Feed is the largest and most burdensome expense faced by any operation with livestock. As labour costs increase, more and more farmers are turning to automated feeding to streamline and find efficiencies, and Harvestore and HIVE are leading the way.
Harvestore structures and XL Unloaders allow for feeding at the push of a button and when partnered with the Hive AgriCHEF Feeding System, farmers are taking control with the ability to manage all aspects of feeding from recipes, rations, batching, mixing and delivery.
Farmers can now set their feeding schedule in advance and feed is transported from the Harvestore to the feed kitchen, with HIVE AgriCHEF maintaining the amount of haylage, silage and high-moisture corn to their recipe’s exact specifications. AgriCHEF can mix multiple recipes, and provides realtime reports on feed quantity and quality.
Mark Tibben of Tibben Farms in Brinston, ON recently went operational with automated feeding, deploying four Harvestore structures, Hive AgriCHEF automation that operates their unloader and feed kitchen, and a Lely Vector robot which does the feeding.
Tibben says automation has greatly reduced time spent feeding and milking—from 2-3 hours a day to 20 minutes a day. The increased efficiency meant Mark’s brother was able to take a vacation, and also has more time to spend on his cash crop operation and eliminates the need to hire custom operators.
In 2013, Marcel and Annika Steen of Celmar Dairy in Norwich, ON constructed three Harvestore structures. With two Lely milking robots already installed, Steen was no stranger to farm automation, but was finding the feeding of 140 head of dairy cattle to from a bunker silo to be time consuming and grossly inefficient “it took me one hour to make one mix of feed,” recalls Steen.
The Martin family, which owns Creek Edge Farms in Elora, ON got the idea to automate while building a new barn in the summer of 2015. “Instead of having to rewire the feed room again we decided it made sense to do everything at once,” says Javan Martin. Javan and his father, Oscar ventured into automation by installing a system anchored by Harvestore storage and driven by Hive automation.
Javan Martin (L) and Curtis McLean explain the HIVE AgriChef to a delegation from CST Woosan, Korea.Martin’s AgriCHEF system operates their Harvestores, Unloaders, supplement bins and two conveyers that move the feed to the mixer.
The Hive system also allows Martin to send high moisture corn to their two De’Laval robots, saving them thousands each year in feed costs. “Feeding with high-moisture corn can save $16,000 to $22,000 a year per robot in feed costs,” says Curtis McLean, general sales manager at Ontario Harvestore. “Farmers are taking control of their own feed supply rather than being locked into what they get from the traditional feed mill,” he says.
The only time Martin has to be hands-on is when he’s driving 3-4 loads of feed into the barn each day.
“In the old barn we had a mixing cart and had to make five batches a day, which took me two hours—an hour in the morning and an hour at night,” says Martin. “Now it only takes me 15-20 minutes a day because I don’t have to mix the feed.”
A BETTER BALANCE
Martin says adding feed automation allows him to spend more time taking care of his 90 head of cattle and doing more field work. And that means a lot for this family operation that consists of Javan and his dad, brother Terry and a hired hand.
There was a time when the demands of a milking operation precluded living a balanced life—or having a life at all. The daily grind of feeding and milking left precious little time for anything else. Harvestore and Hive are helping more dairy farmers achieve higher quality feed and milk, greater efficiency and cost savings.
Marcel Steen says the labor-saving automation of the Harvestore and HIVE AgriCHEF system gives his family “100% flexibility” – including more time for family activities. And they no longer have scheduled chore times.
“Even if we’re not here, everything will run,” says Annika. “The cows are fed, the milking will get done. We still have our work to do every day—we just do it when we get to it.”
Most importantly to Mark Tibben, “It gives us the flexibility to enjoy our time together as a family while not compromising the quality of what’s going on in the barn.”
For more information on how the Harvestore and HIVE systems can help save you valuable time and money, call Ontario Harvestore Systems today!