Livestock farmers want to ensure that their animals ingest enough nutrients to be able to produce and reproduce. The challenge, however, is ensuring that the ingredients of such a balanced diet or ration, which usually consist of different textures and quantities, are thoroughly distributed and mixed so that each animal receives the right amount of feed. For this purpose, the farmer needs a mixer that will guarantee that each mouthful is properly balanced and well mixed.
There are a variety of feed mixers on the market, each with specific features and functions. Stockfarm spoke to Marius Ras of Rovic Leers, Dick van der Westhuizen of Diamond Implements, and Aimee Russouw of Alltech to find out what a good feed mixer should look like.
What are the traits of a good feed mixer?
Marius: For any farm, large or small, the basic outcomes in terms of feed mixing traits are quality mixing, correct cutting lengths of roughage, and accurate mixing compositions. However, dairy and meat production units have different requirements.
For dairy production units the cutting length of roughage needs to be around 5 to 7cm. This matches the width of the cow’s mouth and is long enough to trigger the necessary rumen activity for increased milk production, but not so long that it leads to selective intake of only concentrates, which may lead to acidification. The mixer must be able to process roughage quickly and accurately into these cutting lengths during mixing. A cutting action rather than a tear action will ensure cleaner cuts, which will provide better rumen stimulation.
The energy component of the ration is greater in meat production systems, and roughage is added mainly to manage acidification. A shorter cutting length can assist with easier and higher intake. The risk of selective intake is also eliminated.
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