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Koepke Built Combine Harvests Corn, Stalks
The Koepke Brothers, Oconomowoc, Wis., harvest corn and stalks in one pass with an ingenious home-built rig featuring a New Idea Uni-Sheller mounted on a trailer and a tag-along Fox forage harvester.
"We've used the rig for three seasons and really like it," says Alan, who with his brothers David and James, designed the "Koepke Built" machine for their 350-head dairy operation.
"We filll our 30 by 80 silo with the chopped stalks for feeding to the dry cows and bred heifers. We built the machine because leaving the stalks in the field wastes a lot of valuable feed especially now with higher grain prices and the shortage of feed. We figure using the stalks for feed saves us about $10,000 a year in feed costs. The stalks aren't as high quality as corn silage so we do add grain when we feed the stalks.
"The optimum time to shell and chop is when the corn is at 25% moisture and the stalks are at 60% moisture. It takes about 100 acres of corn stalks to fill the silo. Once the silo is full and the stalks are dryer, we remove the recutter from the chopper and chop the stalks for bedding as we shell," Alan says.
The core of the "Koepke Built" machine is the 729A Uni-Sheller which is mounted on a modified 8 wheel, walking beam Knowles trailer. The trailer was widened and extended to hold the sheller, and to extend forward as the tractor hitch using 8 in. channel iron welded together.
Power for both the chopper and sheller comes from the tractor's 1,000 rpm pto. A gearbox and pto shaft from a Fox 1000 chopper sits directly behind the tractor on the trailer frame. The gearbox has two splines one extends straight back out of the gear-box for the chopper pto; the second spline extends out the side of the gearbox and connects with a shaft to the pulley system, salvaged from a Gehl chopper, that powers the sheller.
Alan replaced the 3 row Uni Sheller head with a two row 244 Deere head and modified it to fit on the front of the unit so both the chopper and sheller take care of two rows. The sheller's head is hydraulically adjustable from side to side so the operator can stay "on the row" with-out steering the tractor.
The only other modification made on the Uni Sheller was to add a conveyor to the discharge chute to carry chaff and cobs into the tag-along chopper. The canvas conveyor rides on two rollers powered off the feeder housing slip clutch via a belt and pulley system.
The tag-along chopper is a 6 ft. wide, 3000 Fox flail chopper which hitches to the back of the specially built trailer. Hitched up, the chopper picks up the two 38 in. rows the sheller just went over.
A 10 in. dia. auger mounted across the top of the chopper catches cobs and chaff from the sheller discharge conveyer and feeds the material into the chopper's auger where it's carried, along with the stalks, to the recutter with a 4 in. screen. The add-on auger is powered off the same sprocket that powers the chopper auger.
A special feature on the chopper is the hydraulic steering which Alan designed. He built an axle for the chopper with a hydraulic cylinder connected to the tie rod. This allows him to hydraulically steer the chopper for shorter, smoother turns.
The harvesting rig is powered with a 180 hp. Deere 4840 tractor but, says Alan, a 150 hp. tractor would be powerful enough. "With the 4840, we travel about 3 mph. through 150 to 160 bu./acre corn. Both the sheller and chopper can be used independently of each other," Alan points out.
He estimates that it took about three months and $17,000 to put the machine together.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Koepke Bros., c/o Alan Koepke, 37326 O'Neal Road, Oconomowoc, Wis. 53066 (ph 414 474-7154).


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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #1