The Silo Crab from JF Hudson
The Silo Crab from JF Hudson.

Reacting to the big losses that can occur in the dairy shed at feed time, JF Hudson has come up with the Silo Crab, a unique means to tackle feed waste and help farmers to be more profitable.

The device collects leftover material from the feed fence giving significant savings on expenditure, time and manpower, and its innovative design has been recognised being Commended at the British Dairying 2021 Cream Awards.

The Silo Crab is an attachment for a materials handler/loader. It has a wing that pivots horizontally on each side of a bucket with a rubber wear edge that runs on the floor. As it travels along the feed passage, the leftover feed is guided into the bucket by the angled wings. The wings can easily be closed 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.

The design followed a request from dairy farmer Philip Metcalfe to provide a method of quickly and effectively collecting leftover feed from the feed fence. Metcalfe Farms milks 1,300 pedigree Holsteins in North Yorkshire, and the farm has 965m of feed fence, spread across six feed passageways, with 12 dead ends. Cleaning the feed passages was a labour-intensive process, at the end of each passage leftovers were shoveled into the bucket manually by the operator.

Manual labour is no longer required to gather uneaten forage at the end of a dead-end passage
Manual labour is no longer required to shovel up uneaten forage at the end of a dead-end passage.

Mr Metcalfe knew eliminating feed wastage played a key part in driving cost and operational efficiencies. He approached JF Hudson to come up with a solution, and using its bespoke CAD n Cut service created the Silo Crab.

The attachment has produced superb results saving 45 minutes per day. Additionally, with staff members now freed-up to tackle other jobs, it has shaved-off £9,581 on dairy shed labour costs each year.

Mr Metcalfe said the Silo Crab had been a great investment.

“It saves time and is good for staff morale,” he added. “We’re also saving diesel because the loader doesn’t need to run for as long and the high capacity of the bucket allows TMR to be weighed more conveniently with no spillage.”

The Cream Award judges said the application stood out immediately to any dairy farmers who have consumed too much energy on manually sweeping feed passageways.

“This innovation offers a tool to farmers that’s simple, straightforward but offers a practical time saving solution and can help improve cow performance,” they added.