A Kentucky Farm made Hustler Part of Their Sustainable Plan
As feeding and grazing management is at the heart of the sustainable goals, father & son Kentucky farmers, Pat and Patrick Hargadon, aim to reach on the farm, they found in the Hustler Chainless TX205 bale feeder the tool able to achieve just that. Watch their story to find out more.
“We want to be sustainable, we want to build up the fertility of the ground, we want to do it responsibly, we want to make sure that we always do things with conservation in mind… So we think we’re doing what’s right for the farm,” Pat started.
In the face of rapidly advancing climate change, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity, sustainability is something that many farmers and ranchers around the world aim to improve on their land.
It is also about finding solutions that are profitable long-term where improving the farm’s bottom-line can be a struggle… or simply a question of survival!
“We don’t own the farm, we’re just borrowing the farm for our lifetime”
Pat and Patrick were looking at a solution to improve their feeding management programme. Their ultimate goal is “to pass that farm on and […] leave it better than we found it”. When the time came to renew their bale processor equipment, they decided to purchase a Hustler Chainless bale feeder that helps them to:
- Drastically reduce hay waste
- Improve the soil health by lowering the chemical inputs and increasing the organic matter
- Minimise soil compaction due to hoof traffic
- Spread out the manure and urine
- Provide better access to feed for their herd
“The biggest advantage to the Hustler is the ability to make that roll hay as long as you want. You can make it last a mile long if you want to, to spread those cows out. That is hands down the number one reason we bought it,” Pat explained.
Hustler reduces waste
The Hustler Chainless bale feeder (mounted and trailed models) are designed to spread out the hay in the paddocks. The hay is not simply unrolled, it is also fluffed up. This point is a major difference between a simple hay unroller which creates a thick mat of hay whereas the Chainless bale feeder makes a neat, long and thin windrow. “If it’s laying flat on the ground, the cattle are going to walk over it. If you fluff it up, it kind of creates an obstacle and they kind of walk around it,” Pat detailed.
“We need to be good guardians of that hay and not waste it”
Hustler improves soil health
If the Chainless system can help reduce hay waste to just 2-3%, nothing is really lost. “The other thing the Hustler does when you fluff the hay up, it allows anything that maybe they don’t want to eat, it separates it for them, so if there’s a weed in there they don’t like, they can just leave it and it becomes fertilizer,” Pat said.
Old and permanent pastures can be up to 25% less responsive and absorptive of nutrients in the soil, such as Nitrogen than newly renovating pastures. Feeding in a new part of the pasture every day in a long narrow windrow makes the hay bales drop their seeds into the ground in the process. Your whole pasture can be reseeded for (virtually) free and with no time (except the time you are already spending feeding out your livestock anyway). Because grain/seeds are not destroyed, any that are not consumed by the cattle germinate, renewing pasture.
An interesting paper from Canada shows that soil inorganic nitrogen measured in spring following winter feeding beef cattle, was 3 times greater on bale graze sites and 3.7 times greater on bale process sites compared to unfertilized sites.
Hustler minimise soil compaction
The gathering of animals in a small area to feed is a major cause of soil compaction and pasture damage. Compacted soil stifles new grass growth and requires damaged areas to be re-seeded with replacement grass. Concentrated feed areas waste feed, endanger calves, animal health and the environment.
“It spreads the compaction, it spreads the erosion out, so you’re not completely devastating one area”
“The Hustler fluffs it up, it spreads the compaction, it spreads the erosion out, so you’re not completely devastating one area. You’re doing a light dusting across the entire farm, so it’s much easier for your management practices,” explained Patrick.
Hustler helps to spread out manure
Regulatory measures being introduced globally to address nitrogen leaching into waterways have brought the feeding of stock into sharp focus. When large numbers of stock gather in a small area to feed, the concentration of dung and urine causes nitrogen overload. Plants struggle to absorb this excess, which can then leach through the soil and into waterways.
“It just balances everything out for us”
“It allows us to go around the edges of the field in places that would normally not get the manure, not get the organic matter and allows us to feed on those hillsides and it just balances everything out for us,” Pat said.
Feeding directly onto the ground forces the animals to directly deposit urine and manure where they eat, meaning that if you choose where to feed, you basically choose where to fertilize.
Hustler provides even access to the hay
As a farmer, having a healthy herd is essential. However, it is not always easy to fight nature. Some cows at the bottom of the pecking order never get enough pounds on their body while the boss cows get probably more than we’d like.
“I know my weaker cows, my younger cows, my calves are all getting a chance to eat some hay”
The Chainless system helps to offer even access to the hay. “If I’ve got 150 mamas in that field with calves, I can spread that roll out over a mile and that way I know my weaker cows, my younger cows, my calves are all getting a chance to eat some hay,” Pat explained. With a long and thin windrow, the feed is spread out so much that the cows at the top of the hierarchy don’t get a chance to boss around the other cows or the calves.
Alongside human, social, environmental, economic is one essential pillar of sustainability. Building a sustainable business is all about making it good for the future, for the people, for the planet but also profitable.
“We want to do everything around here long-term and we think the Hustler is part of our long-term conservation plan and our long-term feeding plan and we’re very satisfied with the unit”
Do you want to know more about Hustler’s implement range? Contact us today, you’ll be glad you did!