BeefTalk: Beef cow waste creates challenges for the future

US - Something about building a hip-roofed barn assured our forefathers of a vivid appreciation for animal waste.
calendar icon 22 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
In the early decades of settling the vast rural expanses of North America, family essentials were secured along with the need for availability of some form of fresh food year around.

In the northern environment, winter was a stumbling block, so up went the hip-roofed barns. The upper floor of the barn served as a haymow and the main floor provided winter protection for the family's animals. Essential to the success of the operation was a daily supply of milk and cream, along with suitable stable arrangements for the carriage horse.

The barn on our homestead held 12 stanchions for milk cows, a large pen in the rear of the barn for loose stalling of beef cows, three calf pens, stalls for three teams of horses and two grain bins. The haymow had strategically placed hay drops over appropriate mangers. On a cold winter's night, the barn was quite nice.

The daily chores were very labor intensive. All the hay and grain was delivered by hand. More importantly, the animal manure left in the gutter had to be cleaned daily.

The proper daily disposal of the all the animal manure was a necessity because delaying the barn- cleaning chores only meant more work. Any accumulation potentially would freeze and make cleaning very difficult until a warm spring day. That was not acceptable, so the daily routine of backing the manure spreader into the barn and shoveling was the routine.

And yes, cows crap. They do it quite a bit, actually. This was a vivid reminder as one braved frigid weather to travel out to the fields to spread the day's output.

The cow has not changed. The daily output of manure is no different now than when the homesteaders steadily integrated accepted old-country practices in dealing with animal husbandry.

As time went on and the neighbors left, the herds started to get larger, soon outgrowing the hip- roofed barn.

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