Lindsay Rausch gives us the rundown on this exciting event that puts practical farm skills to the test.
Top photo: Flickr/Brian/Creative Commons License
Draft Feed Team Racing is a fun event that lets the farm boys really shine.
There are some variations of Feed Team Racing that use hay wagons and different shaped courses; for today we’ll focus on the oval sled version. The sleds are typically on runners with a front, but I’ve also seen sleds that were flat-bottomed with no front rail to them, just a lifted edge.
The team is made up of a loader, driver and a draft team. The course is set up in an arena with the start/finish point being at one end. Situated on palates throughout the course are feed items such as bales of hay or straw, mineral blocks or grain sacks, which must be loaded and unloaded throughout the course, sometimes repeatedly. The loader is the only person who can help with getting the loads onto the sled, and penalty points may be added if the team fails to fully stop before the loader jumps off or if the team takes off before the loader jumps back on. The team with the fastest time wins.
When I was growing up this is how the draft team hitch day at the fair would end. A typical course: Halfway around the oval are four bales hay or straw and, on the opposite side, a stack of four grain sacks. The driver can go either way around the circuit but most go for the hay first since that makes staking easier. This is a timed event so the driver takes off to the first pickup, around the end of the loop, and picks up the other item. The team that makes the two circuits in the shortest amount of time wins.
When this event is done for fun and bragging rights the game can become a riot for the crowd. Rules vary by competition and can affect strategy. Example: Some rules only state that the loader needs to be on the sled at the start, finish and each time the sled goes around the end cones. Some strategies for trying to gain time in this case may include the loader running from the first pickup to the second by cutting across the ring to be ready to load. Or, if the loader is very strong, he may unload the hay and then carry all four bags of grain on his shoulders to the drop point. According to another race’s rules, this may not be allowed, as the driver and loader must both ride on the sled except when loading and unloading.
A video of a Feed Team Race:
Go Riding — and Driving!
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