Judy and I fed 225 replacement dairy heifers for Parker Vandivort, a friend and neighbor of ours, a few weeks ago and are quite intrigued with his method of feeding grain to the cattle. He is raising the heifers for a dairyman on a gain-per-head basis and the program requires the gains to be fairly constant. With the extremely hot and dry summer we’re experiencing, it’s been necessary for him to grain the heifers to keep them gaining weight. But it takes a lot of expensive bunks to feed this many heifers, and when you’re rotating them from paddock to paddock, moving the bunks can be a real hassle.
Parker has come up with a neat way to feed the heifers without using bunks. He uses a cattle cube feeder on the truck and unloads the grain right along the edge of a one wire electric fence. The chute where the grain unloads skims along right above the top of the wire, and while he pulls a rope to raise the chute at each post, he said he sometimes misses and hits the post, but it doesn’t hurt the post, as it just flexes and bounces back.
The heifers clean the grain up well and by moving the feeding location keeps the grain on fresh ground with no manure contamination. Parker said he was worried about how the ground was laid bare when he fed, but was reassured he wasn’t damaging the sod when he saw grass grow back quickly on those patches, looking like it had been heavily fertilized.