26 March 1999

Rolling towards better value

A NEW system for processing whole-crop cereals during harvest could significantly improve its value as a feed, according to forager specialist Claas.

Similar in design to a maize corn cracker, Claas has developed a mill unit for whole-crop which fits into a forage harvester and features two fine-toothed rollers. These roller have 25% more teeth than the equivalent maize roller, have a different profile and rotate at greater speeds; one rotating 60% faster than the other.

Set close together, rollers grind and chop whole-crop material. According to Claas head of production Trevor Tyrrell up to 99% of whole-crop grain is either broken or marked after processing, increasing digestibility. The processed whole-crop is similar in appearance to coarse ground cereal, but it is much cheaper to produce: "Processed whole-crop will cost about £55/t compared with coarse ground cereal from a merchant costing £90/t at todays prices."

The new mills could be used this summer. While a new unit for a high capacity forage harvester costs £7550, contractors with corn crackers can buy a cereal whole-crop roller kit – including belts and pulleys – for £2400. Once installed, the unit can also process maize after a few adjustments, said Mr Tyrrell.