Friday, March 29, 2019

Calf Starter Particle Size

Dr. Noah Litherland (Vita Plus company) has a good YouTube presentation on calf starter particle size. [ ] This was included in the VitaPlus Starting Strong posting dated 3/20/2019.

Main point - calves prefer eating calf starter with low fines content.

How do we create fines on farm?
His points:
  • each time we run pellets through an auger fines content may go up 2 to 5%.
  • small diameter augers cause more fines increase than larger diameter ones.
  • the steeper the incline of the auger the greater the increase in fines.
I would add one more factor - higher speed auger operation creates more fines than slower speeds. 

One operation that I worked with experienced a fines issue in grower pellet feed - observed between 10 and 15 percent. 

 Without Dr. Litherland's guidance I collected this information:
1. Pellets were transported to the dairy in one of their 10-wheeler dump trucks. Samples collected at this point had between 2 and  4 percent fines. 

2. Pellets were dumped into the same pit that handled the farm's grains - transferred to a bin by elevator - no auger.

3. Now for the good part - they were transferred out of this bin using a small diameter auger set at a very steep angle due to space limitations, very high speed to save time filling the two-wheel grain cart used for supplying the self feeders at heifer barn.

4. This grain cart used an auger at the bottom to deliver pellets to the back of the cart where another vertical auger delivered the grain to the self feeders.

5. The staff person at the heifer barn refilled the self feeders from this two-wheel grain cart two times a week. He was observed running the PTO for the grain cart with the tractor engine at nearly full speed - to minimize time filling self feeders. 

6. A sample collected from this discharge auger was found to have between 10 and 15 percent fines. This may be compared to a sample checked as the pellets arrived at the farm less than 4 percent fines.

The dairy was very effective in creating fines.

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