Feeding Hay

I am still in awe and wonder at some of the things that the Salatins do here at Polyface.  One of those things is how long our cows stay on pasture.  It wasn’t till two weeks ago that we started feeding our big herd, around 500 head, hay.  Up until then they had still been eating stock piled forage.  This is quite a contrast when most every farmer around here started feeding hay back in October!  The other mind boggling thing is that we will only feed hay for 30-40 days!  Because of how we care for our pastures and rotate the cows, our grass starts growing sooner then other farms”.  The way we feed hay is a little different as well.  When we feed hay in pastures we still set up electric fencing and give them certain size paddocks and move them everyday, so that the manure is spread out and they don’t make a mud hole in the pastures.

Well, feeding hay ranks way up at the top of my list of favorite things to do.  It is right up there with making hay. 🙂  So, here are some pictures from a day last week that we fed hay.  Enjoy!

Patiently waiting to be fed...

Patiently waiting to be fed…

Dinner is sooo close, yet so far away!

Dinner is sooo close, yet so far away!

Trailer is almost all loaded up.

Trailer is almost all loaded up.

I don’t have any pictures of us actually feeding because I was too busy.  But basically, we hook the trailer up to the tractor and drive back and forth across their paddock while 2 people break open bales and toss the hay off.  Sounds simple enough, but you have to be quick and keep track of a lot of things going on around you.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!




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About Leanna Hale

Leanna Barth, born and raised in NC, first came to Polyface in July 2010 to attend one of the Intensive Discovery Seminars. She loved it so much that she applied for an internship position and was accepted for the 2011 season, after which she took the inventory/gardener position. Before coming to Polyface, she sold produce from her family’s market garden, along with homemade baked goods. This venture was mostly inspired by having read “You Can Farm” by Joel Salatin. Having always loved the outdoors, animals, and gardening Leanna is excited about this coming year, all that she will learn, and how the Lord will use this job later on in her life.

7 Responses to Feeding Hay

  1. Happy cattle! Those are big bales, must weigh quite a bit. Here, bales are either the round ones or the small square ones (I think they’re around 50 lbs).

    • Leanna Hale says:

      Yes, the bales are around 600 lbs. Most farmers around here do large round bales or the small squares ones.

  2. Wenona says:

    I’d like to hear about how you get water to the cows in remote locations, either out in the pastures or in the shelters in the winter when the water will freeze. We are a little colder here in the north and it is one of the things I am having trouble figuring out while trying to raise my cattle Polyface style.

  3. HomesteadArtisa says:

    Hmm,…trying this again. As I looked over your pictures, I was admiring the condition of the cattle. I was wondering how many acres of pasture you used per head to be able to get them to this point before starting to feed hay. Pasture won’t grow during the winter, so you have to have extra ‘stockpiled’ to turn them onto it in increments. We have fed our hay inventory and are now buying in, but will be able to feed our stockpiled pasture as soon as we can get the rest of the fence up around it. We don’t have the option of using the electric fencing like you use, in our overpopulated ‘neighborhood’ they get chased or rocks thrown at them, so we have to have big strong fences that will hold goats and lgd’s, too. This will turn out to be the least cost scenario for feeding them as this time of year the hay prices go way up.