The equipment that mixes the cows'ration plays an essential role in the day to day operation of a farm. Hence, the equipment must be managed and maintain properly or else, there will be variation in the cows' daily ration and this will affect the profitability of the farm.
It is very important to pay special attention to the mixing equipment and what's happening during the mixing process as they can help the farmers increase productivity.
Here are 4 ways to help mix and feed a consistent ration:
1) Evaluating Particle Size Of The Ration
One of the ways to ensure mixing uniformity is to evaluate the particle size distribution per animal group using the Penn State Shaker box. Take the samples at several points across the width of the feed bunk during load out or feed out and see if the results match the guidelines stated for animal group approaching the feed bunk.
It is also encouraged to evaluate the feed at the feed bunk multiple times between findings to determine the degree of particle or ingredient sorting by the cows. It is a good idea to test the sample at load-out and again approximately every two to three hours until the next load is delivered. By observing these samples, farmers are able to tell if there is any faulty equipment, improper mixing time or inappropriate moisture level.
The main objective should be to mix the same ingredients in a similar manner for each animal group, each feeding. It is crucial to gather the necessary information in order to achieve this goal.
2) Looking For Dead Spots
Dead spots are areas inside the mixer where the feed doesn't get mixed. This will cause problems as the ingredients are not mixed properly. Therefore, it is important to observe the mixer during mixing to see if there is any dead spots. They usually occur when the mixer is not on a level surface or if the door of the mixer is worn out.
3) Monitor Feed Volume And Mixing Time
Improper mixing usually occurs when too much feed is added to the load or if the equipment isn't suitable to handle such load. Besides inconsistent mixing, ingredients will also be lost over the top of the equipment while it is mixing.
A good idea to ensure equal length of time a load is mixed is to add a timer in the mixing unit so that all operators mix the same per load by each animal group.
4) Establishing A Maintenance Plan
It is recommended to have a maintenance plan to check the mixing unit for any signs of wear and tear on the blades, knives, doors, load cells and discharger. If you are unsure when is the last time the mixer's knife is being inspected, it might be wise to replace them.