The entrance and exit to a dairy yard is often a miserable place. If you have an average herd of 250 cows, it gets trodden on by 1000 hoofs each day and bearing in mind that each cows weighs about 550 to 600kgs, that’s an awful lot of work. It also gets heavily “fertilised”!
Here’s how ours looked in summer.
I wasn’t looking forward to seeing it in winter! The rain has set in early and the feeling I have in my waters is that it’s going to be another nasty wet winter this year, so fixing up the bog-hole quickly became a high priority. Mud like this is a recipe for disaster in the form of lameness and mastitis – two things every dairy farmer tries to avoid at all costs.
Every season, we put loads of gravel in there and, every season, it seems to disappear before our eyes. I decided we had two problems: first, a concrete lip designed to force the cows to lift their hoofs, depositing the gravel back outside the yard had the twin effect of forcing each cow to step in precisely the same spot. Second, the legacy of loads and loads of gravel is that you end up building a mountain that, in our case, drained right back to the bog hole with nowhere for the water to escape.
So, we’ve taken a deep breath, got the excavator in to remove the mountain and the concreting crew in to provide a firm footing at the end of the yard.
Several seasoned characters have since wagged their heads, saying “You’ll only move the problem, you know…” but I don’t think it will be as bad. There’s now no need for the cows to so precisely follow in each others’ footsteps and the watery muck drains away from the track instead of into it. (Duh!) Wish us luck!