My friend Susan of small-scale dairy blog post fame and also longest voicemails ever fame recently sent me pictures of the system she uses for feeding her cows hay in different locations in the pasture. She calls it her cow tractor but I'm calling it a hay tractor because I'm cantankerous.
Susan tells me this trailer was sitting around unused, so she tied a pallet to it using a whole bunch of baling twine, and screwed on some side boards. The boards are high enough that the cows don't pull down too much hay at once. She can move the trailer herself, which she does every two days.
Susan likes the fact that there are slats in the bottom of the hay bin because that way rain water won't build up. And she doesn't mind that some hay falls through, or is pulled off by the cows, because she moves the tractor every other day and thus doesn't have to worry too much about the hay falling into manure.
Using this system, Susan says she gets better manure and urine distribution in the pasture, she doesn't have any one section of the pasture become muddy from overuse, that the 360 degree access makes it harder for the top cows to shut the bottom ones out of hay (which happens in the barn), that she only has to load the bin once a day, and that inevitably some grass seeds are distributed around the pasture.
Thanks to Susan for a cool idea. One wonders if her rising fame will be an incentive for others at Ragley Farm to make a submission...I definitely haven't heard much from the flower division. I suppose that means the flower lady has nothing to brag about.