Based in Yorkshire in the UK, JF Hudson develops innovative solutions, in the form of a diverse range of products and services, to help farmers minimise wastage and maximise yields. One of the company’s latest innovations, the Silo Crab, promises to curb the losses that can occur in the dairy shed.
According to a statement by the company, the Silo Crab is the dairy industry’s first device for collecting leftover material from the feed fence.
An attachment for a materials handler/loader, the Silo Crab has a wing that pivots horizontally on each side of a bucket with a rubber wear edge that runs on the floor. As the Crab travels along the feed passage, leftover feed is guided into the bucket by the angled wings.
The wings can be closed easily by the operator as required while moving. At the end, the doors are closed, which removes the need for digging the remaining leftover feed manually.
A farmer’s inspired idea
The company adds that the idea to design the Crab came from a request from award-winning dairy farmer Philip Metcalfe.
Metcalfe Farms milks 1 300 Holsteins at Washfold Farm near Leyburn, north Yorkshire. The farm has 965m of feed fence and more than six feed passageways, with 12 dead ends. Cleaning the passages was labour-intensive; at the end of each passage, leftovers were shovelled into the bucket manually by the operator.
For Metcalfe, the attachment has produced superb results, saving 45 minutes a day. With
staff now free to tackle other jobs, dairy shed labour costs have been cut significantly.
He says the Silo Crab has been a great investment. “It saves time and is good for staff morale. We also save diesel, because the loader doesn’t need to run for as long, and the high capacity of the bucket allows total mixed ration to be weighed more conveniently with no spillage.”
The Silo Crab was commended at the British Dairying 2021 Cream Awards. The statement says that one of the Cream Award judges, Paul Tompkins, said the application stood out immediately to any dairy farmers who had spent too much energy on manually sweeping feed passageways.
“This innovation offers a tool to farmers that is simple [and] straightforward but offers a practical time-saving solution and can help improve cow performance,” Tompkins said.
According to James Hudson, owner and managing director of JF Hudson, with the farming sector being built on tight profit margins, the Silo Crab offers real value.
Leftover feed can be gathered and weighed, allowing the farmer to calculate the total intake. Adjustments can then be made to the next feed based on what the cows consumed and therefore need. By monitoring feed intakes, instead of relatively expensive guesswork, the Silo Crab makes it possible to keep surplus to an absolute minimum.