Saturday, January 10, 2009

Frozen FYM.

FYM, that's what we were taught to call it at Agricultural College, dung ,poop or sh-t was not acceptable even though it was easier to write. The Lecturers did allow us to shorten Farm Yard Manure to FYM and thus assist our poor spelling. With all animal agriculture and especially in the winter with the grazing types we seem to spend most of our time forking food in and forking FYM out. When you add in the 2 or 3 tons of barley we will feed close to lambing time, along with the hay we are feeding for the winter we will have fed approximately 200,000 lbs of feed which means that there is a fair amount of FYM out on the feeding grounds. We feed most of the winter on the fields and move the feed around so the manure is spread over a large area ,then in the Spring we harrow it to spread and break it down, a few weeks later all you can see is a lovely green pasture that has been well fed.
We have fed on the field now for 12 years and it really saves on work , both in the winter by not having to deal with barns and bedding,and in the spring or summer when you have to clean out and spread the manure. Feeding in the field eliminates two expensive operations and allows the livestock to do the work for you.
It is a pleasure to be back with sheep as it is a nice smooth ride over the frozen ground. Sheep poo you see is the size of fat smarties (they are all brown, no blue ones)and they are found in hand fulls of little round balls. Driving over them is no problem. At the old ranch in Manitoba we fed cattle out in the field and at that time we had a 50 horse power David Brown tractor and packed 1200 lb bales out to the cows. Now cows as most of you know don't deposit smarties, just lumps the size of curling rocks and about the same hardness as the Scottish granite they are made of,at least in the winter when frozen, (in the summer it just squelches up between your toes, don't ask). Negotiating the little and heavily laden tractor over a boulder field of poo was always hard on the front axles which were carrying the weight of the bale and over the years I had to replace 3 stub axles, which although annoying was cheaper than a new tractor. We finally had a new four wheel drive tractor which made feeding a breeze as it was tough enough for the bovine excrement obstacle course.
Now with a new ranch and sheep the problem only occurs when on foot. All those frozen sheep smarties are the same as trying to walk on ball bearings or marbles. Add to the picture a 5 gallon pail or two full of rolled barley in your hands and 150 ewes all pushing a shoving each other and you to get in the bucket.Its not long before the smarties underfoot do their thing and you are under the flock covered in barley and have become their dinning table.This I learned the hard way on our first ranch some 18 years ago. We now have a separate feeding area for grain, the troughs are filled minus sheep and then they are let in through a gate which is opened carefully as a woolly torrent roars through the opening to devour the goodies. Much like a firework rocket, light the blue touch paper and stand clear!

No comments: