Homemade Beet Grinder
by Ken Gies of Fort Plain, NY
This is my small beet grinder I built about 6 years ago. It has done nearly daily duty for that time. The beet fodder is added to my goat and rabbit rations which are largely homemade. Adding the pulp to the grain rations has aided me in having goat milk throughout the winter months. My beets are the Colossal Red Mangels. Many grow up to 2 feet long. I cut off enough for a day’s feed and grind it up each morning. Beets oxidize like cut apples. Fresh is best!
The beet pulp is mixed into grain rations with minerals and supplements added. The pulp is usually very moist so it makes the ground grains into a mash that the rabbits and goats seem to enjoy. The moisture helps hold the minerals and other ingredients in correct suspension so that all the nutrition is in every bite. ( At least that is the theory.) The rabbits still get a tiny bit of pellets but I am almost ready to drop them from the ration.
The machine is based on one of many internet apple grinders that use countersunk head screws as the cutter mounted in a wooden roller. Since a beet is a lot firmer and more fibrous than an apple, I opted for small plow bolts mounted in a metal roller. It is a small diameter flat pulley that I scrounged from somewhere and mounted on a shaft with roller bearings mounted in pillow blocks. The motor is a 1/4 horse 1725 rpm unit with nearly matching pulleys on the driven and driving ends. The diameter of the cutter head is nearly 4 inches, bolt head to bolt head. If you were to use a larger roller or make one from pipe, a larger pulley on the cutter head would help to gear down the speed for the little motor. OR you could use a bigger motor… but who would do that?
In the past I have made a number of rollers by using schedule 40 pipe and spacing it from the center axle with three or four bolts welded inside the pipe and then to the axle. Another way is to buy a couple of tin pulleys that just fit inside the pipe and weld the pipe to them while mounted on the axle rod.
I made the actual roller into a grinder by drilling and tapping threaded holes into the steel roller then turning in the 3/8 inch plow bolts until the shoulder snugged on the roller face. The feed tube is 4 inch pipe and the shear bar is a piece of 1/4 by 2 inch angle iron welded so that it is close to the bolt heads. The pillow blocks have some adjustment to them so I was able to set the roller tightly to the shear after welding it all up.
The only improvement I would make is to fabricate a wider grinder roller. Then I would make the feeder housing fit close to the roller curvature. That way, no beet juice or pulp would get into the bearings and freeze the thing up in cold weather. There are no safety features on this rig. I use a broken hammer handle for a pusher. It is slowly being whittled down each day as the beet gets ground up and I bump the grinder itself. Fingers would not fair too well in there… Be careful and keep hormone fueled daredevils clear of the inside of this tempting little device.
Innovate your hearts out and plan on planting a mangel patch this year. I grew a bit less than 300 row feet of beets here in central New York. They last from late fall to late spring when the grass starts. There are two goat does (one in milk) and two standard rabbit does and a buck, plus the litters that come every 10 to 12 weeks all winter long. The beets provide about half of the concentrate ration daily. The rest is mixed organic grains and good tender hay in quantity.