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Shoveling Shit

December 11, 2010


Image via Wikipedia

Beef Cattle require shit shoveling manure removal-

Well, dear reader, after reading that title you probably thought I would be ranting about warshington in this post. But no, we are anticipating a fair amount of snow this evening, and a deep freeze following that, which means that folks that raise cattle will be bringing them in, or “shutting them in” – that is, keeping those big animals inside the barn for the near term.  In order to keep them comfortable, and healthy, the barn ought to be clean.  And that means getting all the shit manure out of there.

Manure is conserved, spread on field

The manure is efficiently removed by use of a skid loader, learn more here. This machine, with its large front mounted scoop,

Skid steer Loader

A skid loader makes manure handling more efficient

can pick up plenty of manure in one pass, and easily transfer it onto the “honeywagon” which is the trailer that spreads the material as it is pulled through the field.  The manure is embedded with straw and other bedding materials and provides nutrients and organic matter to the soil.  But a machine that is eight feet long, with a six foot bucket, can  only reach into open areas.

Someone has to prep the barn and stalls…

by scraping the ‘”stuff” loose near the walls, and around the column piers, and also shovel the last remains into the bucket of the skid loader.  And being that it has been below freezing in the GBA lately, the “stuff” is hard and dry, and not too distressing to the nose.  And there was almost no moisture to deal with.  And no flies.

Once the barn floor was cleaned up, we needed to spread a nice layer of fresh straw onto it.  This is where the genius of a bank barn really shows up.  You may recall that the critters are kept below in a bank barn.

tractor access to the mid level, animals in the lower level

Bank gives tractor access to mid level, animals access lower level

Now the straw, or cornstalks to be used for bedding are stacked in the upper levels of the barn, and the hay, used for feed, is stored there too.  They are lowered through openings in the floor, the straw onto the newly cleaned floor, and the hay is lowered into feed trays located along the walls.  Very efficient.  Gravity doing all the work.  Well, almost all the work. Once the straw is on the floor it must be pitched around the whole of the interior, to provide an uniform *catch all* for manure, and also insulation from the floor for the cattle when they lay down.  With the old manure removed, and a nice thick layer of straw covering all of the floor area, these “shut-ins” ought to be comfortable over the coming wintery weather.

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