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Low-cost wintering options for calves

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LCP
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Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby LCP » Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:39 pm

I'm brainstorming for ideas on low-cost, low-labor, low-input ways to winter our heifer calves and light steers. Here are my resources: 200 4-5 wt weaned calves, bale processor with 22 bu grain tank, bale bed, grain feeder for bale bed, metal bunks, bale rings, grass/alfalfa hay, oats/peas hay, slough hay, portable windbreak. We have always bucket-fed them grain in the yard, hay in bale rings. I want to get them out of the yard and have the manure fall where it does me some good without having to haul it. I do not want to invest in infrastructure. I want to put 1 - 1.5 lb a day on them, no more.

#1 idea - bale graze on nearby hay fields, use bale bed grain feeder to supplement with shell corn and soy hull pellets
#2 idea - feed hay and grain with bale bed on hay fields
#3 idea - feed hay and grain with bale processor on hay fields (maybe not a good idea with the oats & peas hay?)
#4 idea - run them on cornstalks and balance the feed ration so I deliver 50-75% of their daily intake and they rustle up the other half in the cornfield

I have portable windbreaks, but I also had my stackmover drop this year's slough hay stacks in "L" shaped formations in the hay fields I want to winter on, so they can serve as windbreaks as well. I've got free-standing corral panels to set around the stacks so the calves don't make a mess of them.

I will be custom-wintering some cows few miles away, which I planned on using the bale processor for (feeding old low-quality hay). Not having to drive it 6 miles a day round trip would be nice. I am leaning toward #1 or #2 until it proves not to work.

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Re: Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby RSL » Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:21 am

That is nearly exactly what we have evolved to here. We bale graze calves in pasture/hay fields with a mixture of hay/greenfeed bales and supplement with grain or pellets (whichever is cheaper). We use portable windbreaks for shelter, although the bales provide good shelter as well. We waste a bit more feed bale grazing calves than cows, but figure it is made up for with time savings, and often come in after with cows to clean up the little bit that is left. Unrolling bales is the least waste but more cost, shredding on the ground is the highest waste (even more than bale grazing). We have found it has greatly reduced our sickness and our costs over feeding in the corral. For example, our corral cleaning bill this year for the couple of corrals we used, plus an old corral was $600 Cdn (so about $1.50 US) :D

Calves walk in for water and are trained to come for grain in troughs. I think the excercise helps reduce a lot of respiratory issues and the biggest benefits of the concentrate are that they are very easy to handle and we can get a proper mineral package into them. We do wind up with oat patches in our pastures from the greenfeed bales.

I will try to dig out some pictures in my files.
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LCP
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Re: Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby LCP » Mon Oct 03, 2016 4:43 pm

I would like to stay away from bunks, so I can feed in a new spot every day and not have to move bunks around. I made this rolling feed dispenser last winter, thought I could maybe use that to feed on the ground. A little more waste than bunks possibly, depending on conditions, but if the ground is froze I think it might work ok.


Image

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Re: Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby Denny » Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:25 pm

I'd be sure to grind the corn or make sure its dry I fed whole corn that was 18% moisture and the calves got nothing from it to hard for the enzymes to penetrate but not hard enough for stress cracks. My nutritionist explained it to me sounded good as one year the corn was 13% moisture and they grew great next year it was 18% just as well not fed them any that year. He had a formula where it was between 15% and I cant remember say @5% moisture it's to hard but doesn't have any cracks in the enamel of the kernel could call him and get the exacts if you'd like. We fed our heifers out with our bred heifers last year corn stalks, free choice meadow hay and a silage tmr every third day they are one of the nicest sets of bred heifers I've raised and the 1st calvers have the biggest calves out of all the calves this year they are a month older and have had plenty of grass but I feel how they were wintered had a lot more to do with it. How bout those Vikings...

oh and we fed on the ground. We did build some bottomless bunks and will build more the amount of feed they save is HUGE.
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Re: Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby Brad S » Wed Oct 05, 2016 12:53 pm

Are the heifers going to be bred in the spring? On breeding heifers, I worry about kph fat and restrict concentrates - keep it natural.

Least cost with nickel corn is to push them, but you know that and said "low cost." I like bunks, all you pay is the interest on the money cause they're worth the money back (if you didn't buy them at tsc). I use 28" half pipe bunks with a chain between sections - hook on to one end and move 250.' I've unrolled hay on turfy or frozen ground and turned around and used a cake feeder to put grain on top of the hay. Very little waste. I do that preweaning to build microbes and acquaint calves to grain. They go right on feed then. You know the old rub - can't feed cheap spending much on grinding, but corn needs about 13 particles. Frankly, anything you do on the farm is usually money well spent, and $70,000 pickups and $14,000 side by sides not so much.

