Introduction: How to Load Feed for Cows

Everything that is alive needs food to survive. During the winter and spring months, there isn’t grass for cows to graze. This makes it very important that the cows be fed properly so they produce healthy calves. In the following steps, the process of how to load the feed for cows will be taught.

Step 1: Things You Will Need

For this process, a forage wagon, front-end loader tractor, silage, and ground alfalfa or prairie hay is needed. The forage wagon doesn’t need to be huge but must be big enough to hold two buckets full of hay and two of silage. The loader must have enough power to pull the wagon when it is full and be able to reach the top of the wagon for loading. The silage should be of good quality without black or moldy spots. The alfalfa or prairie hay can be used separately or in a mixed pile. Once all these things are obtained, the process of loading feed can begin.

Step 2: Preparation Before Loading of the Wagon

To begin the process, make sure that the tractor has plenty of oil and is fueled up before starting. When the weather is cold, make sure that the tractor is plugged and has time to
preheat. If the tractor was plugged in make sure to unplug the cord before starting the tractor. To operate the loader tractor, locate the key underneath the steering wheel. Turn the tractor on. The throttle is to the right and is a dark red/orange. Push the throttle about half way forward. Then push the clutch pedal in, which is the left peddle. Locate the shifter on your right, it is a light orange. Pull the shifter out of park and put it into 5th gear. Once the tractor is in gear, slowly let the clutch out and the tractor will take off. To go to reverse, push the clutch in and wait for the tractor to stop. After the tractor has stopped pull the shifter back into neutral. Then push it into 2nd reverse and slowly let the clutch out.

Step 3: Operation of the Tractor

The wagon should be parked next to the silage and ground hay. If the piles are in the same location it will make for easier and quicker loading. Having the piles in separate locations will lead to extra driving or even multiple times of connecting and disconnecting the wagon from the tractor. Sometimes in this part of the country it rains in the winter, which causes ice. The ice can freeze the apron inside the wagon to the floor of it. If it has rained and turned to ice the night before, make sure to free up the apron before loading it.

Step 4: Operation of the Loader

To operate the loader, locate the two levers in front of the throttle and shifter. The lever to the right will operate the bucket tilt and bucket height. Pushing the lever forward will lower the scoop and pulling it back will raise the scoop. When the lever is moved to the left the scoop will tip back. Moving the lever to the right will tip the scoop forward. The lever located to the left runs the grapple forks. When the lever is pushed forward, the grapple closes and when pull back the grapple will open.

Step 5: Loading of the Chopped Hay

Take the loader and get a full scoop of hay from the pile. Then place it in the back of the wagon. Get another full scoop of hay from the pile but this time, place it in the front of the wagon.

Step 6: Loading of the Silage

Pull up to the silage pile with the loader and obtain a full scoop. When pulling away from the pile make sure there is no silage that can fall off while driving to the wagon. To make sure there is no silage that can fall off, shake the scoop a little to release any loose silage. Before going to the wagon, double check that there is no plastic mixed in the silage on the scoop. After this proceed to the wagon and dump the silage in the back. Repeat these last steps but put the second scoop in the front of the wagon.

Step 7: Hooking the Wagon to the Tractor

Pull around to the front of the wagon and begin backing up. Keep backing up until the hitch of the tractor is aligned with the hitch of the wagon. Get out of the tractor and hook the wagon hitch onto the tractor hitch using the hitch pin that is hanging on the back of the tractor. If the hitches don’t line up, keep moving the tractor accordingly until they do.

Step 8: Attaching the PTO

Disconnect the PTO from the wagon. Before attaching the PTO to the tractor, make sure that the PTO shaft on the tractor is the 540 PTO to match the wagon shaft. If the shafts aren’t the same, you won’t be able to attach the wagon correctly. The picture on the left is the incorrect PTO shaft, while the middle one is correct. Attach the PTO to the tractor by matching up the groves with those on the tractor shaft. If the groves don’t line up, rotate the wagon shaft until the do. Once the grooves line up, depress the button on the wagon PTO shaft. Push the shaft onto the tractor shaft all the way. Now release the button on the wagon PTO shaft. Pull back on the wagon PTO shaft until it snaps. The PTO has now been connected and now the cows can be fed.

Step 9: Conclusion

The process that was just explained is a very important part of the cattle business. Without this process the cows would go hungry over winter and wouldn’t produce healthy calves in the spring. This process doesn’t have just one way, every farmer or rancher has their own style. The amounts of feed can also be changed to fit each person’s operation. This process has taught the basics on how to feed cattle and a few very important tips.