Monday, January 11, 2010

The Winter Shed

Sometime back (before the winter set in) I wrote about finishing the lean-to portion of our new shed and how it was going to be used for winter feeding and deep bedding. Like everything else this winter things have not gone exactly as planned in the new deep bedding lean-to, but I am learning at least. There were also a couple of questions about why I was using this shed for winter feeding and why I was putting the cattle in a "winter lot".

I was hoping to have a picture of the feeding/loafing area for you today, but per usual this winter things popped up ... today those things were starters going out ... in both of our vehicles!!! I can't tell you how that is possible, but I just know that it is true. So, for now I'll just throw out some of my thoughts and add a picture later.

First of all one of the main reasons for building the hay shed/deep bedding area/loafing shed is ease. With the hay in one side of shed and the cattle in the other side winter feeding is very simple. I just throw some bales into the feed bunk, pull off the twine, and I'm done. But, the deep bedding pack will also provide some warmth and a dry place for the cattle to go in Iowa's cold winters (it has be below zero a lot this year and it has even rained a lot).

As for the "winter lot", that is something that just works for the weather in our part of the country. From the time they get off of pasture until they get back on the pasture it can be muddy and yucky and if I left them out on the pastures I think they could do some damage in the mud and freezing temperatures. So, this winter lot is something of a sacrificial area so that our pastures can stay strong and not have a lot of hooves tearing it up when it is muddy.

That is the idea behind it all, but things aren't going exactly as planned this year. I am learning a lot and when spring and summer gets here there will be plenty that I will have to change. Our feeding bunk is a work in progress and I believe I need more feeding area for our cattle so they don't get too pushy. Also, finding bedding material this year has been beyond difficult and I haven't been able to create as much "deep bedding" as I would like.

Live and learn I guess ... live and learn ...


Cedar View Paint Horses said...

We put our horses up on the drylot for the winter so they don't destory they grazing pastures. Seems to be the sensible thing to me. With 20" of snow on the ground there's nothin to graze on anyway.

Rich said...

Have you read about the benefits of including some form of wood material in your bedding, compost, etc.? Greatly simplifying the idea, the wood (chips, sawdust, etc.) promotes the growth of fungi that help increase phosphorus fixation when the compost is spread on a pasture (similar to nitrogen fixation by clovers after seed inoculation).

Composting wood chips also supposedly contains probiotics that are beneficial to cattle.

A few bags of wood chip bedding spread in your bedding area once in a while could make the resulting compost even more valuable.

Hank Coran said...

Maybe both starters going out was God's way of keeping yall home so not one would get hurt. There may have been a bad accident or something yall could have been in. I do know how frustrating a no-start car can be. My Lincoln is that way, especially when its cold. Two out of eight cylinders aren't holding proper compression. Oy vey. My "winter tasks" have been draggin out also. :D Good luck on your tasks, and may God continue blessing you and your family.


Russell Kofoed said...

I'm a beginning farmer too, and it's definitely "live and learn."

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