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.
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