Cattle prices may be good now, but that doesn't mean beef producers don't remember when prices were much lower and margins were tight. So who can blame them if they stick with tried and true, inexpensive methods of devising feeders and fencing cattle?
Now, just because cattle prices are high, doesn't mean beef producers need "Cadillac" cattle feeders. As one cattleman puts it, the feed still tastes the same to the cows.
James Brown, Washington County, and his son operate a 100-cow commercial beef herd. Their farm is devoted to pasture and forage since it is primarily rolling land. Brown is a strong believer in soil conservation, and believes the best use for his farm is pasture and grass.
Brown also has a 60-ewe sheep flock, but it is the cow herd that utilizes the bulk of the forage produced by grass and haymaking on the farm.
You won't find expensive feeders in his cow lots. In fact, one of the pastures features a section of fence where an old ear corn elevator, with the section of the elevator that carried corn cut away from the frame, and mounted horizontally to serve as the feeder.
The fence is built around the elevator. It's a good, long section of elevator to make enough room for feeding as many cows as will be on that particular pasture at one time. Due to the way the elevator was constructed, the cattle eat up off the ground in a clean environment.
Most old-style ear corn elevators, at least well-worn ones, seldom bring much at farm or consignment auctions. Sometimes the auctioneer is lucky to get a bid on one. Brown figured the elevator still had a lot of useful life left used as a feeder when he feeds grain to supplement the cows on pasture on his farm.