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Waffle Hill Farm wins first-ever IRM "Tips for Profit" Award
Cattle producers Lawrason and Ned Sayre, who own and operate Waffle Hill Farm of
Churchville, Md., are recipients of the 2000 national Integrated Resource Management's (IRM)
first-ever "Tips for Profit" award from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA).
The award, sponsored by Pennington Seed, recognizes ingenious cattle producers for
innovative, home-grown inventions. It hopes to facilitate the flow of these new ideas and
beneficial technologies to improve the efficiency of beef production. And, it was presented to the
Sayres at the 2001 Cattle Industry Annual Convention.
The Sayres invented an efficient way to feed hay to their cattle and to manage waste
manure more effectively. They received $3,500 cash prize, plus an all-expenses paid trip to the
"We're really happy to have the Sayres as our first-ever award winners. Their invention is
a real standout, and we believe cattle producers everywhere can gain a great deal by taking a
closer look at what they've accomplished," says Homer Buell, IRM subcommittee chairman and
cattle producer from Rose, Neb. "Their invention not only improves efficiency, it also reduces
production costs and protects the environment at the same time."
The second-place award was presented to Pattie Farm, Harrison, Ark., and third place
went to Lindsey Angus, Jayton, Texas. Pattie Farm received $1,500 cash prize and Lindsey
Angus a $1,000 cash prize.
The award's selection committee included Joe Roybal and Clint Peck of BEEF Magazine;
Robert E. Lee, Robert E. Lee Ranch Company; Robert E. Blaylock, Auburn University; Dick
Helms, Flying H Genetics; and Benny Robertson, Pennington Seed.
Following are descriptions of all the IRM Tips winners:
First Place and Region 1 winner
Lawrason and Ned Sayre
Waffle Hill Farm, Churchville, Md.
Hay feeder and manure management system
Maryland is far from an ideal location to winter cows. It has prolonged periods of wet and
muddy conditions, making it difficult for farmers to store, handle and feed hay to cows.
Over the years, Lawrason and Ned Sayre looked at several methods to overcome these
challenges. First, they fed with hay rings in pastures, but found the cows wasted too much hay.
They also damaged fields when they hauled out round bales. Then they used silage pits, but
discovered they were inefficient, too.
The Sayres also wanted to ensure they were managing waste manure properly — and any
feeding system they developed had to be environmentally sound. This is key, because their farm
is just eight miles from the headwaters of Chesapeake Bay, one of the country's best—known
waterways and wetlands, home to countless waterfowl, wildlife and fish.
So in the early 1990s, the Sayres drew up plans for a structure that would allow them to feed hay
efficiently, manage manure effectively and protect the environment at the same time.
The farm, which raises about 140 registered Angus cows, now has two of these structures in
place. The structures consist of two 50-foot-long pads, where the cows stand while feeding. A
bunk, which feeds cattle on both sides, is located down the middle of the structure. And, behind
each of the pads is a 30-foot by 30-foot manure pit that's sloped away from the bunk and allows
water to drain away from the pit. A picket drain and 200-foot settling terrace allows
water to drain out of the pit.
To further simplify the structures, the Sayres placed hay storage sheds next to the bunks to
minimize field damage and improve hay quality. They constructed a calving barn at these sites as
well, making it easier to catch "calfy" cows. They built these structures on existing pasture
fencelines, so two separate groups of cattle could use the facility at the same time.
The Sayres also worked closely with local NRCS representatives to design and construct
attached manure storage pit, along with a drainage terrace. NRCS also provided some of the
cost—sharing for the construction of project.
Results so far have been astounding. The Sayres estimate they've reduced their feeding costs by
about 30 percent, due to improve feed quality and less waste. They've also reduced the incidence
of calf scours.
"Virtually all hay we put in the bunk is consumed and not wasted," says Lawrason. "And we're
much more efficient from a manpower perspective. With this facility, it takes one person to
scrape the alleys, refill the haybunk and feed about 90 cows for four to seven days. Before it
would take 4 to 5 bales of hay each day, requiring one man work 1 to 2 hours every day. The
savings is about 125 man hours during the 100-day feeding period."
Despite receiving the first—place award, the Sayres plan to make continued improvements to
their invention. "One of the changes we'd like to make is to widen the alleys to have more space
for cows to get into the bunk," says Ned. "We are also considering putting a shed roof with
gutters over the pads to divert rain and snow from the pit as well as protect the feed from
inclement weather. Keeping water from the pit would minimize water outflow through the
settling surface."
Second Place and Region 4 winner
Joe Pattie, Pattie Farm
Harrison, Ark.
Hydraulic Round Bale Scale
Like thousands of cattle producers across the country, Arkansas' Joe Pattie feeds round bales to
his cows every winter. Trouble is, in order to deliver the right amount hay each day, a producer
must know how much the bale weighs before unrolling it, and when to stop unrolling once the
desired amount of feed has been placed in the pasture.
The challenge, however, is that it would have been unfeasible for Joe to purchase a set of scales
to weigh bales prior to feeding, and then to weigh each section of hay as it was fed.
So Joe, who raises about 160 head of commercial cows, came up with an ingenious solution: the
tractor-mounted hydraulic bale scale.
