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Dryer Boosts Profits For Commercial Hay Growers
The old saying says,"Make hay when the sun shines," but two Barrhead, Alberta brothers with a commercial hay operation decided they didn't want to wait for perfect weather any more.
  Ken and Arnold Assenheimer have 600 acres of hay, 400 of which are used to grow timothy for the export market. Last year they designed and built their own hay dryer, devoting 1,000 man hours to the project.
  After one season using their home-built hay dryer, the Assenheimers say they're pleased with the results of their $100,000 investment. They expect the coming season to be even more successful.
  "The gross return on export timothy is up to $370 per acre, which we think is better than anything else you can do on the farm," Ken explains."We're paid up to $190 per ton which works out to $5.25 for a 60-lb. bale."
  The brothers' drying system is housed in a 40 by 60-ft. metal building with a concrete floor inset with metal grates made from oilfield pipe. They based their design on another dryer they went to look at near Toronto, Ontario, but made some of their own modifications. In addition to farming, Arnold is an engineer.
  The building houses twin dryers capable of simultaneously drying 800 bales each (a total of 10 160-bale wagon loads). It's also possible to operate only one dryer at a time.
  A bale wagon unloads the stacks onto the floor grates, and when the unit is filled to capacity, tarps are lowered along the sides of the stacks. A vacuum is created by a 15 hp axial fan in the pit below each of the 800-bale stacks and this pulls the tarps tightly against the stack. A 3 hp axial fan and a 1.2 million BTU natural gas heater are turned on to supply 140 degree F air to the plenum above the stack. Heated air is drawn down through the nine-layer stack, effectively drying it at a cost of $10 to $12 per ton.
  "Depending on the ambient air temperature, we can bring hay that was at 20 percent moisture down to 12 percent in 16 to 20 hours of drying," explains Ken. "Then we turn the heat off and blow ambient air through for a one to two hour cooling down period. At this rate, the dryer can be filled every day, effectively drying 40 tons of 20 percent moisture hay each day."
  The Assenheimers say the dryer allows them to produce a larger amount of consistently high quality hay.
  "In the world of export timothy, color is everything and by using the dryer, we have less sun bleaching, plus the hay is dust-free. The dryer allows us to increase the amount of premium hay we produce from 35 percent of our production to 60 percent," Ken says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ken Assenheimer, Frontier Forage, Site 3, Box 52, R.R. 3, Barrhead, Alberta, Canada T7N 1N, (ph 780 674-4317; fax 780 674-5178; E-mail: arnolda@telusplanet.net)

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2000 - Volume #24, Issue #2