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Best on-farm fix: The $200 solution for a busted barn cleaner

Progressive Dairyman Writer Carrie Veselka Published on 24 February 2017
cows in barn

Taylor Clifford and Eric Bogardus decided it was time to get creative when their already decrepit barn cleaner finally gave up the ghost, and shelling out money for a new one just wasn’t in the budget.

Clifford and Bogardus purchased their dairy farm in upstate New York in March of 2016, bringing in a herd of 90 Holstein and Ayrshire cows. Soon after buying the farm and fixing the necessities, they decided to work with the existing equipment until the barn cleaner forced their hand.

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“The barn cleaner unit was about at the end of its useful life, and we were fighting with it and welding on it on a daily basis,” says Clifford, who also works off the farm as an agriculture and technology teacher in the local school district. “Estimates to replace it were anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 dollars, and with it being a brand new farm, we really couldn’t justify that kind of money on a barn cleaner unit.”

Clifford says they started looking around for options and decided to make their own as an attachment for their skid steer loader. They posted on social media asking for ideas but came up empty. “A bunch of people had heard of one, but nobody had pictures of it,” Clifford says. “We didn’t really have any pictures to go off of, so we really just threw together a sketch and went with it.”

Clifford says it took them about two days after the old barn cleaner died to get the materials together and make the new unit. “We made it quicker than we probably thought we would because the barn cleaner finally let go and was no longer fixable,” Clifford says. “It was just a few hours of welding, and then we got it all together and tried using it for the first time and realized we had to make some modifications, and we’ve been using it ever since.”

skid steer

According to Clifford, they ordered a new skid steer plate off of Amazon and made the rest from materials they had around the farm. They made the arm out of metal tubing they had lying around and made the paddles that fit down into the gutter out of a floater tire from one of their old spreader tires. They made it as an attachable unit, since they use the skid steer for feeding, moving bales and loading the mixer.

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“The plate itself stays right in the barn at the end of the barn in the gutter, and then we just drive the skid steer on without an attachment, and it’s the same universal quick-attach, so we can just drive up to it and put it on the same way we’d do a bale feeder or a bucket or anything,” Clifford says.

Clifford says they’re pleased with their creation and have only had to make a few minor adjustments after they began using it. “We’ve had to add a couple of bolts that screwed in on the arms to make it so it would hold it and not move because the arms slide in on the tubes that are on the plate, so we had to reinforce that,” Clifford says. “Our next thought was if we ever had the time, we’d put hydraulic cylinders onto it because our skid steer has all of the hydraulic couplers to be able to actually have it so it would move the arms in and out using the controls on the skid steer.” But for now, they will stick with what they have.  end mark

Carrie Veselka
  • Carrie Veselka

  • Staff Writer
  • Progressive Dairyman
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PHOTO 1: Taylor Clifford says the most important thing to remember when creating your own equipment is to measure carefully to make sure your equipment fits all of your needs.

PHOTO 2: According to Taylor Clifford, the scraper attachment only needed a few minor adjustments and some reinforcement before it was fully functional. Photos provided by Taylor Clifford.

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