Tilton Farms adds vertical mixer to minimize feed waste
Anderson, Missouri-based Tilton Farms is a long-time cow-calf operation that is currently branching into backgrounding more calves. Rex Tilton is focused on a mission to produce the finest Angus beef you can find anywhere. To achieve his ambition, Tilton closely scrutinizes all aspects of his farming operations — from equipment to ways to reduce feed waste.
“Sometimes we get set in our ways as farmers. We need to make sure we are at least looking at what we are doing and change our operation accordingly to be effective,” said Tilton. “We learn things every day.”
Minimize waste with a vertical mixer
One area that Tilton identified as an opportunity for improvement was his hay feeding process. The way round bales were being handled on his operation led to a lot of feed waste.
“We were just rolling hay out,” recalled Tilton. “Our wastage was just out of sight. We work hard every day to bale hay. We certainly don’t want to throw those resources away.”
Much of the waste was attributed to hay handling practices.
“Like a lot of farmers, we leave our hay outside. So at the bottom of that bale, you are going to have a little bit that is wet.”
Typically, unintentional wet hay becomes waste since cattle will leave it untouched. Rex approached his local Vermeer dealer, Eubanks Equipment, in search of a solution.
“Rex came to us looking for a TMR (total mixed ration) mixer saying that he was going to start backgrounding more cattle,” said Andrew Sherman, Eubanks Equipment. “I visited with Rex and learned a little more about his operation. We found a mixer that would work for him. We set it up on his tractor, ran it and got him going.”
The Vermeer VS510 single-screw vertical mixer quickly proved its worth by allowing Tilton to maximize his hay supply while helping him reduce feed waste.
“When you put the hay in the vertical mixer, it mixes everything up, which includes the wet bottoms of the bales, and they eat every bite of it,” said Tilton.
The VS510 single-screw vertical mixer is capable of processing 6-ft by 5-ft (1.8-m by 1.5-m) large round bales. Its design helps ensure feed ends up in the bunk, not left in the tub. The screw flighting aggressively moves feed up and over the center of the screw, which ultimately helps with full circulation and a consistent mix of feed in the tub.
“The size of the machine that we bought fits our needs great here,” said Tilton. “I typically put one bale in it at a time. I weigh that bale and then I start adding the grain to it. I add water to get the grain to bind to the hay.”
The VS510 vertical mixer cuts the hay to about 5 in (12.7 cm) long. “The cattle seem to digest it much better through the vertical mixer than they do just putting round bales out and letting them eat it at will,” said Tilton.
Measure rations for success
The VS510 single-screw vertical mixer helps Tilton extend hay supplies by allowing him to mix a variety of feedstuffs and control the exact mix of the rations — helping him minimize feed waste.
“With a TMR mixer, a producer can cut down on input costs by knowing what they are putting into the ration,” says Sherman. “Whether it is a grain, mineral, liquid, silage, silage/hay or dry hay, producers know the exact amount they’re feeding.”
Vermeer vertical mixers are equipped with a four-point scale to help producers optimize rations and be more confident in the readouts compared to a three-point scale. Producers can conveniently view the mixer’s load weight on their smart device with Bluetooth connectivity.
“At the end of the day, you can’t improve on what you don’t measure,” explains Tilton. “With the Vermeer vertical mixer, we can weigh product by each component, and we know exactly what these cattle are getting. That helps us control our costs.”
More feed, less waste
Tilton Farms continually explores new options to drive efficiency and work to achieve his mission of producing the finest Angus beef. When Rex Tilton identified inefficiencies due to excessive hay wastage, he turned to Vermeer and the VS510 vertical mixer. Tilton has minimized hay loss while gaining control of feed rations.
“I choose more feed and less waste with Vermeer,” said Tilton.
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