IT DOES EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TUB
For Lancashire dairy and arable farmer Andrew Hull, who farms with his brother Leslie and father Jimmy at Gibstick Hall Farm, Winmarleigh, near Preston, one of the biggest challenges when renewing the diet feeder 18 months ago was to find a machine that actually had a capacity that was as much as the manufacturers’ claimed.
This was particularly crucial for this farm, as one of the main reasons for the upgrade was to ensure they had a complete diet feeder that would feed all 220 milking cows their daily ration in a single load and also feed their 200 followers in similarly efficient fashion.
“We keep our system very simple, with all the milkers receiving a standard ration irrespective of their stage of lactation,” explains Andrew. “This means we can feed them all in one load, provided we have a machine with sufficient capacity.
“Our cows are housed all year round, and we calve all year round, so the diet feeder works 365 days of the year. It makes a big difference to our overall workload if we can feed all the milkers in one hit, particularly at times of the year when we are busy with arable work.
“We tried several machines that fell short of their listed capacity, but eventually found the Euromix twin vertical auger diet feeder which delivers all of the 22 cubic metres that Kuhn claims and means we can feed the milking herd in a single load.”
A typical ration at Gibstick Hall Farm comprises grass and maize silage in equal proportions, about 1kg/head of straw, a soya/rape protein supplement, distiller’s wheat, caustic wheat, molasses and minerals. This is fed flat rate across the milking herd to produce 35 litres/head/day, and results in an impressive average annual yield from the Holstein herd of 10,500 litres/cow.
“Our philosophy is that the cows will eat to appetite, so the higher yielders eat more of the ration than the lower yielders,” adds Andrew. “We don’t feed any additional feed through the parlour or out-of-parlour feeders, and the system works well for us.”
The Euromix 2270 has an automatic weighing facility, which allows accurate loading of all components of the ration for the milkers and also separate loads for the youngstock and dry cows which are fed on alternate days. The machine is also used for a weekly batch of caustic wheat, with 5 tonnes of home grown wheat mixed with 125kg of caustic soda and water to produce a very cost effective feed.
The Euromix is loaded using a JCB materials handler, with the lower volume components going into the mixer ahead of the forages.
“We can put a full load on in a couple of minutes, and by the time you’ve climbed off the JCB and up the ladder to look inside the hopper it is usually pretty well mixed,” says Andrew. “It typically takes about 40 minutes each day to load and feed all 220 milking cows.
“As we feed the youngstock and dry cows every other day, and we sometimes we want to reduce workloads over a weekend or when busy with other work, we may do as many as five mixes in a day, but this is easily achievable as the process is so quick.”
The mixing efficiency is a function of the effectiveness of the two vertical augers that have innovative and exclusive design features, giving the machine good capability with short and long fibre forages (including big bales) as well as incorporating concentrate feeds. Feed-out efficiency is, according to Andrew, as much about manoeuvrability, particularly with such a high capacity machine.
“The ability to move around the sheds easily does make life a lot easier, and the Euromix is certainly more manoeuvrable than other machines that we tried,” he says. “It is a big machine, so we have had a camera fitted at the back to allow us to see what is going on behind. The feed-out conveyor is a benefit too, as it means the machine is pretty flexible across several different building layouts.”