1996 - Volume #20, Issue #2, Page #27[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Heated Feedbunks Serve Up Hot Meals"It's tenth grade science. The more you do to maintain a cow's body temperature, the more milk she'll produce for you," says Roy Noble explaining his reasons for building a heating system for feedbunks that provides "hot meals" for his cows during winter.
He says the system lets him use more economical feedstuffs and keeps his 150 Holsteins from wasting energy just to warm up their food in cold weather.
"I'm able to feed low cost wet brewer's grains from a local brewery and cull potatoes from a New York potato chip plant, both of which always froze before," says Noble. "At the same time, my cows make milk more efficiently than ever before."
The heart of Noble's system is a 110,000 btu fuel oil-fired boiler. It's housed in a 10 by 12-ft. poured concrete shed and heats a concrete feed bunk just outside.
To heat the 2-ft. wide, 70-ft. long bunk, Noble lined the botom with 3-in. Styrofoam insulation and 1/2 in. of aluminum reflective insulation. Four hundred ft. of 1/2-in. dia. polybutyl pipe was then laid in four loops on top of the insulation.
The pipe was covered with a layer of sand, then concrete. Bunk mangers were lined with 2-in. thick, 4-in. sq. ceramic tile which helps conduct the heat to the feed. Biodegradable anti-freeze circulates through the bunk from the boiler.
"It's very energy efficient," says Noble. Operating around the clock in winter, it uses only about 4 gal. of fuel oil a day in even the coldest weather, he says, adding that he's measured feed temperatures as high as 115? F in the bunk.
He also provides warm whey to cattle at various locations around the farm. It's trucked in hot from New Jersey and stored in four big insulated stainless steel holding tanks. A 20 gpm stainless steel centrifugal pump delivers the whey via underground lines to liquid feeders around the feedlot. Some are as far as 500 ft. away.
Noble installed his heated feedbunk system for about $7,500 in 1994. Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Roy Noble, RD 1, Box 91, Springville, Pa. 18844 (ph 717 942-4244).
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