Problem with drainage in 16 by32 steer yard : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I've been raising two dairy steers for about 10 months and was doing fine I plan on butchering them come April.But we have now had a thaw and the yard is a total disaster!! they have been on the Purina Dairy Steer Program and I would reccomend it to any one raising a 1200 lb. Dairy steer in one year mine will make that weight easy.but back to the thaw problem,my land is what they call Wooster loam and sloping a bit in terrain.The water will not drainand it is a soupy mess.I plan on scraping it out this weekend with my case V.A.C. and the 10 dollar blade I bought but am wondering what I can do to keep it nicer for them as I have a buddy who is a dairy farmer and get's more bull calves then he cares for.I'm not going to get any more till I remidy this problem.I can't stand a messy yard and the way it is know it's more work then I like for such a usally easy task. Help appreciated!!

-- Russ Horner (RDH123@BRIGHT.NET), February 24, 2000


Russ; I feel for you and the mess. It doesn't leave forever. Don't scrape it out! Scrape in and up. Build a oblong center mound. If you can purchase a load of "Road Clay Base" Good. Make mound Long and Wide enough to feed hay on and for the cattle to stand and lie down on the high ground. They will love you for it. At the low end leave drainage away from all traffic. Don't try to build up a mound with pallets, nails and hoofs bad buisness. In the beginning you'll have to pack in a lot of hay for them to trample and lay on. Once a hard pack mound is established, you'll be able to raise a lot of those calves Lots of Luck JR

-- James R. Jones (, February 24, 2000.

Russ, JR is right. If at all possible get some real dirt, clay, or the stuff he recomends. A pure manure mound doesn't work as well-if it can be said to work at all. Since we're going into spring, you may have to wait until later to make a good mound. You might want to scrape up a mound now, and then when the ground is thawed and dried later on this spring, make yourself a good mound. It is worth the time and money. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, February 25, 2000.

Agreed in general about the mound. For bedding and footing, try to get straw rather than hay - hay has nutrients, it's for eating, it will rot easily. Straw is nearly inert - just stalks after the grain has ripened and been harvested - it won't rot nearly as easily, and it should be cheaper. You could temporarily try sawdust too - absorbent, and you could clean it out and compost it or use it directly on gardens later; then build the permanent answer - the mound.

I'd be inclined to watch prices for calves carefully too - there may be times when it is worthwhile to get extras of what we call "bobby" calves, for immediate slaughter and to grow on for only a few months. That way you could assess which ones are growing best, and slaughter the others for veal - almost 100% usage, and soft calfskin leather as well - if the price is right.

-- Don Armstrong (, February 25, 2000.

I don't know where you are located in the country but if know of any farmers that grow Flax and have some baled get some. It's not like straw at all it won't break down very fast and it floats on top of the mud thats what we use to keep our cows and calves out of the mud.

-- denden (, February 25, 2000.

Forget the straw, all you will end up with is an even bigger mess. Your soil, if it is Wooster silt loam has very low strength and plasticity index. Find out where your Soil and Water Conservation district is and ask for some FREE technical assistance. Dairy farms routinely have this problem in heavily trafficed areas and most often are solved by a complete reshaping of the grade to eliminate any low spots and direct runoff to a suitable spot. Also make sure the area isn`t receiving any unneccesary roof water. With an area as small as yours, they will most likely suggest a removal of the manure and topsoil and replacing with a fabric that will not allow the mud to work back up through. Then you install fine limestone to provide firm footing for the animals. When you clean your lot, the little bit of limestone you will remove in the scraping process will act somewhat as a liming material with the manure. Don`t forget that any water directed from your open lot should receive some treatment process before being directed to any stream or drainage way. Many times a small grass filter strip will absorb and trap any excess nutrients before they enter a watercourse.

-- Bob T. (, February 25, 2000.

Don't contact the soil and water conservation. They will want everything done by the book costing you more money than what your little feed lots worth.

-- denden (, February 26, 2000.

That`s generally the idea when someone doesn`t know what to do. Others have found solutions and they are tried and true. Shortcuts are usually just that. By the way, if you contact your soil and water conservation district, you aren`t obligated to follow through if it`s that much of a hardship.(participation is completely voluntary) Our district is very flexible when working with cooperators, here in Ohio, we could even offer cost share moneys for a large portion of the project. We have done it before for small horse stables and others...size is not a factor...if you do the work yourself, you can count your work as part of the cost share.

-- Bob T. (, February 27, 2000.

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