by Chris Reinhardt, feedlot specialist
Consider the humble Box Blade.
As a feedlot nutritionist, you’d think my favorite piece of equipment or technology would be the steam-flaker, the feed mixer, the small-ingredient inclusion system. No. I love the box blade.
Why? Because the nutritionist owns performance. BRD belongs to someone else, but when closeouts are chronically below expectations, the nutritionist often takes the heat.
As we come into a wet winter, lots can become muddy, and mud has devastating impacts on performance.
Cattle need a (relatively) dry comfortable place to lie down. If excessive moisture has resulted in destruction of the mound, it’s time to run the box blade. Cattle that cannot rest do not perform.
Cattle should have 20-25 square feet of mound area on which to lie down. The top surface (5-10 feet wide) of the mound should be crowned side-to-side, and longitudinally the mound should also have a mild grade similar to the direction of the general slope of the pen, which is normally between 1 and 6%. The sides of the mound should have a slope of 1:5 to enhance drainage yet still allow cattle to lie on the surface.
The end of the mound should connect directly to the concrete bunk pad so that, especially during muddy conditions, cattle can move freely and easily between the mound and the bunk and water areas. This will encourage both feed consumption and resting behavior, both of which will enhance performance during and after inclement weather.