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Additional Deep Bedding Maintenance

March 21, 2015

As the name implies, deep bedding is an apt description. That’s the idea, you are capturing as much manure and urine with carbon as you can, while you’re resting your pasture.

See that gate in the back?  It’s mounted high with a hog panel attached at the bottom to accommodate the bedding buildup and to keep folks in…yes, cows go under things too, besides over.  Enamored with the idea of Polyface Farm’s feeding shed we decided that might work here too, so we built this simple shed onto our existing haybarn.  Logs and telephone poles, oh my.  Poor boy building at its best.  Especially if you’re a little skeptical if the idea will work or not.

rub log

rub log

Besides making the feeder gate moveable so it could accommodate the bedding buildup and allow the cows to eat comfortably, we needed to install the rub log in sort of the same manner.

The rub logs in this barn in the photo above are fixed, and since the barn is sided with wood siding we don’t allow the bedding to build up.  But rub logs or something similar are pretty important in the feeding shed to keep the cows in, or from knocking over the cattle panels we have installed as a makeshift fence.

rub log

rub log

Certainly logs or poles are stronger than dimensional lumber too, and in our case we have them on hand.  In case you’re wondering…there is a fence in that blackberry hedge but it’s hard to maintain due the fact it is a shared fence line with a neighbor.  But back to the log, and the raising it as the bedding builds up.  Too low and somebody will get knocked over it during horseplay or fighting.  Don’t ask me how I know this.  The cows buck and kick and fight in here all the time even though they are basically getting along.  The log is a simple, inexpensive solution to a problem.

The forty-foot log is attached to the plate with three heavy-duty chains, one at each end and one in the middle to distribute the weight.

When I see the log only at hock height on the cows, it’s time to raise it.  If we leave it too low, someone (someone meaning a cow) will get knocked over it and possibly get hurt, or if it’s too high a calf can squirt right under it.  In the course of the winter feeding period the log may need raising several times.  Right now the bedding is almost three feet deep as indicated by the hog panel attached to the end gate.

Raising the log could be done with a tractor with a loader or forks, or the simplest way is to use a come-along.  It takes all of five minutes. Usually raising the middle first, then one end is all that is required.

Attach the come-along at the top near the plate.

Then attach at the bottom.

Then start ratcheting the log up until you reach the desired height.  Re-attach the chain hooks in the appropriate place and you’re done.

The beauty of the simplicity in materials is that it is low-cost, and multi-use.  If we ever decide to use this shed for something else, the log could always be firewood or…

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2015 11:06 am

    Lol My hubby has realised that he needs to raise the gate so that he can shut it in winter with the deep bedding for our alpacas. We haven’t need to close it, but if there was ever a problem and we needed to isolate one of our girls we wouldn’t be able to without a lot of serious excavating. Not as serious as 3ft though that’s for sure. Thank goodness for tractors

    • March 21, 2015 11:09 am

      It is kind of amazing how fast it builds up, we’ve tried lots of different methods, so far less is more. I don’t even want to think about how much fencing has been mangled in this project over the years 😦

  2. March 21, 2015 7:27 pm

    I stumbled across your blog and would love to invite you to join Homestead Bloggers Network. It’s free and a great support group for those of us who tackle both – computers and chicken coops. 🙂 You can check it out here –

  3. March 21, 2015 9:44 pm

    Nita, how big is your feeding shed (both halves), and how many cows do you over-winter there? It’s beautiful; I need to do something like it. I started this question with yesterday’s post – looks like the shed is at least 40′ long ;-). You’ve no idea how useful your blog is! Thank you, again!

    • March 22, 2015 6:00 am

      Marilyn, good eye! It is 40′ long and 20′ feet wide. The hay storage area is 40′ x 40′ with twin shed on each side. One we use for firewood, stock trailer etc., and the other is the cow shed. I’ve had as many as 25 of mixed ages in there for the winter. That was a little too crowded in my opinion.

  4. March 22, 2015 6:57 pm

    Do you realize how fascinating this kind of thing is to townfolk like me? Well, a lot. A lot fascinating. Thanks.

  5. March 24, 2015 4:57 am

    You mentioned that your feeding shed was inspired by Joel Salatin’s methods. Could you tell me which of his books, DVD or whatever contains information about the how and why of the feeding shed design?

  6. April 3, 2015 1:27 pm

    I am so pleased to see clean well managed cattle….your rub log is an awesome idea and totally well thought out. In our land search Ralph and I have seen a lot of gates hung low to the ground without thought to [a] sag and [b] ground or bedding build up. I always hung my gates high and on heavy hinges, well braced against sag and on pinned, ofset hinges so a cow cannot lift the gate off the hinges. I am so glad to have found your blog!

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