Animal Husbandry- Doing What it Takes

As a farmer with livestock I feel it is my responsibility to do whatever it takes to try to keep my animals in the best of health.  Part of raising livestock is dealing with reproduction and the difficulties that may arise. Nature is not perfect, even with the best preparation, things we do not like, happen. Injuries, abnormalities, and even death can occur during the reproduction process. Having good animal husbandry means we need to deal with it the best we can and error in favor of the animal.

At Burnin R Farms we raise Pigs, Cows, Chickens, and Horses. Having babies is how we increase our herd and have stock to sell. Sometimes Mothers do not accept their babies and we need to bottle feed them until they take to solid food. There are times that we need to take in a baby that was injured and bottle feed it until it is healthy. The babies are our livelihood, their survival is very important to our business, but it is more than that. Our love for the animals makes us do whatever it takes to help an animal in need that is under our care.  When a farm gets too big to feel that need, then I believe that business stops being a farm.

New Babies Just Born
New Babies Just Born

We had 2 litters of pigs born within minutes of each other.  Due to weather coming in we decided to pen and shelter them together.  Unfortunately,  due to the mothers size and the number of babies, a couple were injured. Several babies were stepped on, one had skin torn away from its hip, another received a swollen and sore leg. It was our duty as the animal’s caretaker to do what we could to heal both babies. We are bottle feeding both, we stitched the one up and continue to rest the other. Both seem to be doing well and will eventually return to their litter at weaning.

This attitude towards the treatment of animals is the glue that has held many small farms together. Saving one animal can mean earning a profit on that litter or breeding. Even though almost all of our livestock will eventually enter the food market, while they are in our care they will be taken care of to the best of our ability. These  values  are lost within most big ag corporate farms, so I am proud to be on a small farm. If you support these values, it gives you one more reason to support your local farm.

 


 

 

 

 

 

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Hay and The Window of Opportunity

 

Spring Pasture
Loving green grass again

 

 

 

 

 

 

One farm task in the spring has more to do with winter than spring. Every small farm handles hay in some form or another. The current  popular method is baling large round bales to feed to livestock, but the method has changed considerably with the advances in technology. In order to have enough feed for the winter, hay must be put up starting in the spring.

We use hay to feed our horses, cows, and  on occasion our pigs. With the horses, the old standard small square bale is the easiest and best version of hay bale for us to use. This old standard is also the most time consuming and labor intensive bale to produce. Each 60 lb. plus bale is handled at least 7 times by hand. From the baler, to the trailer, to the hay loft, to the animal, this bale is mostly handled by hand.

Hay Handling
Hay Handling

When baling hay you have to find a window of opportunity, a span of several dry warm days to complete the process. There is no formula to follow or exact times to go by, the hay dries according to the weather. We have to plan according to past experience and hope the weather that is forecasted stays true.

 

 

 

 

Mowing with Old Tractor
Mowing with Old Tractor

Last night we started cutting our hay. We saw that we had 5 days with sun, not super hot but a span of dry days. The longer we wait the more the grass matures, if the grass forms a seed head then the protein content drops. Our goal is to be able to put up hay with the most protein as possible. That is not always easy to do when you have to find a window of opportunity with no rain, when the ground is not saturated from recent rain, and when there is sun to dry and cure the grass into hay.

Tonight we will continue to cut our pastures. We will also rake and turn the hay that has started to dry today. Since we only have evenings during the week to work, we will be both cutting and raking in stages over several days. We started cutting on Tuesday and plan to actually bale the hay on Saturday.

Raking Hay
Raking Hay

 

It is a lot of work, but completely satisfying to know you have food going into winter. Plus there is no better olfactory stimulation on the farm than the smell of fresh cut grass curing into hay.

Check back for updates on how our first hay cutting progresses.