Thursday, February 11, 2010

How We Feed Our Calves

Back in the fall when Caleb was selling some corn that we had stored in a bin, he discovered we had a problem. Ya see when we had harvested the corn in ’08 it was a little wet so we placed it in the grain bin to blow air through it and dry it down. But evidently we didn’t get it as dry as it needed to be and it heated up and burnt the corn. Now when I say it burnt the corn, I don’t mean that the kernels caught fire and are now ashes, I mean that it heated up and changed the color of the kernel and it also gives a slight odor to the corn, which is not good when you are tying to sell it, cause it there is a smell at all then the grain elevator (where we sell our grain) won't take it. (Caleb wanted me to add this about the burnt corn- Luckily the bin wasn't completely full of burnt corn. There was a 'black tower', as Caleb called, in the middle of the bin where the corn got hot. They got a lot of the good corn out before the tower fell over and mixed in with the rest of the corn)
As you can see there is a huge difference in the burnt and the way it should look. We didn't have many options with what to do with it now, we could sell it to a local feed yard where they would feed it to their cattle, but we weren’t' gonna get much a price for it, so that wasn't gonna happen. Since we weren't far from weaning calves in the fall it would be worth more to us if we used it to feed to our claves.

So along with feeding hay to our cattle herds we have also been feeing our weaned calves to put some weight on them before we sell them.

Grinding corn and feeding our calves is a large process.
First you have to get everything hooked up...
...I seriously don't know what farmers did before they had bailing wire. I don't know how a farm could run without it!!
Next you need some juice to make the augers run.
We have two different augers that are used for this. One brings the corn out of the grain bin,
and the other takes the corn up to the grinder.
When the corn starts to get low in the bin, some one has to get in there and shovel it to the middle where the auger takes it out.
He's trying to get a good look at it here to see if there are still a lot of burnt kernels in the corn.

If you notice on the grinder there three little windows on the side of the grinder, those are how you tell how full the grinder is. 
After it is full you stop and smile for you wife cause she said so and that's that! haha
Next you have to crank the un-loading auger up so you can unload the desired amount in the tub mixer (which is the big red thing in the background)
The tub mixer is used to grind up a large hay bale and mix it with what ever supplement you want to feed to you livestock. That screen shows you the weight of what ever you place inside of it. Right now we have only placed one large hay bale in there.
Next the freshly ground feed goes in. I think Caleb puts in about 700-800 lbs of ground feed. You base your amount on how much you want each animal on average to eat each day.
Some of you might ask why we go through the trouble of grinding the feed, why not just feed them the whole kernel? The answer is simple; the cattle just process it better. They get more of the good out of the corn. If they were to eat the whole kernel you would have a lot of whole kernels coming out the other end and that's not good!
On days we don't grind feed we get 20 27 - 5 gal buck fulls (I think) and place them in the tractors' loader bucket.
Then you dump it into the mixer with the tractor. You also use the tractor to put the large round bale into the mixer.
Next we place about 500 lbs of water in to the mixer.  This helps the corn, hay and whatever else you might have placed in there all stick together. If you notice as the water is going in there it dust flying everywhere in the tub.
This is what the finished product looks like.
This is how much it weighs when we are done and it will feed our group of calves for two days
After it’s all mixed we take it down to the babies who are waiting impatiently for their breakfast.
I don't know what they see in it, but they think it tastes good and crowd around as the tractor is unloading it.
The unloading arm extends back and forth so you hopefully don't spill over the side of the feed bunk.
Once we are done it is time to dig-in!
Like I said I sure don't know what they see in it, but it sure does make them taste a lot better when they eat this stuff!!
"Beef it's what's for Dinner!"


  1. It's neat learning about another side of farming that we don't participate in!

  2. Very informative, thanks for sharing!

  3. The same thing happens to sunflowers but we call it dark roast. Flowers are so hard to store because they get hot pockets just like corn and can ruin many pounds in a short time.