April 7, 2009

Summary of March 2009:

"Trooper" and Mrs. John
We both like 'driving the pickup' when it is cold!!!

Work on the ranch from December to February is mostly 'Feeding'.
We actually feed hay to our cattle from December until at least May, but from December to February, the 'feeding' takes up most of the day. There are other things besides feeding: in January, we feed and sell the 9 month old calves; in February, we vaccinate the replacement heifer calves, and in March the cows begin calving.
But the main part of our ranch work during the winter months is Feeding. We spend all summer irrigating, cutting and baling hay... and spend all winter rolling it out! Our life revolves around FEED! :)

Moving Cows.... it is easy when it is snowing... they follow the hay rack!

Here is how we 'FEED':
(We have a 250-head ranch. As is usual, you don't count the 15 bulls, or any cattle under 1 year of age, such as the 40 replacement heifers, when describing 'head' a ranch runs. So 250-head means we have approx. 250 mature cows. Actual animals on the ranch will vary from approx 300 in March before the new calves are born to approx. 500 in January before we sell the calves.)
So, for a few months, we feed 500 head of cattle. That takes alot of FEED!
We feed them together as one 'bunch'. Some ranchers, like my brothers will have more than one 'bunch'... sorting them by age during calving time, or sorting into different fields in the summer so that specific bulls are with specific cows during breeding season.
Anyway, we feed with large round bales, simply because it is easier to do it with 'tractor power' rather than handling the smaller, traditional rectangular bales by 'man power'! :)

We load the bales on a hay rack and pull it to the 'feeding grounds'.
The net wrap or twine that holds the hay together in a 'bale' must be removed.
Then the tractor unrolls the bale into strips of hay.

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