The construction projects at the farm have continued up into December. We poured concrete on December 10th and that will have all of the projects completed.
During this construction season we completed one of our largest long term projects, the complete renovation of the bull barn (our main cattle barn and working facility). This project first started in September 2015 with the expanding of a heavy traffic pad lot beside the barn, the addition of a water harvesting system which captures rainwater from the roof, and a large 8 foot tire water tank.
Then in July 2017 we modified the ventilation in the barn by cutting out a 12 inch section of metal at the top of the wall just below the rafters. We also cut out large blocks of metal siding that allowed much higher air flows and increased sunlight across the floor of the barn. Both of these improvements proved helpful in keeping the bedding in the pens drier and the air less stagnant.
In September 2019 we added a covered manure stack pad to be able to store all the manure that this facility would create. That same month we renovated four of the existing pens. That renovation included four different flooring treatments (concrete block, GeoGrid, tire cylinders, GeoWeb), all new panels and gates, and the addition of two fence line feeders that each service two pens. We also replaced two old rusted out Ritchie water tanks with a new Ritchie open trough style waterer, and a Cobett single hole water tank.
In October 2020 we started the last phase of the Bull Barn Renovation project. During this last phase we renovated the floor in the last two cattle holding pens. In the first pen we used the GeoGrid that we had used previously, but this time we added a drainage system underneath of the gravel. This is the same style of drainage that is used on sports fields to move the water away quickly. The drain pipe is 6 inches wide and 1 inch thick and it lays flat on the floor. It comes in a roll and you lay it out and it can be cut easily with a utility knife. We found this product to be easier to work with than other drainage pipe that we had used in the past.
In the last pen we implemented the heavy traffic pad technique. We laid down geotextile fabric and covered it with 8 inches of dense grade aggregate (DGA). We then compacted the gravel by soaking the gravel with water and using a vibrating roller to create maximum compaction. Once compacted and dried, the pen is very hard and will stand up to the pressure from the cattle’s hooves giving the pen an extended life. We do know that the heavy traffic pad pen will need the most maintenance over time, but we wanted to be able to highlight those differences in a side by side comparison within the same barn.
These two newly renovated pens also share a new Fenceline Feeding System hay feeder. This feeder is the same design as the two previously installed Fenceline Feeders in the barn. With this addition we will be able to feed hay to 6 different groups of cattle at once all within the same barn.
The last step in this phase of renovation was to add a small 4 foot tire waterer. This new tire waterer replaced an old, malfunctioning Ritchie water tank. This new tire water tank will allow multiple head to drink at once, while also having extremely good durability against both the livestock and the skid steer scraping the pens.
I wish to give full credit and many Thanks to Dr. Steve Higgins with the University of Kentucky. Without his continued vision of making things more efficient we would not have been able to make this multiyear renovation a success. His visionary mindset, tireless work ethic, and ability to apply unique technology are unmatched anywhere in the country. I look forward to collaborating with Dr. Higgins on many more projects in the future.