Dealing with drought is tough. These conditions affect all ranchers in some way when it comes to feeding and finishing livestock. Battling dry conditions also becomes increasingly difficult when you still need to focus on keeping your cattle healthy at the lowest possible cost, while also reducing waste.
If you’re currently combatting drought conditions and planning your inventory and how to get the most out of your feed, it may be worthwhile to also evaluate your feed equipment. Ensuring you have more than enough feed is important, but you also need to ensure you have the right cattle equipment and bale feeders to help you get through.
Consider your feed types & methods
Think about the bales you feed your cattle, how you normally feed them, and how long they usually last. Most ranchers will typically feed bales by placing them in a round bale feeder for cattle. If you have several hundred head, it’s quite likely that you will have multiple round bale feeders on your operation.
If you normally roll out your bales on the ground, this method can be one way to stretch your bales a bit more. However, look at the area where you roll them out. Is it an open area where on a windy day, pieces of the bales can blow away? Are cattle strictly consuming the bales or also using them as bedding, creating additional waste?
If so, it may be time to consider investing in a round bale feeder to reduce as much bale waste as possible. Be sure you use and select round bale feeders that can accommodate a variety of bales, whether you’re feeding squares or rounds.
Make your bales go further
Time is money, and they go hand-in-hand when it comes to making, sourcing, and feeding bales. A good round bale feeder should help maximize your feed and reduce waste. Calculate how many bales on average you feed daily or weekly, and how much you think is wasted. If this number is greater than 15 percent, it may be time to invest in a round bale feeder designed to help save your bales.
Some round bale feeders focus on reducing waste by catching bales with a cone-shaped system of strong, durable rods and chains that keep the bale suspended off the ground. This bale suspension system can also help control cattle intake, making them work a bit harder for their feed. Any hay that does fall to the ground within the bale feeder can easily be reached and cleaned up by cattle, further reducing waste.
Other round bale feeders feature an angled design that draws cattle in and toward the bale in the center, also making them work a bit harder to get to the bale. This design also encourages cattle to keep their heads inside the bale feeder, so hay is kept in it, further reducing waste. The only downside to this style of feeder is that bales often sit on the ground, so there is still the risk of moisture soaking into the bale, often leading to waste.
Think long-term investment
At some point, every rancher has dealt with bent or broken round bale feeders damaged beyond their useful life or that are plain frustrating to work with. Over time, most metal feeding equipment will begin to deteriorate if it’s constantly exposed to the elements and wet conditions. Some round bale feeders are designed to be reversible, meaning you can simply flip the feeder over and use it upside down to double its lifespan, saving you money.
It is recommended to keep your bale feeders on gravel or concrete wherever possible to ensure you get the most out of your purchase. Be sure you select bale feeders from a company that stands behind its products and offers a warranty program. Customer service that is available 24/7 is also a bonus, so if an issue with your bale feeder ever arises, you won’t be left high and dry.
Raising livestock is demanding work. This is something every rancher knows to be true. Especially when the weather and markets are not always in your favor. By taking time to consider all your options when it comes to selecting cattle equipment, including round bale feeders, you can be confident that your choice will last for generations, help you in less-than-ideal circumstances and give you a return on your investment.
This article was published on behalf of Arrowquip.