Life on a cattle ranch is usually different every day, but in the winter months one thing that is pretty consistent is feeding.


Our area got pretty lucky with a nice fall green-up this year, and many ranches didn't have to start full feeding all of the cows & heifers until just recently. 

A full feeding is when every group of cows gets their daily requirement of forage from hay that is fed to them.  A partial feeding is when the guys feed a percentage of the forage requirement, and the cows graze the remainder. 

At Double M, they had some groups that into December had enough grass in the pastures that their entire daily forage requirement was provided, and no hay was needed.

But now that we're in January, all groups are being fed a full feeding each day.
Holding off on not having to full feed everything later into the year saved resources; obviously the cost of hay - since you're not feeding it and cows are out grazing grass that's already there, but also labor & time.  Now that they guys are full feeding every group, there are three feed trucks running each day, with two people per feed truck - one to drive, and one to flake hay.  Feeding usually takes each team a few hours, to get around to all of the groups.

Sometimes when the ranch is short people, the guys will feed by themselves.  (Unfortunately, a lot of ranchers have to do this every day.....Double M has enough crew that it's a rare occurence.)   They'll choke the throttle so the truck doesn't need someone to push on the gas pedal, put it in low and strap a bungi-cord to the steering wheel so that the truck drives straight.  Once the truck is started, the guy jumps onto the deck and starts to flake hay - all the while hoping that the truck drives straight, doesn't hit anything (or any calves) and doesn't go over any big bumps.  You can see why they try to avoid doing this; but honestly, some days it has to happen. 

The guys also check cattle for sickness while they're out feeding.  Usually the driver does this, since they have a good view and aren't distracted by flaking hay.  This is one of the most efficient times of day to check health since all of the cattle come to the feed truck.....if one doesn't come, or comes slowly, or with an ear down, you know that something is up. 

So the trucks will keep rolling and the hay will continue to be flaked, with the end goal of a cow in proper condition when she gets turned out this spring.

And by then, the guys have usually had their fill of feeding every day, and are usually ready to park the trucks and open the gates!


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