We heard the forecasts. We knew what was coming and we prepared. Shocking, I know. I didn’t leave the farm yesterday, as we already had plenty of food in the house to keep us going for some time. I’m not a person who rushes to the store with every storm warning, rather we keep a stocked pantry. We may not have everything on hand we’d like to have, but we have what is necessary to survive. The preparations I’d like to share are the outside preparations. You see, we run a herd of beef cows. There’s a portion of the herd that have their babies already (fall calvers with babies that are 2 to 4 months old). Then there’s a small portion with babies that are less than a month old. And a larger portion that will calve between February and April. They all need different types of care but they all need care.
These are the fall calvers. See the babies? They heard Mike fire up the tractor and knew their supper was coming. You can see some lines of hay in this picture. We unroll the big round bales of hay so long as the weather stays good for feeding this way. If it gets too wet, the cows will stomp too much of the hay into the ground and waste it. When the ground is frozen, it works like a hay buffet.
The babies have their own special feed, creep feed, that’s stored in the blue feeder. Notice the bars on the feeder that look like a cage? Well, those are there so the babies can enjoy the feed without their mommas eating it all.
This little guy enjoys the fact that he doesn’t have to share his feed with his momma. The creep feed is a specialty mix designed to help the young calves grow and stay healthy. We don’t add antibiotics to it, but it does have a good vitamin and mineral mix added in.
This winter, we have decided to supplement the cows and bred heifers with a liquid corn syrup. The syrup is a by-product from the production of ethanol. We basically use it as an additional source of energy to help the cows through stressful winter weather. We buy the syrup from a local farmer owned ethanol plant. Surprisingly, we were told last week that we’re the only farmers in the area feeding this product. I’m guessing the storage and feeding of it is more than most guys want to deal with.
This is the tank we use to haul the syrup in. Twice a week Mike and Chris make the trip to get another load. It basically costs us somewhere around $16/cow/month. We’re hoping it will lower our hay expenses. So far, so good. Below is a close up of the feeder. The cows lick the little black wheel clean and as it rotates around, it recovers itself in the syrup. Automatic feeder – sort of.
So, the cows were given their hay and corn syrup. All that was left was the feeding of silage. Silage is a feed that we put up in the early fall. Before the corn dries out good enough for harvest, we chop silage. This is the first year we put a bag of silage at our own farm. Usually we only put silage at Mike’s dad’s farm. Due to some changes in how things are being done, it’s good we have the feed here. Chris and Jesse also feed silage to their show heifers.
We use the skid loader to feed silage a bucket load at a time. These are our bred heifers that are due to calve early in February. They do enjoy some silage.
Chris was raking some of the silage out of the bucket into an old tractor tire that we use for feeding.
And there’s Jesse running the skid loader to get another bucket full.
Meanwhile, back at the barn, the show heifers were waiting for their feed…….
A cow and her new baby were bedded down in the barn………….
The Angus heifer once again let me know she was waiting, not quite so patiently now………………..
The Simm-Solution (low percentage Simmental) heifer wanted her close up taken…………….
And then thought I should get a slightly different angle……………
The cat, who by the way, will be having kittens sometime, perched on the post to survey the situation……………………………..
While the daddy cat got a drink at the local watering hole……………………
And Cope tried to figure out where he put that bone before the next round of snow hits.
So there you have it. Farmer winter weather prep. All of this was done in about a 3 hour span and has to be done every day in the winter….some of it twice a day. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, snowing, raining, muddy or dry, the animals rely on us to be there every day. And honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.