Current Progressive Dairy digital edition
Advertisement

New Technology: Load twice as much feed in half the time

PD Editor Karen Lee Published on 18 May 2010

This article was #4 in PDmag's Top 5 most-well read New Technology articles in 2010.

Summary: Ron Fritsch designed the Push Away Grapple to penetrate feed in silage bags and pull away with a full load. An adjustable hydraulic valve allows the grapple to “push away” from the feed with 12 tons of force. When the grapple cylinders reach the end of their stroke, another set of cylinders automatically push against the pile, separating the feed in the bucket from the pile.

advertisement

advertisement

A bucket equipped with this grapple can load in half the time, twice as much feed as a bucket alone, Fritsch says. Tests show it can grab a full bucket of haylage in less than 10 seconds from a silage bag.

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

Q: What type of interest have you received? Can you quantify it in anyway?
FRITSCH : It’s been really good. Probably half the sales have been with buckets, which I didn’t anticipate. Most customers felt they could always use another bucket around. Sales aren’t as good as I hoped due to the economy.

Q: Have you made any modifications to the original product?
FRITSCH : We turned the cylinders around so the hoses aren’t twisting.

Q: Are you working on any additional features, enhancements or new options?
FRITSCH : We made a sleeve to go over the teeth so the grapple can be used to pick up plastic remnants without piercing it. The sleeve can also be pushed up further on the teeth that helps with brush pick up, preventing the brush from being entangled in the grapple. We have also developed a non-push away model for larger loaders that don’t need it.

Q: Have any of your customers found a use or benefit you hadn’t thought of?

FRITSCH : Cleaning out a bedding pack. It really works well for that, you just have to wash it up well when you are done.

advertisement

Q: Were there any hurdles that needed to be overcome?
FRITSCH : No, not really.

Q: What is the No. 1 reason customers cite for buying this product?
FRITSCH : Most people purchase it to get feed out of bags. PD


PLUS, check out Progressive Dairyman 's Top 25 most well-read articles .

ARTICLE

New tech 1

Recently released on the market, a new patent-pending feedout technology performs like no other grapple out there, engineers of a new attachment say.

advertisement

“Typically a lot of people have trouble getting feed out of bags,” explains Ron Fritsch of Fritsch Equipment Corp. in DePere, Wisconsin. “Very few grapples are strong enough to penetrate the feed. If it can penetrate, the loader can’t get away from the feed.”

That’s why he designed the Push Away Grapple with an adjustable hydraulic valve to allow the grapple to “push away” from the feed with 12 tons of force. When the grapple cylinders reach the end of their stroke, another set of cylinders automatically push against the pile, separating the feed in the bucket from the pile.

A bucket equipped with this grapple can load in half the time, twice as much feed as a bucket alone, Fritsch says. Tests show it can grab a full bucket of haylage in less than 10 seconds from a silage bag.

Fritsch also tested the grapple on a bunker silo and found it to work well digging into the lower portion of feed. However, he says it is best suited for farms storing feed in bags or small piles. It is not meant for large piles or bunker silos.

Dairyman Ryan Sprangers farms near Freedom, Wisconsin, with his father, Lee, and brother Dan. They milk 250 cows and care for the herd and fields all by themselves. Their forages are stored in bags, which they unload with a skidloader. When Fritsch told them he had something that would fit their system, they were eager to try it.

“We were looking for something to make feeding easier,” Sprangers explains, noting their bags are placed on gravel in a nearby hay field. “We were always kicking around the idea of a concrete pad or small payloader. But instead of paying $50,000 for concrete or $20,000 to $30,000 for a payloader, if you can buy this (grapple) for only $2,000 to $3,000, it can really keep expenses down.”

Sidebar

He found more than monetary benefits, too.

“It cut time off the feeding, and there was more feed in the bucket,” Sprangers says. He estimates it cut at least a half hour off his feeding time, which without the grapple can take 2 ½ to 3 hours. “Every half hour we can save is huge,” he says, “especially this time of year – it means we can get out to the field earlier.”

Because there was more feed in the bucket it also reduced an extra trip from the mixer to the bags for haylage and corn silage per batch. With three batches of feed mixed for the cows, that’s six less trips at each feeding.

“It made it easier on the bucket,” Sprangers adds. “The bucket doesn’t have to push into the feed as hard. The grapple did the work for the bucket.”

Craig Schroeder of Greenville, Wisconsin, also tested the grapple and reports he could pack 700 pounds of corn silage in his 7-foot bucket without the grapple, but with it he gets 1,700 to 1,800 pounds in there in half the time.

The grapple can dig into any type of feed, from hay and corn silage to corn gluten and cottonseed.

“People that have grapples already are impressed with how rugged it is built,” Fritsch says.

The hardened teeth are strong enough to penetrate through any feed, especially haylage and wheatlage, which can be packed very tight.

Its fast action prevents the skidloader tires from spinning in mud or plastic in front of the bags, keeping the feed and the area clean.

“As long as we’re able to get up to the feed, there’s no problem getting it. Before with the bucket we were constantly pushing into the feed,” Sprangers says. “Then, once you start spinning, you start smearing all the mud.”

The concept came to Fritsch while driving back from a farm show in New York. By the time he made it home to Wisconsin, he had a plan in place. He considered building something similar to a facer because he’s been asked if the facer he sells can be used for removing feed from bags, but the grapple is less weight and less expensive.

After being sidetracked with another product and 18 months of fine-tuning, Fritsch released the grapple to the public at the end of March.

It sells as a regular grapple or a grapple with the push-away feature and with or without the bucket. The grapple can be sized to fit any bucket. The cost is $2,200 to $3,100 without the bucket.

Fritsch Equipment is working with various dealerships around the world to make it available. PD

Go to www.fritschequipment.com/pushaway.html to see a video of the grapple in action. Contact Fritsch at or (920) 532-6292 for more information.

PHOTO : A bucket equipped with this grapple can load in half the time, twice as much feed as a bucket alone, the product’s engineer says. Tests show it can grab a full bucket of haylage in less than 10 seconds from a silage bag. Photo courtesy of Ron Fritsch.

Karen Lee
  • Karen Lee

  • Midwest Editor
  • Email Karen Lee

LATEST BLOG

LATEST NEWS