Farmer Focus: Mill-and-mix unit becomes uneconomical

We have just had our last week of making our own pig feed after at least 40 years of doing so. We have three reasons for ending this practice:

  • The drier/grain store adjacent to our mill that holds all our wheat and barley for the pigs has seen better days, to put it mildly.
  • The mill itself is in a similar state. The straights storage bin is corroded and difficult to clean internally, the elevators and mixers have seen better days and the building housing the mill is basically a tin shed.
  • Dave Toyne, the guy who has done the milling and mixing for the past 30 years (he was a pigman here for 10 years before that), is 69 years old. He also has done lorry driving – delivering feed to various sites and delivering pigs to the abattoir). He does want to keep going until he’s at least 70 – that’s his choice and he is still physically capable. Even though Dave has outlasted the mill and the drier, we still have plenty of work for him in other departments.

See also: How the Finnish prevent tail-biting in their non-docked pig herds

We have been trialling a mobile mill-and-mix company for the past 12 months during Dave’s holidays. I have to say they have done a very good job in this time and, quite frankly, if you factor in the capital outlay of a new mill and mix plant and building, they win.

We shall see if this is still the case in 12 months when I review. These modern mobile mills give you so much flexibility and accuracy that I am expecting some performance benefits as well.

We are rolling the wheat and grinding the barley in each mix, so that we get a really good grist with no more dust than you would get from pellets.

With our old mill, although the dispersion tests usually came back OK, we did get separation in the meal when it was blown into the bins.

We are not seeing this with our new system, and you can feel the nutrient density is higher when you fill a big scoop to feed the lactating sows with the new meal.

David Owers is a Farmer Focus writer in Lincolnshire. Read his biography.