Throughout the winter the cows are bought into the barns and they remain here until spring when the ground has dried up again. When you have a lot of cows inside, you guessed it, there is a lot of muck! Mucking out the sheds takes place every couple of months or as and when it’s needed.
During the autumn and winter the wet British weather means that if we were to leave the cows out in the fields all of the ground would get churned up, the cows would become very muddy and due to darker days it becomes harder to spot any issues the livestock may have. When the weather starts to turn we therefore bring all of our stock into the barns back at the farmyard. This year it has been particularly bad weather and therefore the cows had to come back in earlier than normal and have been in since the start of October (it’s normally November)
When they come into the barns we spread straw on the ground as a bedding. Each day the cows do their thing and muck builds up. The next day we then put fresh straw on top of the dirty straw in the pen. The cows have a clean base for the day and the same thing happens again. This cycle continues everyday until the muck builds up to a level that is too high for the pen so we have to clean the pen out and effectively start the whole process again.
Here you can see one of our barns with the cows in where the muck has built up and is almost level with the pen barrier.
The cow sheds have a pass way in the middle which is where we normally feed etc. so to clean out the cow sheds we move all the cows from their pen into the middle which means they are safe and secure whilst we work on clearing the pen. You can see below the pass way and the cows in their pen to the right. Then the cows in the middle with the pen full of muck empty.
We use a bucket on the tractor to clear out the pen. It’s just like a giant spade, you drive forward, scoop up as much muck as possible and then tip it into the trailer. This process is repeated until the trailer is full, at which point the trailer is driven out to one of our fields and tipped out into a big pile to be spread on the fields next autumn.
Here is a short video showing a bit of the mucking out
Once cleaned out we put all the gates back in place, fill the pen with fresh straw and release the cows back through. The cows love playing in the fresh straw and as you can see below and have soon settled back down in the nice fresh pens.
That’s it, job done, for another couple of months!