The fence line feeding system that Dr. Higgins designed is now installed and ready for use at ESF. The last gates have been hung and the structures are waiting for colder weather and the need to feed hay.
The site location was selected due to its close proximity to the hay storage facilities and the natural wind break that the adjacent woods provide. The overall management and flow of the cattle was also considered.
Construction started in September to layout and "design" the as built version of these structures. Our contractor (Jackson Construction) did an excellent job of building the five different designs side by side so that we can compare and contrast the functionality of each feeder.
After having to hand dig a few post holes due to rock all the post got set and the footers for the concrete were set in place.
If you don't have any experience doing concrete work and you plan to pour during the hot part of the year, make sure you schedule your concrete to show up early in the morning while it is still cool out. It makes the help much more enjoyable to be around!
In this picture you can see the geo grid that was used as the final footing layer. It was covered up with DGA but the grid is filled in with the rock leaving the integrity of the grid as the surface that handles the weight of the cattle.
Once the concrete cured the feeding panels were installed and the wooden feeders constructed. Gravel was spread around the feeders according to the finish grade.
We installed feed panels between the hay feeders so that we can add feed bunks and have the ability to supplement the cows if they require it,
Now that the structures are complete we plan to record how many bales are fed through each feeder and how many cattle are fed using the structures. We will then evaluate the structures in the spring to determine how they performed overall, including cattle preference, hay waste, and required maintenance.
Before the structures were used we created a video with Dr. Higgins talking about the design features of each structure and the benefit of implementing a fence line feeding system. Jacob Redway (the new KCA communications manager) visited the farm and helped us shoot footage for the video.
Now that we have the footage collected for the installation and the initial assessment of the feeders, be on the look out for the video that discusses these systems in more detail. Once the spring arrives we will document the outcomes of using these feeders all winter and be able to make assessments of each design.
Eden Shale Farm had their annual open house on Saturday October 15th, 2016. There were about 30 producers in attendance of the event. The day started out with a brief introduction and some important history of Eden Shale Farm given by Dan Miller, Kentucky Beef Network Industry Coordinator. Participants then were asked to go on a tour of the farm.
The first stop was at one of the most recent changes at the farm; what used to be the old dairy barn has now been transformed into a maternity barn. Dr. Steve Higgins from the University of Kentucky accompanied by Dan Miller gave some facts about the new barn. They explained that the floor was redone, bedding was put down and a structure was added to feed hay from. The importance of these renovations is all for the benefit of the cows. The floors made a better ground than the previous concrete to provide more support and less temperature variables for those calving cows. The feeding structure was positioned so multiple fields could access this one structure from different sides, angles and pastures.
Moving along in the tour we also discussed one of the most recent water harvesting techniques Dr. Higgins has designed. This system uses above ground tanks to hold water collected from the roof of the maternity barn. The water is then gravity fed into a tire waterer with shade balls to keep out some of the heat in the summer and assist in reducing freezing in the winter. Next we loaded back onto the wagons and moved to the weaning barn and looked at another water harvesting system using a solar powered pump and cisterns which moved into an above ground water tank which then gravity fed into another tire waterer.
As the tour proceeded we made a couple of stops on the way to see the current herd. One of these stops was at the winter feeding pasture where different types of structures have been built to determine which would be the most durable and cost efficient for feeding cattle. This winter will be the first trial of this experiment so stay tuned for those results!
Our last stop on the tour was where the current herd is located. We got the chance to look through the herd and Dan talked about the genetic changes they were trying to make in the herd through an Artificial Insemination (AI) protocol. He also explained why Eden Shale Farm’s herd was not a complete registered herd of cattle. Eden Shale’s mission is to be like the average producer, a commercial herd. While trying to be a typical producer they try to publish data farmers can use on their own herds. On the way back to the main field day barn we got the opportunity to hear from Scott Flynn, who is a representative of Dow Agrosciences. Scott talked about different trials of herbicides to control weed growth on the farm, which intrigued farmers on a production standpoint.
Once back at the field day barn lunch was served and Dan gave the production report for the farm. This is the first year a production report had been given. Within this report there were statistics from each year Eden Shale has been under the Kentucky Beef Network on basic production numbers and improvements. Reproduction and conception rates, weaning rates and weights were all a part of this report. All in all the Open House was a great day to learn about Eden Shale Farm and for producers to take some knowledge back to their own operations!
Hello, my name is Dan Miller and I work for the Kentucky Beef Network. KBN took over operation of the Eden Shale Farm in April of 2013. We are using the 961 acre farm as a demonstration and learning center for beef cattle producers. This blog serves as a place to document daily farm activity and host discussions about the demonstrations being implemented. I hope you find this information useful and that you come visit us at Eden Shale Farm.