Feed fluffy waste back to the cows

LANGHAM, Sask. — Feed costs money, a fact cattle don’t seem to appreciate. They’re picky eaters, carefully selecting only the bits and bites appealing to their taste buds, leaving the rest to waste.

So, it falls to the cattle producer to get into the alleys with his skid steer loader and scrape up the feed that’s been pushed out onto the floor and then try to mix it in with the fresh feed or push it out the barn door.

Research has shown that cattle will consume much of that waste feed if it’s fluffed up and blended with fresh feed.

The result is that dry matter consumption increases, according to Roger Bos of Pro-Line Manufacturing in Warman, Sask. Bos was at the July 17-19 Ag In Motion show near Saskatoon to promote the Pro-Feed automatic robotic feed pusher, which recycles the waste instead of pushing it out the barn door.

“Cows naturally dig for the good stuff they like, so they’re always digging holes and pushing the other feed away,” said Bos.

“The Pro-Feed mixes that snotty, dried-out feed with the good feed underneath, which they can’t reach easily. When the feed is mixed like that, consumption goes up three to four percent per cow, just because it’s fresher. It’s freshened up every time the machine runs, and you can run it many times every day.

“It has a pair of 105-amp batteries, providing enough energy to travel 5,000 feet of barn floor on each charge. That’s almost one mile of barn floor. It can do the biggest barns in Canada.”

Bos says the Belgium company started development on the machine about seven years ago, but didn’t bring it to market until two years ago. The environment in a cattle facility has high moisture and plenty of acids that destroy electronic devices.

“That’s why it took another five years to get this thing into full production. They had the machine working quite well from the very start. That’s all proven technology. But they wanted to make sure the electronics would stand up in a cattle facility. Everything electronic is now well encased and protected and it has brushless motors”

Pro-Feed can be programmed to be totally automated, or it can be remotely controlled through a computer or smartphone. Bos says 17 units were sold in Western Canada in the first year. The list price on the robot is $30,000.

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