Monday, January 28, 2013

120 Hungry Mouths to Feed

 Do you feel like you're always in the kitchen, either preparing the next meal or cleaning up from the last one? Feeding our 120 cow dairy herd is somewhat the same; until recently. If you read my October 1, 2012 post The Life Cycle of a Silo, you know that we recently removed our silos and replaced them with a bunker. Since then, we have made other changes to feed our "girls" an improved balanced diet, more safely and more conveniently. Come along to see our new recipe to satisfy our herd so they can produce the tasty, healthy milk you enjoy.

The first stop is the feed mill. Corn, minerals, salt and vitamins are mixed together to make 2,100 pounds of ground feed each morning. (The little guy in blue is Flat Aggie. Read about him in my12/1/12 blog post.)

Next stop is the bunker where the silage (chopped corn stalks) is stored. We need 3,200 pounds of silage for our "recipe." This bunker is 45' wide and 75' long.

It's time to do the "stirring." The ground feed and silage are put in the TMR (total mixed ration) wagon to be mixed together. There is a large "beater" inside to do the stirring which takes about 2-3 minutes.

When this scale on the TMR wagon reaches 5,300 pounds of feed and silage we know we have enough to feed our cows their breakfast, lunch and dinner for one day.

Our new wagon is driven in one end of our new building to unload. When finished we can drive out the opposite end. The tractor and wagon are also stored here between feedings.

This chute attached to the side of the TMR wagon is lined up with the feed bunk to unload the silage/ground feed mixture.

It takes only 3 minutes to unload 1/3 of the 5,300 pounds of feed for each meal.

How nice to now be able to feed the herd inside, and it's more comfortable for Farmer John too. All of our cows get a better balanced diet with this new wagon that combines the silage with the ground feed. Just like picky eaters in your family, some cows were not eating everything they should. This new mixing system assures they get the nutrients from both the silage and ground feed. As before, our cows always have access to unlimited hay and water. 

We are proud of our dairy cows, and judging by their swishing tails, I think they are proud to be new members of the Clean Plate Club!

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