When we first released information on our fenceline feeders, we never thought producers from all over the country would be interested in what a farm in Kentucky was doing. What we found most interesting was the amount of interested producers from other countries including Canada, England, Switzerland, and Australia.
Back in July, Karinne Gelderman, a cattle producer in Australia, sent us pictures of the fenceline feeder she implemented on her farm. Much like in the US, the beef cattle industry plays a large part in Australia's agriculture and overall economy. Australia is home to 26.4 million head of cattle, with 41,800 agricultural businesses involved in the cattle industry. They produce 3% of the world's beef supply and are the third largest beef exporter in the world. More than 77% of the total agricultural land in Australia is managed by farms with beef cattle, and around 50% of all Australian farms have beef cattle.
Karinne was gracious enough to share some more information on her design and how she adapted the design and materials of the fenceline feeder to better fit her farm.
Name: Karinne Gelderman (Berdihold Limousin Stud)
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
Herd Size: 40 breeders
Class of Cattle: Stud cattle (Limousins)
Q. How did you first hear about Eden Shale Farm?
A. Online on Facebook
Q. What project did you implement on your farm?
A. Fenceline feeder
Q. Is this the first project you have implemented from Eden Shale Farm?
Q. Is there anything you changed when implementing this practice? (i.e., layout, design, size, any additions, etc.)
A. Changes were made due to not having the same sort of location (top of a hill / slope). We have done landscaping and also sloped the concrete to allow water to run off. We have had quite a bit of rain and it is working well. We also cannot purchase the pre-fabricated panels in Australia that you used so we made our own. Due to COVID it was going to take too long to import anything. We decided to make all of the panels the same to made it easier to manufacture. The panels are quick and easy to remove in case something manages to get inside the feeder. Each panel is flat & is 1.4m x 1.1m (4.6ft x 3.6ft) tall including the bows. The bows are made of 32mm round bar x 3mm thick walls. The rectangular frame is 500mm high and is made of 50mm square tube. The sheet metal covering the rectangular frame is 2mm thick. Each panel was hot dipped galvanized. The concrete pad is at least 3m wider than the feeder at all points for them to stand on and it is stamped so that they don't slip. The pad for the bale is 100mm (about 4 in.) higher than the pad that the cattle stand on. The total cost was less than $6000 including the concrete which was $1,500.
Q. If you have used this practice, what do you like most? What would you change?
A. It has been used for a few months now and the feeder itself is working really well. We had put gravel where the concrete pad meets the paddock and that gravel has worn away a bit. I think this is more because we started using the feeder as soon as it was installed and didn't compact it enough. When the paddock dries up a bit more, we will put more gravel down and compact it better.
Q. What would you recommend for other producers that wish to implement this practice?
A. The fenceline feeder has saved so much time and I'm not getting bogged everyday in the paddocks. I'd recommend that other people set theirs up before next winter! I'd probably tell others to know what sized bales they normally use before manufacture. We commonly feed 8x4x3 bales but on rare occasions use 8x4x4 so we made sure that the bales could easily fit in the feeder.
Q. Would you recommend Eden Shale Farm resources to others?
A. Yes, the Eden Shale Facebook page & the newsletters are really interesting and make you think of better ways to do things.
If I were to sum up the activity at Eden Shale Farm the past two months with one word it would be “Construction”. The good weather has been conducive to construction projects so we have made the most of it. There are many different projects that we have been working on and I will share those throughout the winter in subsequent articles. For this month I want to highlight a rather simple concept that I believe will make a big difference for the cattle come March and April.
In a previous article I talked about the complete renovation of the Bull Barn facility, including a new flooring option called Mechanical Concrete®. This is created by taking truck tires and cutting both sidewalls out leaving the tread cylinder. You can read more about this flooring option on our blog. https://www.edenshalefarm.com/blog/barn-flooring-options-part-3
Dr. Higgins decided to try this new product out and see if we could eliminate a common problem he calls “Cow Touring”. Cow touring occurs when there are numerous cow paths very close together leading to a common area. We tend to have them where the cows are coming up to the heavy traffic pads to winter feed. These areas get rutted up with deep mud and can be too extreme for the new calves to traverse in the springtime. At times the mud was so bad, that we literally had to drive the pairs off the hardened feed pad because they didn’t want to attempt the steep muddy terrain.
Our solution to this is a cow path made with Mechanical Concrete®. To construct this, we took an excavator and cut a trench just deep and wide enough to hold the tread cylinders. We put non-woven geotextile fabric in the bottom of the trench and then laid the cut tires in the trench end to end. Once all the tires were laid down, we backfilled the trench with dense grade aggregate (DGA). Then we compacted the path with a walk behind plate compactor as the final step. The goal is to make the path as firm and stable as possible.
What this creates is a hardened path that has lateral stability due to the tires, so that when the path is wet it supports the weight of the cattle traffic. The tires also give the path stability going up the steep slope so that rain water runoff won’t erode the gravel away from the path.
We created a hardened path for the cows to use to get to their hay during the wet winter months. I anticipate the cows and calves to use this Mechanical Concrete® pathway allowing them to avoid the deep mud on a steep approach to the winter-feeding area.
Keep following our blog to see how this project holds up with cattle on it during the wet winter months!