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Cows, Carbon, Compost

February 11, 2015

The cows are in.

Cows in.

Cows in.

Well most of them anyway.

Daily chores now with the cows in take a little longer since we add bedding daily.  After a week in the barn, the cows are used to the morning drill.  They look at us expectantly hoping for feed.  But I don’t like to bed with the cows in, so we shoo them out and keep Grady in the shed with us.  Just the dog’s presence keeps them from wanting to come in.  Our dogs are stock dogs but this is the only place we actually employ them with the cattle.  They come when we call, and we can drive them if needed by applying appropriate pressure in their flight zones.

After the cows are out of the barn, we fill the feeder with hay on the personnel side, put the straw bales in the cow side, and spread the flakes over the entire shed.  When we’re done, we remove the dog and ourselves, and call the cows.  Even though they know to come in and are waiting, we call them to reinforce that when we call, they come.  Training with every interaction sure makes a difference if you have a fencing mishap.  When we call the cows, they listen.  Simple but effective.  The littles are just learning the ropes, they are learning we bring the food all the time and sometimes it’s going to be in close quarters, until now the young calves have only been in the corral once or twice and they are used to being wild and free.  They’ve learned paddock shifts, noisy vehicles bring food in the pasture, and now that humans stand right there and hand you food.  How sweet is that?  The babies are learning what the elders already know.  “Mmm, Foodbringer approaching, act grateful until they leave.”

Day six - and things are heating up.

Day six – and things are heating up.


21 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2015 8:28 am

    I have been wondering how you do your deep litter, It uses a lot of straw doesn’t it, but John does not mind, he is always thinking compost.. I feed mine out in the sacrifice paddock (they always poop when they start to eat – charming) so at least some of the manure goes straight onto the field I will resow this spring. c

  2. deb permalink
    February 11, 2015 8:29 am

    Is it wrong for me to be jealous of all that prime compost? 😊

  3. February 11, 2015 8:30 am

    Good post. They really abuse their bedding each day. Looks awesome.

    • February 11, 2015 9:07 am

      Yeah, the front half by the feeder is compacted and the back half is pretty light and fluffy where they sleep. There is 18″ of sawdust/horse manure under all that and you can’t even tell now after a week.

      • February 11, 2015 10:46 am

        It’s a pretty good use of your time too. Big snow coming here early next week. Cold nights for this week. I’ll never finish grazing the east pasture. We were scheduled to finish up by Valentines day. Looks more like March 1. I’m probably going to have to buy a newer manure spreader before we get all the manure hauled out but imagine what that’s going to do for my pastures with a little sprinkling of lime!

        Not to hijack, we are scheduled for chicks next week just when the cold snap hits. The post office does a poor job of keeping chicks alive in extreme weather. The hatchery we use offered to start them on feed if we are delayed picking them up. How cool is that?

        • February 11, 2015 10:47 am

          Crap. That counts as a Get-Your-Own-Blog-Comment-Hog comment, doesn’t it?

        • February 11, 2015 11:27 am

          No, you have 71 words left.

        • February 11, 2015 11:31 am

          It’s been pretty nice here cold-wise. I’m glad for the rain, but fear this early spring will drag on…with more rain late. But no sense worrying about it, can’t change the weather.

          Wow, can’t even imagine chicks in February!

        • February 11, 2015 6:14 pm

          We usually brood them a little longer but we have been getting birds on Valentine’s day for a few years now. We wrap them up before the buffalo gnats come on strong. We lost a lot of birds to buffalo gnats one year and have lost significantly fewer to cold weather. Really, a good start in a warm brooder then a warm spell to get them on pasture in March and we’re set.

  4. Bee permalink
    February 11, 2015 8:47 am

    The standing joke around here is that all our cows and horses think they’re named “Maybelle,” because I would always call her in for milking when she was out in the pasture and everybody else would troop along as well. Actually, I use a middle G/C note when I call, and that’s what they really respond to. Most of them have two-syllable names, so it doesn’t much matter whether I’m calling Maybelle, Dixie, Holly, Ruby or something derogatory, as long as I hit the right notes.

  5. Elva permalink
    February 11, 2015 9:50 am

    That looks like a beautiful manger system that you have. I want to build something similar this summer to prepare for next winter.

  6. sherry permalink
    February 11, 2015 5:09 pm

    We just have a hobby farm with a couple of goats, a donkey, a pig and some chickens and ducks. When I call chick-ENS! everybody comes!

  7. Susan permalink
    February 11, 2015 6:17 pm

    You should let us caption your pictures sometimes. Cause the cow in the first one has a look on its face like “Alfalfa! We’ve been eating alfalfa!” (in the vein of Gary Larson…)

  8. Carrie permalink
    February 12, 2015 5:32 am

    MOH did you ‘borrow’: “Mmm, Foodbringer approaching, act grateful until they leave.” from Larson? If not, it’s a shame he’s retired as he’d craft you a splendid cartoon to go with that quip!

    • February 12, 2015 5:45 am

      No, but I love those cartoons, he pretty much had dogs and cows down. I wish he hadn’t retired 😦


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