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!