbreak. The area around the rings turns into a bottomless pit of muck very fast. It freezes sometimes, but it often remains gloppy when everything else if froze. When it does freeze, it's like a lunar landscape of hoofprints that the cows have a hard time navigating. I hate that, but winter is hard on us all.

    I put out hay every 5 days or so. I move the ring to new ground every time I put in new hay (ok...sometimes when it's real cold and nasty I don't, but I ought too). I cover about 4 acres doing this and by spring that 4 acres is a wasteland. I use cropground so it's an easy thing to disc it all up and plant (but the crops do show the signs of being planted where hay/cows have been).

    I use crop ground because I want to save pasture. A hay ring will result in nothing but weeds growing in that area the next year, unless you lime/re-seed it, but then you can't graze it right away either. As it is, my winter pasture is worthless for at least half the grazing season as it recovers from the overuse of winter (they get 7 acres total of crop ground and about 10-15 acres pasture for winter use).

    I feel like this whole post is sort of incoherent, but the bottom line is...wherever you put all that hay, it will turn into a mucky mess from going in to get it out. Wherever you put your rings will turn into a mucky mess as well. You may well find your Jeep buried to the axels and your 4-wheeler doing fruitless wheelies as you try to move that hay!

    Another option is to line the hay up and feed them off the ends. You can do that with a hotwire or those feeder panel things they sell. I've never done this, but it looks ok on paper!

    I would not think it would be cost effective to invest in haying equipment for 11 head of cattle.

    You do need to feed a supplement with the hay. I've seen cows over-wintered just on medium/low quality hay and they look like they came from a cow concentration camp just in time for peak lactation. You can do it, but you'll have healthier more productive cows if you make sure their nutrtional needs are met. Hay alone doesn't usually do that, unless you have really good hay and then I still have my doubts!

    Jena
     
  11. torade

    torade Well-Known Member

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    The previous owner put hay rounds on the bare ground end up. 2 of them are still sitting out there. I noticed the middles are mucky. Is it better to keep them on the sides if your going to lay them on bare ground or palette? Do put tarp over the rest of the bales?

    Haggis: Oh, I had guessed you lived in Wolf.
    Do you still teach too?
     
  12. AR Transplant

    AR Transplant Well-Known Member

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    We live in northwest Arkansas. There is so much hay this year that our neighbor has 200 square bales sitting in the field. There is no room in the barn, and he couldn't sell them or in the end even give them away. They are just rotting in the field and pretty much ruined now. go figure.
     
  13. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    I want to feed my animals outside during teh day, but keep them up at night. My barn is large enough to create stalls for each animal and allow them their own manger to stop competition for hay and concentrates.

    Some of my cows are a bit wild and I want to break them to milk so stalling them would give me a chance to gentle them a bit. Also, I will breaking two of my year and a half old heifers for draft and they'll need alot of one-on-one time.

    It gets cold here in Northern Minnesota in winter; I've seen -60 plus not counting the wind chill. Stalling them would give them a warm bed out of drafts and the snow. It would make more work for me to carry hay to them, but I'm retired now and it would give me something to do.

    Mucking out stalls and carrying hay may not rank up there with sliding down hills with sticks on your feet, but it would still be entertaining.

    I really want to thank everyone for the tips on hay storage, feeding, and feed nutritional and monetary value. This took a lot of effort on your part and has helped give me a heap more confidence.
     
  14. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you could place some of the bales inside the barn it would be convienient to feed in bad weather. A sawsall with a 12 inch blade would slice down through the hay in the bales making it possible to remove hay from the bales with a pitch fork. If the bales are standing on end the hay will peel off in layers like a roll of toilet paper.
     
  15. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    That's a good idea Uncle. It sure would make my chore a bit easier.

    My Indiana Grandfather used to put up some of his hay with a small round baler the likes of which I have not seen in a 'coon's age, but most of his hay he would stack in a field near his barn and let the cows have access to one at a time. If for any reason he needed hay in his barn from one of the stacks he used a sort of saw with one handle at right angles to the other and very strange looking teeth.

    You mentioning the sawsall caused me to have a bit of a Proustian experience there for a moment.
     
