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Bale Grazing Saves Money, Reduces Labor
By the end of November, Neil Boyd has most of his winter-feeding chores nearly finished. Big round bales are lined up across his 40-acre winter-feeding pasture with a unique electric cross-fencing system that gives his 100 beef cows access to six 800-lb. bales at a time.
  The Fairview, Alberta, Canada, grain and beef producer says he's been tweaking his bale grazing system for 10 years.
  "I don't have to start machinery up in the winter, to plow snow or haul hay. All I have to do is move a wire," Boyd explains. "Another important thing is that the manure stays in the pasture rather than in the corral."
  The labor savings begin with baling. Instead of hauling and stacking bales back at the farm, Boyd keeps his large bales in the hay field until October or November, when he moves them to the winter pasture and lines them up for bale grazing. Each group of six bales is about 30 ft. apart with the "faces" in the same direction. The surface with twine - Boyd uses sisal, which decomposes - touches the ground.
  Boyd divides his pasture in four long sections with electric fences of high-tensile wire. The bales serve as posts for temporary fencing in the opposite direction. Sharpened 6-ft. fiberglass posts are jabbed horizontally about 1 1/2 ft. into the face of the bale. Boyd attaches poly wire to insulators on the other ends of the posts and connects the wire to the high-tensile wire rows in the pasture. The wire creates a fence to keep the cows away from that set of bales, while they eat six other bales. After two days, Boyd pulls the posts and wires out of the bales and the cows eat them. He restrings the wire in the bales two rows away.
  "I have two rows of wire," Boyd explains. "In case the cattle break through one fence, there is another one to stop them."
  In two days the cattle clean up all the hay. When it's very cold, Boyd moves the fence more often.
  "In 2006 we had 5 ft. of snow and we were able to feed with this system," Boyd says. His cows eat snow for water and find protection from the wind in the trees and brush. He uses bale grazing from January to June.
  Boyd's methods, along with ideas from four other Canadian producers, are detailed in a downloadable booklet on www.areca.ab.ca, the site for the Agricultural Research and Extension Council of Alberta. The information is free and valuable to anyone raising beef in regions with snow, Havens says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Amber Havens, Peace Country Beef & Forage Association, P. O. Box 3000, Fairview, Alberta, Canada T0H 1L0 (ph 780 835-6799;
amberh@nait.ca; www.areca.ab.ca).

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2007 - Volume #31, Issue #6