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Self-Feeding Headgate For Silage Bags
Before Doug Strankman built his powered unloader for silage bags (see story at left), he built a self-feeding headgate for cattle that allows them to feed directly out of bags.
There are other self feeders on the market but what makes Strankman's feeder unique is that he fitted it with rollers that roll up the plastic from the bag as the feed is consumed. In fact, rolling up the plastic is what pulls the feeder ahead as cattle eat the feed.
The operator simply slices the plastic down either side of the bag and feeds the plastic onto the top and bottom rollers. "The plastic rollers are spring-loaded to keep plastic tight at all times, making a nice clean feeding area. The feeder is 16 ft. wide, which is big enough to fit around any size bag. You must set up a temporary fence about 15 ft. on either side of the bag so the feeder's portable panels can span the area between the fence and the bag."
The feedgate is bull-proof, built out of heavy 1/4-in. wall tubing. One key feature of the self-feeder is that the top layer of plastic - attached to the roller - acts as a "roof" to keep snow and rain off exposed silage. Strankman says people are surprised when he tells them he can feed 60 to 100 animals with one 16-ft. gate. "It takes about a week for cows to learn to stop pushing in for feed and wait for a spot to go in. Generally they feed for 1 1/2 to 2 hrs. in the morning and then again at night. In between, there are just a few stragglers," he notes. One advantage of feeding direct from bags is that it lets you spread cattle out, reducing traffic in the yard.
If necessary, Strankman can limit cattle from pushing the feedgate too far ahead by using a chain and stake at either end of the feeder.
To move the feeder ahead, he rolls up plastic using large hand cranks.
Strankman is currently obtaining a patent on the self-feeder. He plans to work with a manufacturer to bring it to market. Inquiries welcome.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Doug Strankman, Box 250, Blackfalds, Alberta T0M 0J0 Canada (ph 403 885-4000; fax 403 885-4800).

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #5