Three primary alleyways provide the “blue print” of the feedyard with cattle home pens located on both sides of each alleyway for a total of 24 pens. Our cattle farm dropped below 1/2 capacity (1500 bovines) last week as we shipped the final pen out of our 1st alley.
Early in the fall, I arranged the logistics so that the first alley pens emptied by early November. This allows for us to begin the “tear down” phase on part of the farm while still taking care of cattle in the pens that make up the 2nd and 3rd alleyways.
So, how do you tear down a feed yard?
Returning the cattle pen area to crop farm ground and grass pasture provides the goal for the “tear down” phase. The logistical process occurs in the following order:
- Take out the fences to open up the landscape.
- Scrape the home pen surfaces to remove excess nutrients (manure) which we transport to my favorite farmer’s fields located within a 10 mile radius of the feed yard. This manure helps to replenish nutrients and maintain good soil health where we grow crops each year.
- Even up the land by removing “pen mounds” in order to create a flat surface for farming.
- Disconnect cattle drinking water lines and remove water tanks from the home pens.
- Remove concrete to be recycled.
Completing this process for each of our three alleys allows for the transition of 24 cattle pens into approximately 40 acres of farm ground and pasture. These acres will combine with other adjacent farm ground that already provides us with a nice crop of alfalfa.
November, December, and January will be split months for us as we continue to take care of the remaining cattle on the farm while also working on the transition project. Once the last pen of cattle ships to slaughter in early February, our efforts will concentrate fully on the conversion of the land. We hope to finish the tear down by summertime in order to plant a transition crop on the irrigated acres and grass for the non-irrigated pasture ground. The winter and spring weather will play a large role determining if we are successful in meeting that time goal.
While this project provides uncharted waters for us, we are working in consultation with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality in addition to the Natural Resources District. My favorite farmer is an agronomy nerd and I am a passionate believer in the Native American philosophy that the earth was not a gift from your parents, but rather a loan made to you from your children, so managing for good soil health and the protection of our farm’s natural resources drives the decision making process.
Speaking of my favorite farmer, I need to grant him photo credits for the top two pictures shown above. I am afraid of heights, so he nobly offered to climb the elevator leg at the feed yard to get the aerial photos 😉