If you watched the video from our Fall Virtual Open House this year, you may have noticed an addition to our large bale feeder. During the summer, we added a hoop barn structure over the large bale feeder.
The number one question we received from producers was "why didn't you cover the large bale feeder?" Originally, we used a large bale tarp and would roll the tarp back as the feeder moved. The tarp worked, but not as well as we would have liked. It was a hassle to deal with after it rained, but it wasn't too big of a problem. However, when the rain would freeze and create puddles of ice frozen on top of it, it was aggravating to deal with. We would only put 4-8 bales in the feeder, so once the cows ate it, we'd replace it with more so that there wouldn't be too much rain or snow on the hay. We weren't fully utilizing the structure for what it was intended to do.
In the summer, we baled the hay and took it straight from the field and loaded it into the feeder. We took the strings off the bales and haven't touched it since. With the hoop structure added, we can keep 32 roll bales in the feeder. This structure now functions as both a storage facility and a feeding facility.
We're now able to use this facility more efficiently and don't have to worry about hay waste. Are the cattle going to loaf in it more? We expect yes. They might create more mess on the concrete but the waste and mess they created before was almost non-existent, so we don't think it will be significant enough that it'll cause a problem.
We're excited to put cows here this winter and to see how big of a part it'll play in our winter feeding operation.