  16. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Getting stuff moved in the frozen north is a trial in itself. Haggis, maybe you should think of making some sort of sled that will go through the snow. We have the same problem here with snow, we've used an old car hood for a bale mover, it's like a saucer when it's upside down so tows ok with the 4 wheeler. We have some 50 gallon barrels cut in half lengthways that my husband attached old skis to, and they tow quite well through the snow, we use them for water or feed. Thinking ahead is always good.

    Carol K
     
  17. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    We do get a lot of snow here sometimes, enough to bury a 4-wheeler, and it won't melt until spring, but if we keep our work areas plowed the car hood idea will work just fine. Within the next week or two I'll have run a water line to my milkroom in the barn, and that will help with watering everything.

    My Indiana Grandfather rigged up a long cable to his barn with a contraption that resembled a huge paper clip riding a pully on the cable and a tripod on the haystack end. He'd move the tripod to each new stack and tie it off to one of his tractors, push the clip into a haystack, pull up a large load of hay and let it ride the cable to the barn.

    (In he summers when he wasn't around an older adopted cousin/uncle and I used to stretch the cable out and tie it off, then ride the pully to the barn. It was a riot until ya hit the barn and then..., well, if the bones didn't actually come through the flesh injurys weren't mentioned to Granpa.)
     
  18. Patty0315

    Patty0315 Well-Known Member

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    Round bales here in NNY go for $6-10.00 a bale . Those prices above would kill me. We may have to buy some this year as our fields have been really wet and we only have 63 bales up so far.
     
  19. Patty: There are round bales and then there are round bales. Here I buy 5foot x 6 foot bales, about l500 pounds for $20. It costs the farmer about $12 to put them up by the time you count wear and tear on his equipment.

    Haggis: If you get bad weather you will play the devil moving big round bales with a jeep. Certainly an ATV will be overmatched. If you want to feed hay from big bales you will have to come up with a bale mover, either a tractor or a bale trailer that you can pull with your jeep.

    If you are feeding grass hay you will certainly need to feed some supplement. Your cows will have to eat a lot of hay to stay warm in Minnesota. You can keep them warm by feeding enough protein that they can digest that hay. As an earlier poster stated, if they get too little protein they simply cannot move hay thru their digestive system. If they are not voiding several times a day they are not moving hay.

    Here I feed two pounds of protein cubes per day per animal. I usually feed 20% protein cubes. The cubes are all vegetable, no urea. The ground corn or milo in the cube furnishes energy and the protein (soybean or cottonsead meal) moves the hay along. If the weather is bad I sometimes feed 37% cubes.

    Your hay will go farther if you stall the animals and carry hay to them. If you have a hay saw or sawzall to do the work this is feasible, but you will get tired of it. Certainly you are gong to get tired of mucking out stalls.

    Store your bales end to end. If you turn one of them on end it will collect water and rot. Pallets to keep them off the ground save hay, but the pallets rot and if not picked up they leave metal and nails in your pasture to kill cattle (Hardware Disease). There are long tarps made to cover hay, and there is at least one firm selling big plastic bags designed to cover bales. Here they are stored uncovered in the open.

    One final thought: When unable to move bales I have sometimes used an electric fence in place of a bale ring. Put the fence on insulators attached to rebar posts, about l8 inches from the bale and about three feet high. By adjusting the fence you can feed one bale at a time down a row of bales. If you do it this way I would use two bales at a time inn order to give the cattle room at the table. This is not the thriftiest way to feed but works if you cannot move bales.

    Bottom line is you need some bale-moving equipment.
    Ox
     
  20. Haggis

    Haggis MacCurmudgeon

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    Thanks for the tips; I'll be using them.

    The area of concentrates is the most troubling to me: if I buy the ground stuff the cattle may not get the full value of it, and the cubed stuff isn't to be had around here. Maybe I can special order enough for winter? I'm planning to winter 8 head so a ton of concentrates a month would be more than enough. The story goes that I can have bulk feed delivered to my smallholding, so maybe I could get a couple of 4 ton loads fetched in?

    Anyway, thanks again for all of the help.