Round bales of hay are a staple at TurkeyCrest farm, typically from December through mid-April. A number of best practices call for minimizing the number of hay bales fed, relying on pastures of stockpiled grass. We have one neighbor who is an expert at this, he rarely feeds hay to his cattle and grazes pastures all winter long. His cattle are healthy and happy. However, we are in the group of many farmers that feed hay throughout the winter months.
There are many methods to feed hay to cattle, including unrolling, hay rings and feeders. We like to unroll bales to spread out the hay on the ground, giving all of the cattle easy access and avoiding the lowest cows in the pecking order from being crowded out. Unrolling also avoids the moats of knee deep mud that are unavoidable with stationary rings and feeders.
Every morning, we feed the main herd in the Mountain Field first. There is definitely a pecking order with the cows, so we always unroll a long line so everyone has space to eat.
After the cows get their feed, we unroll hay for the heifers in the South field. Here, everyone gets along better so there is not as much pushing for the best position.
There is always a stub left over after unrolling bales for the cattle. I save the stubs for the other animals. Sundance gets hay from the best bales.
The pig and goats get the leftovers, which they love!
Sammie, my miniature pig, is a late sleeper in cold weather. He gets apples, bread and kibble so does not mind letting the goats have the hay.
Fingers crossed this was the last snow of the winter!