Current Progressive Dairy digital edition

Barns & Equipment

Whether using a tiestall, freestall, dry lot or pasture, here are some tips for cow comfort and maintaining farm facilities and equipment.


This article was #5 in PDmag's Top 5 most-well read New Technology articles in 2010.

Summary: This new bale chopper mounts right onto a skid loader for a one-step method to bedding with straw. The idea came to Roy Marschall, owner of Skid-Chopper, LLC, and his son-in-law, Harlan Poppler, who runs a dairy farm in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, area.

The square drum attachment allows the operator to drive into the bale. Once lifted, hydraulic power moves the drum back while gravity pulls the bale over three rows of rotating three-sided blades to chop the straw. The speed of the drum can be altered to change the length of the cut. Two fans are used to blow the straw from the chopper directly into a freestall, bedded pack or collection pile. Fan speed can also be adjusted to control the distance the chopped straw travels.

“It can blow up to 30 feet if you want it to,” Marschall says.

Because this article was so popular, we asked Marschall some follow-up questions:

Read more ...


Fuel and fuel efficiency are important factors in improving your margin. Storage of that fuel can have a devastating impact on performance and longevity of your engine. Make sure your engine is running as efficiently as possible with turbo chargers. I think every piece of equipment should have a turbo charger on it and be fuel-injected.

Diesel fuel isn’t gas at all, it’s oil. It’s a slow-burning fuel that contains more energy than gasoline does – 147,000 BTUs in diesel compared to 125,000 BTUs in gasoline.Diesel engines must provide higher temperatures to ignite diesel fuel, but the slower burn gives diesel engines more torque and longer power strokes than gas engines.

Read more ...


There’s a well-known Bob Dylan song that you’ve all probably heard called “Blowin’ in the Wind.” It’s a famous song that has blown right into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame and was ranked No. 14 in Rolling Stone magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

The song asks a series of questions and answers them by simply singing, “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”

Read more ...

In the dairy industry, it’s a commonly held belief that cow comfort contributes to healthier and higher-producing dairy herds. One additional way to increase cow comfort is to manage and control ectoparasites like mange and lice. Comfortable cows simply produce more milk.

Dr. Brian Miller, professional service veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., says an annual whole-herd parasite control program is the best way to keep irritating and painful mange at bay.

Read more ...


Just like a doctor that works on patients all the time, your mechanic knows your machine, and the machines like it, best. They get a lot of the same problems and usually can give you ways to avoid the major problems with minor improvements or maintenance tips.

Gunner Kyser, a former student of mine and a service foreman at a local dealership, told me about some of the common problems and quick adjustments that will save owners a lot of money.

Read more ...

Historically, dairy barns were constructed like houses, striving to keep barns closed-in to protect cows from winter weather. But building them that way ignored the fact that cows have a different temperature comfort range than people.

“Cows are much more cold- tolerant than we are and much less heat-tolerant than we are,” said Jeffrey Bewley, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture assistant extension professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. “Of course, even in the Southeast, we experience winter days where cold stress is a concern.”

Read more ...