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They Turn Harvestores Into Regular Silos
"We could replace these top unloaders every year for less than the cost of maintaining Harvestore's bottom unloader and the feed quality is as good or better than ever," says Curtis Tabor, of Souder, Mo., a dairyman who converted two of his three 25 by 80-ft. Harvestore silos to top unloading using a conversion kit sold by Hanson Silo Company, Lake Lillian, Minn.
Tabor built his three Harvestore's in 1978 but quickly became disenchanted with their performance. "Not only do they require a tremendous amount of expense to maintain, but the feed quality is poor and the unloaders are very slow. A dome of feed forms over the unloader and is exposed to outside air often causing spoilage. And because the unloader is at the bottom of the silo you have to dig it out every time it breaks down."
Tabor's pleased with the advantages of top unloading. "You can put forage in at a much higher moisture content and feed is always fresh since you can cut it evenly off the top each day. Forage stays packed tighter because it settles and isn't continually shifting downward. One of the biggest advantages of converting to top unloaders is that we can feed out three times faster than with bottom unloaders," he says, noting that he plans to convert his third Harvestore in the near future.
Tabor converted the silos himself with lots of advice from Hanson Silo Company. He has built six poured concrete silos since putting up the three structures and says he won't ever put up another Harvestore.
Ron Buchanan, vice president of marketing for Hanson Silo Company, says the company has converted a number of Harvestores. "The primary complaint is the cost of maintaining the unloaders but most farmers interested in converting have also experienced structural problems," notes Buchanan. "There's a glut of Harvestores on the market right now in part becuase they don't work the way farmers were told they would."
What accounts for the number of happy Harvestore owners?
"One reason is that not many farmers are willing to admit they've made a mistake once they've spent that much money. Also, problems don't always show up in the first few years. Most Harvestores were sold in the last 10 to 15 years so some of these problems are just starting to peak. I think that in the next few years there's going to be a tremendous demand for our kind of conversion kit," says Buchanan.
Hanson Silo Company tells farmers they can convert their Harvestores to top unloading for less than the cost of buying a rebuilt bottom unloader, which is usually around $18,000. Doors, chutes, and other needed hardware costs approximately $4,000 and the cost to ship and install the equipment is about $2,000. A new 25-ft. unloader, specially manufactured to fit the Harvestore, sells for $9,000, bringing the total cost of a conversion kit to about $15,000. The cost can be lessened somewhat by selling off the used bottom unloader. The company recently took one in on trade and sold it for $6,000.
Buchanan says it wouldn't normally pay to buy a used Harvestore and convert it to top unloading. "A used Harvestore costs around $12,000 to buy and between $10,00 and $15,000 to clean and set up. Add on the cost of the conversion, and you've got considerably more than you would spend if you simply put up a new stave silo for about $20,000 plus the cost of an unloader," he says.
Once converted, both Tabor and Hanson agrees that the Harvestore isn't any better than any other silo on the market. "It's no better than a conventional concrete stave silo but at least it doesn't cost you an arm and a leg to maintain and operate," notes Tabor.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Hanson Silo Company, Lake Lillian, Minn. 56253 (ph 612 664-4171).

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1985 - Volume #9, Issue #3