Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ballet for the Bovines

Click on the photo for a closer look at the "choreography."
It might not be Swan Lake, but there's some fancy choreography in this Ballet for the Bovines. A bright morning sun lit the scene instead of a stage's spotlights. Rather than tiny, light-footed ballerinas in a choreographed dance, three mammoth tractors lumbered in pirouetting perfection. Two rainbows of gold provided the special effects. The audience included several thousand bovines who just might have been licking their lips in anticipation of a visit to the "concession stand" at intermission.

Last week, we hauled several loads of higher-moisture corn to the Haw Ranch Feedlot near Turon. While traditional co-op elevators want moisture content at around 16 or below, the feedlot wanted grain at 24 to 32 percent moisture.

In fact, if the corn was too dry, you got docked. If the moisture dropped below 24 percent, there was a 1.2 percent per point dockage. If it was too wet (above 32), the shrinkage was 1.5 percent per point.

The feedlot is around 15 miles from our farm. When we got to the feedlot, Randy unrolled the tarp covering the truck bed. 
Meanwhile, cowboys had herded some cattle onto the scales, weighing them to determine weight gains after a few weeks of dining on crabgrass pastures. Cowboys and cattle aren't usually part of the scenery when we take a trip to the co-op elevator.
After a moisture test at the scale house, Randy dumped the corn right on to a cement pad. Almost as soon as it was dumped, a big front loader came and pushed the corn into a pile.
Then, they used another front loader to scoop corn into the grinders.

There, the corn was broken down into cattle feed. Augers shot the ground corn into the silo, where the three big John Deere tractors pushed and packed it tight. 
I was glad I went along for the ride when I did because we didn't have to wait very long. Later in the day, Randy was in a line with 30 trucks, mostly semis, waiting to dump. We don't have a semi, so he decided we would quit hauling to the feedlot because of the distance and the downtime.

The big equipment and crew travel from feedlot to feedlot during corn harvest, putting up the corn into silos. The Haw Ranch Feedlot planned to take in approximately 800,000 bushels of higher-moisture corn in about one week's time. In addition, some area farmers sold corn silage to the feedlot. All will be used to feed cattle there at the feedlot, which has a 50,000-head capacity.
Ours was not a starring role in the Ballet for the Bovines, but everyone knows that those "bit parts" are important to the overall big picture.

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