Growing your own vegetables for livestock feed is a viable solution for farmers who have limited access to high-quality feed due to ongoing drought conditions. Depending on where your farm is situated, the availability of feed might be limited, meaning that it will become more expensive to feed your animals.

Making your own feed is affordable. It also means that you have complete control over the nutrients your animals are consuming, and you can test and adjust your approach accordingly to suit their needs. While it might seem like a challenging task, there are plenty of vegetables and crops to choose from that will add the much-needed vitamins and minerals to your animals’ diet. In order to get started, all you need is the correct farm equipment to mix your feed in and the correct crop seeds to begin your harvest.  

Because you’re not utilising these vegetables to sell or to consume yourself, the pressure of picking your vegetables fresh is less. So, if you choose to grow your vegetables in bulk, mix them in your feed mixer equipment and store the feed for later use, make sure that your feed is stored in a dry area to avoid anything from spoiling it. Here are the most popular vegetables and crops used for livestock feed:

Corn and grazing corn

Maize is a popular choice for livestock as it provides your animals with a high-energy diet, and can be consumed by all ages. This forms a staple for any animal’s diet, as it helps animals to digest their food easily and deliver healthy waste. Due to water shortages, the availability of corn is starting to become scarce. If you grow your own, you will be able to reduce costs significantly, without having to supplement your livestock feed with other chemical protein options to make up for the lack of maize in their diets.

If you choose to allow your animals to graze their corn intake over mixing it into their feed, you will need to manage their intake daily and rotate your livestock when corn gets below a certain height. The reason for this is that it can affect your livestock’s digestion, leading to health issues if not monitored properly. Many animals enjoy feeding off of the crop residue left behind after a crop harvest, but this also needs to be monitored as it is not recommended for growing calves and lactating or pregnant females. The nutritional value is low, therefore it could affect their growth and the health of females significantly.

Sweet corn and dent corn

Sweet corn is suitable for livestock, however, if not used promptly, it can become contaminated quickly due to its high sugar content. Sweet corn is moist in comparison to grazing corn, which can serve as a helpful binding agent when mixing food together in a mixer. This type of corn should be shared with livestock in moderation as large volumes of high-sugar feed can lead to digestive problems. This is not ideal for livestock as it can affect their stomachs and cause them to bloat. When their digestive system is not in good condition, their immune systems drop and can become vulnerable to diseases.

Dent corn is known to be a traditional animal feed. It is identified as a dry, cornmeal kernel, slim in look and yellow in colour. This type of corn is a cost-effective feed option for farmers looking to cut costs and reduce waste because it is disease-resistant. Because of its dryness in texture, it’s easy to grow and it requires minimal water, making it an ideal feed option for farmers during the winter months.

Pumpkins, squash and other root crops

It’s recommended that you grow pumpkin and squash to feed your animals during the winter months. These sweet crops are filled with good fats, high-fibre and protein for your animals. When fed with other dry ingredients, animals are kept full for longer and their bodies can withstand dry, cold conditions. It is necessary that you remove the seeds and the skin before mixing it into your mixer, helping them to digest the content easier. You can also store these crops in a cool environment for later consumption.

Many root crops contain plenty of water, therefore they need to be mixed with dry materials before fed to your animals. Root crops such as potatoes and carrots are particularly popular for animals, however, they take some time to get used to as they contain laxatives that may have a negative effect on certain age groups of animals. If possible, try and introduce these elements over a certain period of time to ensure your animals slowly get used to them without shocking their digestive systems.

Final thoughts

In addition to standard hay that your animals find on their pasture, try and grow your own crops to ensure your animals are consuming the nutrients they need. Depending on the size of your herd, you should invest in a feed mixer to help mix the correct ratio of food for your animals. There are plenty of options available, for example, a vertical feed mixer or Radium’s Horizontal Feed Mixer design. Your choice depends on your needs, but it’s an important piece of farm equipment if you’re working with livestock.

Keeping your farm roads in tip-top shape requires plenty of maintenance.

Depending on where you live and how much rain your roads experience, you will need to service your roads regularly before the trapped water leads to gravel depletion, erosion and more.

If you take the time to fix your roads when potholes arise, you won’t need to bash down large sections at a time to make your road safe and secure again. The longer you leave it, the more expensive it will be to cover a large area, and it will also put your road out of action for quite some time before they bed in again.

Any type of road damage can be restored if you have access to the correct agriculture machinery.

Alongside your tractor, you can expect to use soil ripping equipment and road graders, particularly a universal grader.

Rock removal farming equipment is also useful for gravel road projects.

What is the cause of potholes?

In short, potholes occur on farm roads due to the poor drainage and compact finish on the gravel. Once you start to experience plenty of potholes on your gravel roads, the quick fix of re-filling the holes can only work a few times until you need to replace the entire surface. The bigger the potholes, the more dangerous it is for farm workers travelling with heavy machinery and regular vehicles passing through.

In order to save time and money on materials, it is advised that you monitor your roads regularly to avoid having to redo the entire surface at once. It is also helpful to understand the different types of gravel road damage, how to approach each project and which type of farm implements are needed for the job.

Here are a few tips to fixing pothole-ridden roads.

Soil removal: When you design, lay down or maintain your gravel road, you need to remove as much soil as possible, as soil fertility can lead to weeds going beneath your road structure. Of course, the more these weed roots grow, the more they will slowly start to degrade the road’s surface by pushing up and making bumps in the road. Soil also retains water, which needs to be drained through a draining system.

Proper drainage systems: If you don’t have a plan for water drainage, the road will start to pool water which can lead to massive potholes. If you include drainage into your design, general maintenance will be prolonged by this feature as pressure and rainy conditions will not lead to regular restoration.

Rock removal: This type of heavy machinery is used to maintain roads and remove any unnecessary rocks or materials from the area you need to grade. Before you’re able to grade your roads, you will need to remove rocks to smoothen the surface and assist with the development process. If rocks are not removed, they can jump up and damage your equipment or hurt the operator while driving.

Levelling and compact: By adding drainage to your road, it simply means that you will need to level your road with slanted sides to allow for water to run off of the road itself without pooling the water. This is the next level in the pothole maintenance process. Once you’ve removed your rocks, you will be able to level out the road with a grader. A grader will help to compact the surface and ensure the gravel is laid tightly.

Bedding in: The final stage of restoring your gravel is allowing the newly serviced road to set. It will take a few months before the road is ready to be driven on. Which isn’t ideal. This is exactly why farm owners are advised to monitor the wear and tear on their roads, and fix them once they start to see issues.

Final thoughts

Any maintenance process that requires heavy machinery and equipment is costly. If you’re going to take the time to restore your gravel roads, be sure to plan properly and avoid accessing the road thereafter. Heavy pressure and aggressive driving behaviour will have a negative impact on your newly serviced road. So, make use of the correct equipment and seek professional help to detect future complications.