Winter Grub from Summer Toil

As fall races ahead, closing the gap on winter, did you ever wonder how we ranchers feed our livestock during the snowy months? The pastures offer only a limited amount of forage during this time, so we supplement with hay, among other things.

I live in Boulder, Wyo. where we only harvest our hay once a year unlike other places where it is warmer and ranchers raise alfalfa hay which can be harvested up to four times a year (four cuttings). We harvest native hay which is native grasses that grow there naturally.

Our haying tractor with the sickle bar mower folded up.

We first mow (cut) the hay with either a 7- or 9-foot sickle bar mower. Then after the hay has dried out (cured) we rake it into wind rows for the round baler to pick up and make a bale.

The sickle bar just as it begins to cut the hay.

Round bales average weight: 1300 lbs. – 1500 lbs. (1 ton =2,000 lbs)

Bales are stacked together in a fenced stack yard for storage for winter feeding. Some hay is put up loose into large piles.

This contraption is called a "beaver slide." It is used to stack loose hay.

Stack yard fences are 12ft high to make a wild-game-proof fence. We have to keep wild game out (moose, elk, deer, etc.) so they don’t eat or destroy the bales of winter feed. The Wyoming Game and Fish provide feed grounds for the elk and other wild game to help keep them away from the ranchers feed.

From RealRancher Kari Bousman – Boulder, Wyo.

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