Precision silage aims to maximize yield

Precision cow feeding is now largely based on science, on the enormous amount of research that has gone into ruminant nutrition over the last century or so.

For the most part this naturally focused on how a cow’s digestive system works, but over the years it has extended to how food is fed and now it has extended to the design of the machines in which it is prepared. .

Demand for milk and meat

With the ever-increasing amount of knowledge available, it is inevitable that specialization in a particular facet of the whole operation will occur, and that is exactly what Siloking has done; he builds machines to feed the cows, and that’s it.

This might be seen as a risky business given the reported increase in vegan lifestyles, but the company sees this as just a distraction as they prefer to take note of global protein consumption instead. animal.

Shamelessly premium product, Siloking is distributed by Kverneland in several European countries

This shows a steady increase as incomes generally rise around the world, and as they do, people can afford to include more protein in the diet, and the preference is for it to come from animals. .

Ruminants happen to be the most efficient way to extract protein from vegetation like grass and convert it into a form that we are able to digest, and there is a significant part of the world that is only suitable to growing grass.

The cow as an economic unit

So this is the philosophy that guides Siloking and its accompanying mantra – that the cow is customer number one, with the farmer himself coming second in the pecking order.

Siloking Trailed Feeder
Sleek design is evident throughout the range

Fine words, but how do they translate into the practical task of building a machine that will increase cow yield?

Here there is another guiding mantra, and that is “precision”. It’s all about being precise throughout the feeding operation according to Richard Vogt, export manager for Siloking.

Precision brings control

Richard suggests that there are three phases in a planned diet. The first is the one that is intended, the second is the one that is mixed, and finally, there is the one that is actually consumed by each individual cow.

The aim is to try to ensure that the latter matches the former as closely as possible and the correct selection and use of the mixer is crucial to achieving the desired result.

USB data control key
The control box that manages the data is placed above the two-speed gearbox

Accuracy starts with the right mix, which means correct and reliable weighing of ingredients.

To ensure that the correct amount of each ingredient is included, each model has a frame to support the bowl.

This allows load cells to be inserted between the two rather than on the axles or drawbar, which is often the case when the base plate of the tank doubles as the frame.

Weigh Cell Supply Vessels
Load cells connect the body to a rigid frame frame

Located this way, they will last longer and be more precise. All Siloking mixers have a steel box frame, to better minimize torsion, thus reducing the random mechanical loads that the load cells can be subjected to.

Software encourages accuracy

Accurate weighing is essential to get the diet as close to the intended diet as possible.

Being able to weigh ingredients accurately is a start, but the running total must be known as well as the final weight, which can then be compared to the desired mixture.

Precision Bowl Feeder Control Box
The antenna of the ISOBUS compatible data transfer system is located above the hydraulic hose support

This comparison is important to Richard, as it gives an indication of the accuracy achieved and operators can therefore work to improve it.

All of this can be done via the company’s own software and numbers displayed on an ISOBUS display in the tractor and on up to four loaders, as well as uploaded to the farm computer via a USB drive that slots into in the control box located above the gearbox. .

The auger is everything

The pursuit of precision begins with the machine’s design, according to the company, and it’s the attention to detail that makes its bins particularly capable and efficient in food processing.

The most fundamental concept that is adhered to is that the tank is built around the auger. It is the auger that does the work and therefore everything else must be centered for it to work effectively.

Auger Gearbox Power
Seelox hardened stainless steel is used on augers and can be specified for soil

Although the height of the auger is the most obvious dimension, it is the width that matters to engineers.

A narrow auger will mix more evenly across its width and it may spin faster due to a lower torque requirement, important when working on slabs or silage bales.

Capacity versus efficiency

Unfortunately, tall and narrow augers won’t fit in low buildings, but more importantly, they limit the size of the bowl which must also be narrow to fit the auger, reducing overall capacity.

Precision auhertub
Bowls are shaped to fit the auger and encourage mixing on two and three bowl models

Therefore, as with most agricultural machinery, a happy medium must be found. In this case, the conundrum is solved by the inclusion of a two-speed gearbox, allowing a faster speed for cutting and a more economical speed for mixing.

Ensuring the surface of the soil is completely swept by the auger is a fundamental feature of all mixers, and the bowls are either shaped to match the diameter of the auger or fitted with internal baffles to prevent dead spots.

Shape to stir

Still, Siloking has another trick up its sleeve in slimmer tub shaping. At each end it is bent into a semicircle rather than rolled up.

Steel tank feed
The front and back of the bowl are formed with flat sections to promote mixing

In doing so, the mix encounters greater resistance from the walls as it passes along them, slowing down the outer layer, causing it to mix more completely with the material behind.

Forming the metal in this way is more expensive, but the action on the feed and the reduction in mixing time due to this action is worth the extra cost, the company claims.

Stress reduction

There are a multitude of discharge options and combinations available to suit the farm situation. An important feature of all is the use of a wastegate on the belt drive motors.

wastegate motor
The dump valve is attached to the end of the drive motors so that the belts direct excess oil to the rear axle

As tractors got bigger over the years, the power of hydraulics caused more and more frequent engine failures. With a pressure relief valve built into every engine, the problem is now solved.

The features noted here are typically found on the trailed range, as well as self-propelled machines that add the ability to automatically load the tub via a milling unit on a forward conveyor belt.

Self-propelled for more precision

These machines may seem extravagant to most ranchers, but they have the advantage of cutting silage as they load, saving even more mixing time, and the tank is located between the axles, which reduces the overall height.

Kverneland mixing auger
Kverneland Product Specialist Allan Hetherington with Siloking’s Richard Vogt

They are a popular choice on the continent, particularly in the dairy region of the Alps where Siloking is based, and follow the company’s philosophy of maximizing the yield from each cow through precision feeding and feed management.

Silo doesn’t expect to sell large quantities in Ireland, but Richard Vogt suggests they shouldn’t be seen as a rich man’s plaything, as specialist farms will always benefit from specialist machinery.

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