7 July 1995

Push button for fresh forage

A DUTCH feeding system exhibited at the show is designed to feed silage once a week, yet provide fresh forage twice a day at the push of a button.

An electric motor is used to move a feed barrier towards the forage, saving labour and improving stock performance. Grass and maize silage – blocks or bales – can be loaded into the feed passage every 6-8 days. "The silage is kept 1m away from the stock, so the silage fed is always fresh," said Janet Breembroek of makers, Weelink.

In a survey of 25 of the 300 Dutch and German farms using the barriers, 70% claimed a rise in forage intakes, 65% a production increase and 99% thought animals were calmer.

Access to silage 24 hours a day increases forage intakes by 13%, saving 25% on concentrates, the company claims. "This makes silage use more profitable and milk protein is increased."

The space needed for feeding was reduced so one stall was required for 2.5 cows.

"Building requirements are reduced by 30% for new cubicle houses, saving on construction costs. In existing buildings this can provide space for extra cubicles. These savings can be offset against the cost of the barriers at about £170 a cow place."

Weelinks feeding system moves the feed barrier towards the forage.