Rotational grazing structure
Radio interview source: Steve Higgins, Director of Animal Compliance, University of Kentucky
Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below
Some cattle producers have to sacrifice a pasture for the mud and muck of late winter feeding. Steve Higgins is the director of animal compliance at the University of Kentucky. He recommends that small producers build an elevated rotational grazing structure just for feeding. "It's about a 40-foot-by-40-foot concrete pad, and then it's got a center section that's approximately 8-feet-wide, and about 30-feet long," Higgins says. "That's an elevated concrete pad as well, and it's about six-inches tall. So, this center section elevates the hay that you're going to put in there and it gets it out of that mud and that muck that's going to be created in this feeding area."
The structure is meant for a herd size between 20-and-40-animals. If your herd is larger, Higgins says to break it down into manageable groups so you're using one structure to feed multiple smaller herds. The idea is for them to eat, then leave.
The structure should be located near your hay storage so you don't have to go very far to load up the feeding rack. "The rack is designed to feed this herd for about 3-5 days, so you don't have to drive very far. You're not going out into the field and creating a lot of mud and rutting up your pastures," Higgins says. "And you're not having to deal with putting out row bales around ring feeders, and you're not taking a hay trailer out there. But you're also not creating these congregation areas around those ring feeders where these animals are creating a lot of mud."
Because the pad areas are concrete, you can easily scrape up the manure when necessary. It should be easily accessible, and located away from water resources to avoid run-off contamination. Higgins recommends contacting your local Natural Resources Conservation Service for guidance.
Here are plans for a rotational grazing structure.
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