Joe attached a cylinder arm to the top of his tractor's three-point rear hitch, then placed the other
end to the top of his bale unroller. He then attached a hydraulic hose to one end of the cylinder,
filled the system with fluid and placed a 600 psi pressure gauge that's visible from his tractor
cab. To properly calibrate his invention, Joe weighed six full bales and eight partial bale weights
on a set of digital, hanging scales. For each bale weight, he took the corresponding hydraulic
pressure reading. Doing this, he was able to calculate that for every 20-pound drop in hydraulic
pressure, there was a 50 pound reduction in bale weight.
"With hay cost ranging from $0.03 to $0.05 per pound, over-feeding of by just 50 pounds a day
for a 120-day feeding period can cost a producer $180 to $300," says Joe. "While underfeeding
may reduce feed costs, the performance of your cattle can also be greatly reduced resulting in
tremendous loss."
By using this invention and participating in the Arkansas IRM program, Joe has increased his
stocking rates by 33 percent, decreased breakeven price by 14 percent, decreased direct cost per
animal unit by 8 percent, increased total pounds of beef produced by 37 percent and improved
gross margin per cow by 17 percent.
Third Place
Kim Lindsey, Lindsey Angus
Jayton, Texas
The Syringe Coozie
Sometimes it's the little things that add up to big—time payoffs. And no one knows better about
this than Texas seedstock producer Kim Lindsey.
Kim always took careful steps to ensure she was handling vaccines properly. When she went into
the field, for instance, she packed them in coolers, protecting from extreme temperatures. But she
worried about exposure to sunlight and temperature extremes once the vaccines were removed
from a protective place and put in an outdoor, working environment.
"Prolonged exposure to sunlight, heat or cold can potentially lead to loss of vaccine effectiveness
and place the treated animal or herd at risk," she says.
So Kim invented a device called the syringe coozie. It fits a standard 50-cc, one-inch Pistol Grip
Syringe commonly used by cattle producers across the country. She made the coozie from 1-inch
pipe insulation cut to the correct length, which is slipped over the barrel of the syringe.
The idea worked. "Not only does the coozie protect vaccine from exposure to sunlight," says
Kim, "it also protects vaccine from becoming to hot, or from freezing. It protects the syringe
barrel from accidental breakage and provides a uniform surface for proper vaccine label
Other cattle producers have also benefited from the invention. Following Kim's advice, Bradley
3 Ranch Ltd. began using the syringe coozie as one way to improve herd health and survival
"Our SPA data show that in 1991 we were experiencing 13.98% death loss from cows exposed to
calves weaned," says Minnie Lou Bradley of Bradley 3 Ranch. "In 1998 SPA revealed that we
had cut our deathloss to 2.32%."
While Bradley admits the improvements were due exclusively to use of the syringe coozie,
protecting vaccines in the field probably played a key role. "This is a profitable idea that requires
less than a $2 investment," Bradley says.
Other regional winners:
Region 3 Winner
Greg Price
South Side Farm
Rockbridge, Ill.
Price wanted to improve efficiency and profitability, and identify areas in his operation where he
could reduce costs. So Price developed a method for stockpiling fescue, which has resulted in a
cost savings of 34 cents to 50 cents per cow per day during the first winter the procedure was
Region 5
Donald LeFever
Fort Collins, Colo.
One of the goals of life-long animal scientist Don LeFever has been improving results of heifer
breeding programs. So LeFever developed a procedure that combines body condition scoring,
pelvic measurements, reproduction tract scores with synchronization of estrus with MGA and
Region 7
Bob Price
Gracie Creek Ranch, Burwell, Neb.
Bob Price wanted to balance production with resources, and identify optimum marketing
windows for his cattle. He implemented a planned grazing system, delayed calving till late April,
weaned early and began marketing yearlings in mid-summer to allow stockpiling of standing
forage for winter grazing.
Jack and Carole Horne
Jack Horne Ranch, Coleman, Texas
Faced with severe drought, Jack Horne wanted to find a way to creep-feed whole corn and
protein to young calves at least cost, labor and sickness. Horne placed creepfeeders in pastures
where calves were just a few weeks old. This allowed for an easier, reduced—stress weaning
period, improved calf performance and enabled his cows to maintain reproductive performance,
despite the dry weather.
Ronald Sewell
Sewell's Bar S Limousin
El Dorado Springs, Mo.
Ronald Sewell wanted to increase fescue seed production, improve pasture productivity, promote
tree development, enhance wildlife habitat nd reduce haying expenses. So he developed "strip
haying," which allows him to accomplish all of these things. The procedure consists of mowing a
100-foot-wide strip through a hay field and leaving a similar strip of unmown grass behind.
Cows tend to graze the mowed grass, leaving behind the taller strips for winter grazing, wildlife
habitat and tree protection.
Bill and Jane Travis
Pine Ridge Ranch
Dallas, Texas
The Travises sought to produce cattle that would reach 1,200 pounds at one year of age and
produce a high-Select to low-Choice carcass. So they developed a genetic improvement and
selection to reduce costs, improve growth and produce consistent carcass quality.