How we use our LS Feeder.

I've mentioned it on the blog before, but both Clint and I have full time day jobs and run a few cows on the side.  Well....Clint runs a few cows and I help where needed.  :)

Because his job takes him away from home from anywhere from a few days to a week +, we have invested in our "purple feeders" which are feeders that allow us to load multiple bales of hay into them, allowing cows access to feed at any time but in a way that reduces waste, labor and if desired limits the quantity of desirable feed (alfalfa hay) in a ratio to less desirable feed (grass straw).

These feeders aren't cheap, but we feel the convenience of them is totally worth it to us.  If I'm being very honest; and I try to be that way - I don't want to come home at night in the winter, and have to juggle two toddlers and feed cows by myself.  It's too much, and there are too many variables.  I know there are lots of people who do that - and I commend them, but we don't have the facilities or land to be able to drive out into a pasture, put the pickup in 4x4 low, ask the kids to stay inside and run out and hop onto the back as I flake hay while the pickup crawls along in a wide open pasture with no chance of getting the pickup stuck.  :)

So we use these feeders.  And love them.

I thought today on the blog I'd show you kind of how they work.  LS has a lot of great videos on YouTube - just search "LS Feeders".  I would especially do this if you're a larger commercial operation with a tractor, you can really see how to use these feeders on a large scale.

Since we're not big time and don't own a tractor, I'll show you how we use our little Bobcat skidsteer and the larger LS feeder to feed about 40 cows for a week in about 30 minutes.

And yes - our cows need poured - we have had the nicest winter weather this year but our cows our rubbing bad because of it!

Clint brings the bales in pairs from our stack, since that's all out Bobcat can lift.  He has it figured out how to flip them over so that when they land in the feeder, the knots are up and it's easy for me to cut and pull strings.  The hardest bale to land is the first one - since it needs to be in the middle and our Bobcat doesn't reach that far.  You can see in the pictures above, but Clint flips it in the air versus letting it drop/slide off of the forks into place and it's about a 50/50 chance how it will land.

 The picture above shows what he didn't want to happen - the bale landed wide side down, but it was ok since the other 4 landed short side down and he was able to get 5 total bales in with plenty of space for me to cut strings. 

If you cram the bales in, or are like me and load them willy nilly, or if you stack them 2 high before you cut strings, it's ok but it's tougher to pull the strings out.  You could totally just cut the strings and leave them, but we don't prefer that.  You could also cut the strings and tie them to the feeder.

Doesn't Clint have the cutest little helper below?


Once the strings are cut, the cows come in and push the feeder panel until it meets the hay. They have to eat what is in front of them before they can push more.  If we wanted to feed alfalfa with the grass straw bales, we would just make a pattern with the bales in the feeder.  Because of the number of cows we have in this pasture and only one LS feeder, we want all cows to have access to alfalfa (instead of boss cows hogging the alfalfa and making junior cows only eat grass straw) and feed it on the ground once every third day.  I can do that on my lunch, or leaving a few minutes early from work so that is doable for us. 

Last winter, when we had fewer cows at home around the feeder we would load both types of hay and it worked great.  There was a two week period where Clint was gone (and we were calving) and I never had to feed once. 

That is what I call WINNING AS A RANCH WIFE.  :)

The picture above is before Clint loaded any bales in; but it shows how much hay is "wasted".  Not very much, in my opinion. Prior to this Saturday, he had loaded the feeder the Monday before with 5 grass straw bales before he headed to Red Bluff.  He fed one alfalfa bale on the ground first thing Tuesday morning before he left, and then I fed another alfalfa bale on the ground Friday afternoon and Clint came home Saturday and we reloaded the feeder.  This is what remained - pretty effective in our opinion.

So that's how we use our LS feeder at our place.  We REALLY like them, and while we understand that they are not the cheapest feeder we really feel like they are a good investment and are well built!

There are a lot of different ways to use the feeders that I haven't even begun to touch on (our friend Morgan uses them like bunks, etc.), some things to be aware of (like placing them on an area of ground that is stable enough for their usage) and the many different sizes/capacities and ways to load the feeders.  If you had any other questions; Clint's always happy to talk cattle equipment.  :)


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