Farmer Cheats: Build your own lick wheel

Farmers hate droughts, especially when grazing starts to run low and desperate plans need to be made. This is when feeding an energy supplement can really help animals maintain their condition.

Farmers hate droughts, especially when grazing starts to run low and desperate plans need to be made. This is when feeding an energy supplement can really help animals maintain their condition.

An adult cow of about 400kg eats about 12kg of dry material a day. If you don’t have that amount of food available, you need to consider boosting your animals with an energy supplement like molasses syrup.

However, much of it goes to waste during feeding. Cattle farmers in Vryburg came up with this simple, cost-effective home-made lick wheel that cattle quickly learn to use – and nothing is wasted.

You’ll need a 200-litre plastic drum to make your own. Place it on its side so cattle can’t knock it over, and stabilise it within a metal frame. Cut open the top side to accommodate a tyre, and fix an old tyre in the opening on an axle that will allow the wheel to turn.

Fill the drum halfway with a mixture of 20% molasses syrup, 5% urea and 75% water. As the tyre turns, the mixture sticks to the surface of the tyre, where the cattle can lick it off.

They soon realise that the tyre turns when they lick it, providing them with ever more of the mixture. The molasses syrup can supply animals with enough energy so they can walk long distances in search of grazing.

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