Handling Feed the Easy Way
by Harry R. O’Brien
photos by Donald K. O’Brien
from Country Gentleman – April 1949
Here are farmer ideas to help you end heavy handwork and speed up chores.
“We farmers aren’t lazy, but we just don’t like to work on the end of a scoop-shovel handle any more than we have to.”
The La Salle County, Illinois, feeder who said that has a homemade outfit that will shell out a 75-bushel load of corn anywhere on his farm in 20 minutes while he sits and watches or does something else. Lots of other feed-handling jobs which used to take hours of time and plenty of back bending are now done in a matter of minutes with little more than a lift of the hand, by means of chutes, augers, power lifts, portable elevators, movable hoppers, overhead catwalks, traveling feed boxes and other ideas similar to the examples shown on these pages. They are only a few examples. There’s the case, for instance, of the Indiana farm where two men feed 1000 head of cattle without handling any of the grain or roughage by hand. These are the days when feed handling had been powered-up to the point where 100 bushels of shelled corn can be loaded out of a bin into a truck in five minutes, and here’s how it’s done.
Whether on wheels or suspended from an overhead track, a feed cart takes a lot of the hand and leg work out of graining the dairy herd. This one, which Mark Purfeerst, Faribault, Minnesota, built in his new farm workshop last summer, is easily filled by gravity from a downspout at one end of the barn and is pushed along on a standard litter-carrier track. It is 24 inches wide, 40 inches deep and 59 inches long at the top. The front end, half closed, is slanted for easier scooping. The Purfeerst cart, operated by son Clarence, is of wooden construction and is hung to the litter carrier track by means of two strap-metal crosspieces with sidearms which are bolted securely onto the sides of the box.
Two easier methods for handling chopped roughage are represented by the side-door wagon (above) of Vernon Veatch, of Roberts, Illinois, which can be driven alongside the hopper without any maneuvering necessary with a rear-end delivery; and by the hopper (below) rebuilt by Herman Wussow, Black Creek, Wisconsin. Wussow hinged the hopper to the blower, put two small wheels on one end so that it could be pushed back out of the way when the wagons are changed. The wheels also make it easier to move the shaft of the blower and does not require an extra motor or power unit. Meshed gears take power off the blower shaft and transfer it by means of arms to a ratchet connected by collapsible shaft and universal joints to a rod which moves either a canvas wagon-bottom or false endgate in the wagon used for hauling the chopped feed. The ratchet action inches the load back to fall into the hopper of the blower. An old auto transmission is built into the machinery so that it can be thrown in and out of gear.
Four different feed handling jobs are all light work with this homemade power unit (above) which Curtis Olson (left) and his father built on their 400-acre farm in Martin County, Minnesota. It runs the elevator for thousands of bushels of grain, raises the wagon for dumping, operates a bale loader and turns a small-grain auger. For easier moving, it is mounted on skids. Unit cost around $125, including used 5-h.p. motor with switch box fastened on and the gear box from an old auto. Universal joint connects power to elevator; a tumbling rod operated by pulley and lever raises the front end of the wagon.
Four hay towers which Guy B. Davis, Marshall County, Indiana, built into the side of his new dairy barn (above) are work savers every dairy farmer could use in getting chopped hay down from overhead mows. Two on a side, these are 4 by 5 feet, outside dimensions, and about 25 feet high. Inside bottom doors of the chutes open into the stanchion room on the barn ground floor and are closed to keep out dust when hay is thrown down. The chutes can be filled with enough chopped hay to carry the herd several days. This saves time and work climbing into the mow to throw down a new supply once or twice every day.
With a stationary-type elevator mounted on an old auto chassis, Chase Brothers, Bureau County, Illinois, replace heavy scooping with power wherever they need it for a feed-handing job in their big-scale livestock operations. The elevator is sometimes even taken out to the field to load chopped silage or fodder. Chase Brothers feed 1200 cattle and 1100 to 1200 hogs a year and use power for every possible job on their 260-acre farm. A neighbor, Roger Hoover, mounted his stationary elevator on the rear axle and wheels of an old car so that it could be pulled anywhere behind a tractor or truck. For power, he has a 3-h.p. gasoline engine mounted tight on the frame, but in some locations where a connection is handy, he uses an electric motor to operate the elevator.
“Gosh, it’s handy,” said Robert Dodds (above) as he slid a bale of hay along the 16-foot overhead chute or catwalk to drop down into the 24-foot bunk in the feed lot. “If we didn’t have this,” Dodds explained, “we’ d have to throw the hay to the ground, then pick it up and carry it by hand or with a fork to the bunk.” He and his father feed 100 cattle a year and keep a herd of 15 milk cows on the farm which they operate in Des Moines County, Iowa. Loose hay was being fed when the Dodds built the catwalk in 1934; they put on the high, closed-in sides to keep hay from blowing away. A slightly different hayhandling idea enables Vernon Veatch, Ford County, Illinois, to feed beef cattle most of the 60 tons of chopped hay out of his mow without using a fork. In the center of his barn he has a big slatted V-type self feeder which rests on a concrete base with feed bunks underneath a 10-by-20 foot hole in mow floor.
An auger inside the casing powered by an electric motor, loads shelled corn out of the bin and into the truck at the rate of 100 bushels in five minutes on the farm of Roger Hoover, Bureau County, Illinois. Keeping a check on the auger is a lot easier for David Carlson, the farm hand, than the old scoop-shovel way. The same auger is used for moving grain from the truck into the bin. These two operations save a lot of work in handling tons of feed for the 300 hogs and the 200 steers that are raised a year on the 280 acre Hoover farm. Hoover also has an overhead system of 130 feet of 6-inch galvanized pipe for blowing ground feed instead of hand moving it from his grinder to trucks, bins, and self-feeders. This saves more labor than anything else on his Bureau County farm.
Corn without work where he needs it about sums up the advantages of this portable 1600-bushel crib which Herman H. Thomas, Rushville, Indiana, is building. It is 8 feet wide, 10 feet high and 50 feet long, can readily be taken apart and moved to any field where hogs are to be fed. It is bolted together instead of nailed. Wire sides are fitted in loose around the inside, and floor boards and air-channel covering are just laid on. Crib is filled with a grain elevator located at one end. The air channel, through the length of the crib, is in sections and large enough so that a drag line can be run into it for emptying by power instead of shoveling. If desired, a sheller can be fed and operated at one end of crib.