Calf Care Checklist: Designing On-farm Starter Storage – Glenn Andler, Vita Builders

Posted on August 23, 2017 in Starting Strong - Calf Care
By Glenn Andler, Vita Builders LLC general manager
Are you considering construction of calf starter bins on your farm?  Thorough planning prior to construction can save you time and hassle, as well as dollars lost in spoiled feed.  It can also help you build these units so they can be used in the safest way possible.  Consider the following points as you design and construct new bins.

1.  Calf starter needs to be kept in a dry environment.

2.  The storage structure needs to be completely emptied monthly to prevent old product from building up and possibly mixing into fresh product.Buildup tends to fall off in clumps and could be moldy due to collected moisture.  This can deter calves from eating starter or cause mycotoxin-related health challenges if consumed.

3.  Storage unit hoppers should be constructed at a minimum of 60 degrees for flow.

4.  We have found using an ultra-high-molecular-weight (UHMW) plastic liner minimizes buildup and is easy to clean. This can be used in both hoppers built onsite and conveyor systems.

5.  Some farms have starter delivered by bulk trucks and stored inside of a building.  Our Vita Builders team has made weather-tight, ground-controlled roof hatches.

We have fastened a Schuld bin ground-controlled lid to a 20-inch diameter steel tube, which has been welded in a sheet of steel at the angle of the existing flat roof and fastened to this roof.  We have also installed small Schuld bins inside with hand slides and extended fill tubes through roofs to fill. This allows a storage unit inside of a farm building to be filled safely and be weather tight.

Schuld bins can be made to discharge at any height, but the normal height is 30 inches above the base. This allows a chain agitator to be installed after the bin is in place. We often build bins at 40 inches to more easily service them.  However, if a customer wants a hand slide to discharge to a cart or bin, it can be built to accommodate any height.

6.  If an auger is used, it is best if the incline is kept under 30 degrees and the auger should be at least 6 inches long to prevent build-up.  Once again, we recommend monthly clean-up to prevent buildup.

If a Schuld auger is used, make sure a 20-inch-long, 2/3-pitch bolt on the starter flighting is used even if the auger needs to be shortened to install the starter flighting section. This allows the auger drive to start easier under load because it does not fill the rest of the tube to full volume. The nice thing about a Schuld auger is that it is flood fed, so it has no tail bearing.  That means the auger can be removed even if the bin has product in it.  Simply loosen the tube clamp where the auger clamps on the tail piece and disconnect the motor. To reinstall, hand-turn the flighting auger and it will pull itself back in position because the auger tube butts onto the tail piece.

7. When considering bin size, ask for quotes on at least two sizes with the same diameter.  Adding a ton or more does not cost much.  The majority of a bin’s cost is in the top and bottom of the structure.  Adding a sidewall is an easy way to get more capacity with limited additional cost.

Click here for more questions you may ask as you plan your bulk calf feed storage.

Category: Equipment
Facility design
Starting Strong - Calf Care