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SD feedlot installs spreader dike

Casey and Gina Maher, of Maher Angus Ranch, Morristown, S.D., recently upgraded and expanded their 300-head feedlot to handle 999 head of cattle.

In their upgrade, they installed a spreader dike that works in conjunction with a solids separator and lagoon to capture runoff from the 23-acre, seven-pen site. Waste from the pen area flows through their system and into the nearby 14-acre spreader dike system.

The Mahers broke ground for the upgrade in April 2012 and began using the new facility this past August.

“We moved more than 50,000 yards of dirt for the project,” Casey says. “That was used to build the spreader dikes and feed alley. It took about a month to set up more than 10,000 feet of cable fence. We installed the cable because of its reasonable cost. To keep cattle from rubbing on it, we put high tensile electric fencing with the cable.”

Cable fencing provides a cushioned impact if cattle do push against it. Since the Mahers raise and sell Black Angus bulls each year, they wanted to reduce injury potential for young bulls, who tend to “roughhouse” on occasion.

Key Points

• Maher Angus upgrades and expands its 300-head feedlot.

• Features include spreader dike, cable fencing and Double D feedbunks.

• Heavy-duty, 12-foot-wide feeding pad keeps cattle out of mud.

“We also have about 1,300 feet of pipe fencing mainly near our new sales and shop facility,” Casey says. “That area serves as our receiving and shipping pens and holding area during our bull sale. We used two and seven-eighths-inch steel posts and a two and three-eighths-inch steel top rail. The rest of the fence is 1.9-inch pipe.”

Livestock-friendly gates are also part of the Mahers’ design. Gate latches are rounded so if an animal gets wedged against a gate, the latch won’t puncture or poke them. Gate latches are also easy to open and close.

The Mahers spent considerable time debating on the most effective feed bunk design. They settled on a concrete slip form feed bunk system designed and installed by Nebraska’s Double D Bunks. The continuous slip form bunk includes a 51- by 2-inch dipped post inserted every 10 feet to hold the ½-inch prestressed cable that runs along its length.

“We also put a two and three-eighths-inch top rail over the cable to tie the bunk system together and reduce the likelihood that animals will crawl through it,” Casey says. “One disadvantage of this type of feedbunk can be the necessity to dig snow out of it. Since we use a slick bunk feeding system, we don’t often shovel them out.”

A heavy-use pad that’s 12-feet wide, 6-inches deep and reinforced with rebar runs behind the length of the feedbunk. The design is intended to provide space for cattle to stay on the pad while feeding, reducing potential falls due to slippery mud or manure accumulations. The slab’s extra depth is intended to hold up under heavy equipment used for cleaning.

“On the feeding side of the bunk, we have a thermal barrier constructed with 9 inches of gravel on top of a fiber that looks like a tree barrier you would install on a lawn,” Casey says. “The fiber keeps the gravel from sinking away.”

The Mahers worked with the North Dakota Stockmen Stewardship Program to secure funding for their facility. They also hired private contractors to finalize the design and complete construction.

“Most of the design is ours,” Casey says. “Over the past five years, any time I couldn’t sleep, I thought about drawing it up. Hopefully, it lasts for at least three generations. My dad is 65, I’m 35 and my son is 10. So we expect to raise Angus cattle here for some time.”

Learn more about the Mahers’ facility, their cattle and their annual sale, which is Feb. 1 this year, at www.maherangus.com. Sorensen is from Yankton, S.D.

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A solid separator prevents solids from plugging up pipes that carry liquid to the lagoon. Pictured are Casey and Gina Maher’s children Sidney, Sonni and Sterling.


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Pens are set up for bull sale day at the feedlot.


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Proud FAMILY: (Left to right, front) Sidney, Sonni, Sterling, Shayna, Gina and Casey Maher. (Back) Gloria and Dan.


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FEEDLOT LAYOUT: Cable and pipe fencing were used throughout the feedlot. This view shows the north run of pens.


This article published in the January, 2013 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2013.