Silo Crab – The feed waste solution

  • JF Hudson Ltd has designed and built the Silo Crab – the dairy industry’s first device for collecting leftover material from the feed fence giving significant savings on expenditure, time, and manpower
  • Its innovative design is recognised being Commended at the British Dairying 2021 Cream Awards

Big losses can occur in the dairy shed – especially at feed time. Tackling feed waste therefore offers a huge opportunity to cut costs. JF Hudson Ltd has come up with a unique means to do just that and help farmers to be more profitable.

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.

Its conception came from a request from award-winning 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 at Washfold Farm near Leyburn, North Yorkshire. The farm has 965 metres of feed fence, over 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.

Philip knew eliminating feed wastage played a key part in driving cost and operational efficiencies. He approached JF Hudson Ltd to come-up with a solution. Using their bespoke CAD n Cut service, JF Hudson Ltd 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.

Philip Metcalfe, Partner of Metcalfe Farms, says the Silo Crab has been a great investment: “It saves time and is good for staff morale. We are also saving diesel because the loader does not need to run for as long and the high capacity of the bucket allows TMR to be weighed more conveniently with no spillage.”

As noted by a Cream Award judge, Paul Tompkins of South Acre Farm: “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 is simple, straightforward but offers a practical time saving solution and can help improve cow performance.”

As specialist designers and manufacturers of agricultural machinery, backed by a solid understanding of modern dairy farming operations, JF Hudson Ltd are well-placed to produce precision bespoke builds. James Hudson, owner and Managing Director said:

“Farming is a sector built on tight profit margins and this is where the Silo Crab offers real value. Leftover feed can be gathered and weighed allowing you to calculate the total intake. Adjustments can then be made to the next feed based on what the cows ate 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.

“Investing in the right machinery and practices will preserve your bottom line. It has brought great results for Metcalfe Farms so we are producing the Silo Crab so that other farmers can enjoy the benefit it brings.”