Lcp, ya gotta explain that tire deal for us dumboys - I think I like it.

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Re: Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby LCP » Wed Oct 05, 2016 8:25 pm

Brad S wrote:Are the heifers going to be bred in the spring? On breeding heifers, I worry about kph fat and restrict concentrates - keep it natural.

Least cost with nickel corn is to push them, but you know that and said "low cost." I like bunks, all you pay is the interest on the money cause they're worth the money back (if you didn't buy them at tsc). I use 28" half pipe bunks with a chain between sections - hook on to one end and move 250.' I've unrolled hay on turfy or frozen ground and turned around and used a cake feeder to put grain on top of the hay. Very little waste. I do that preweaning to build microbes and acquaint calves to grain. They go right on feed then. You know the old rub - can't feed cheap spending much on grinding, but corn needs about 13 particles. Frankly, anything you do on the farm is usually money well spent, and $70,000 pickups and $14,000 side by sides not so much.

Lcp, ya gotta explain that tire deal for us dumboys - I think I like it.


They will be bred in July & August. This year my heifers weighed 690 going to grass May 1 and bred up very well. Don't need to push them, just keep them growing.

The tire is an old fertilizer spreader tire I got from the local co-op. I cut a hole about 12" diameter in the tread. Stuck a heavy pipe through the middle of the tire, supported by some "spokes" to keep it centered in the opening, then attached some plastic I salvaged from an old chemical shuttle to the spokes to seal up the openings. Last year I filled it with 5 gallon buckets, this year I am going to upgrade to a 12v drill fill auger for filling. Anyway, I figure it would hold about 900 lb or better of feed. Roll it around behind the pickup and it leaves about half a 5 gallon bucket of grain every time around, roughly 12 ft apart. I fed last spring in places with a lot of old dead grass and waste was about zero with soy hull pellets and shell corn. I think if you click on the photo you can see a bigger photo.

Now I got to figure out a way to crack that corn inside of it, then I'll have something!

Denny, its too early for me to be optimistic about the Purple and Gold...I've been a Vikings fan too long, I'm pretty cynical anymore :)

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Re: Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby Denny » Wed Oct 05, 2016 9:44 pm

Not me I bleed purple even on the down years.
If your dreams don't scare you there not big enough!

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Re: Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby littlejoe » Wed Oct 05, 2016 11:11 pm

Tire feeder----I've seen pictures with kinda a 'flapper door'---wondered if it was necessary.

I Like the wide profile---be neat if a guy could just plunk it down and have it stay upright.....

I don't farm much, but bought a double hopper drill tender, suppose it holds maybe 300 bu total.

They're not real popular anymore, on acct air seeders, suits me on acct of most seed I get is in totes, the way I was doing it was either dangerous or a lotta work. With this tender, I can leave it on gooseneck and run hydr augers with squeeze on hydrabed or put it on truck and plumb into hoist hydraulics. Thinking maybe get some pea screenings for supplement, store and handle it in drill tender.

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Re: Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby LCP » Thu Oct 06, 2016 8:37 pm

littlejoe wrote:Tire feeder----I've seen pictures with kinda a 'flapper door'---wondered if it was necessary.

I Like the wide profile---be neat if a guy could just plunk it down and have it stay upright.....

I don't farm much, but bought a double hopper drill tender, suppose it holds maybe 300 bu total.

They're not real popular anymore, on acct air seeders, suits me on acct of most seed I get is in totes, the way I was doing it was either dangerous or a lotta work. With this tender, I can leave it on gooseneck and run hydr augers with squeeze on hydrabed or put it on truck and plumb into hoist hydraulics. Thinking maybe get some pea screenings for supplement, store and handle it in drill tender.


It does stand up by itself, which is nice because I can roll it around by hand in the shop to get it out of the way. Next upgrade will be to get a remote control for my bale bed, would sure make hooking it up easier.

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Re: Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby Brad S » Thu Oct 06, 2016 8:51 pm

Do you have a few eze? Dew eze beds have the electric controls and so remote controls were pretty simple.

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Re: Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby LCP » Fri Oct 07, 2016 7:10 am

Brad S wrote:Do you have a few eze? Dew eze beds have the electric controls and so remote controls were pretty simple.


No, I have a Besler. It has electric controls also, just hardwired in right now. I called Besler, think it was $400-450 to add one. Sounded easy enough to install.

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Re: Low-cost wintering options for calves

Postby littlejoe » Sat Oct 08, 2016 12:30 am

" Next upgrade will be to get a remote control for my bale bed, would sure make hooking it up easier..." Yup, that'd be neat for lotsa stuff---in the meantime, if you unload it in the same spot---maybe a couple custom height 'saw horses' to plunk arms onto? and maybe a couple pieces of loose, smaller diam pipe to guide while squeezing?


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