This week farmers across the countries endured possibly the worst thing about winter: bitter freezing cold. Some parts of the Midwest were colder than Antarctica. In Pennsylvania, it was in the negative double digits.
Frigid temps cause frozen everything, the worst of which might be frozen feed lines. And the worst thing about frozen feed lines (aside from the obvious inability to feed livestock) is that there is no one good way to solve the problem.
We have some creative solutions you can try, but first, why does feed freeze to begin with?
Three things cause frozen feed lines:
- A leaky bin – if water gets in, whether through the lid or from loose joints, it’s going to freeze when the temperature drops;
- Moist feed – feed is often delivered warm and then creates condensation as it cools, and cools, and then freezes;
- Bitter. Cold.
Creative problem solving:
- Heat it up.
- Maybe a torpedo heater? Maybe a small controlled fire? Maybe burn all of it to the ground and have a barbeque? Whatever you choose, target the bin boot, enclose the area if you can, and exercise patience by sitting back and enjoying a beverage.
- Beat it up.
- Use a screw driver or any other sharp, pointy thing to stab and jab the frozen bits. Break up as much of the solid feed as you can, and eventually, with enough aggression, the feed will start flowing again.
- Switch it up.
- Alternate between bins for a few minutes (if you have feed in both, and it’s not yet frozen). It’s like leaving the faucet run so your water pipes don’t freeze.
- Tape it up.
- Heat tape is best used on auger tubes and boots, wrap the lines in heat tape and keep it on there to prevent the lines from seizing up. Run the auger regularly while you are at it, to make sure the feed in the bins keeps moving.
- Dry it out.
- Prevent freezing after deliveries by leaving the bin lid open. This is risky, so use your judgement, but the more air that can circulate over the feed, the less condensation will accumulate in the bin. Note: This could be a biosecurity risk.
As always, if you are opening anything up to work on a system make sure the power is off, locked-out and tagged-out properly.
Actually, lighting a fire under your feed bin seems fraught with peril – on second thought – don’t do that.
What are some other ways you handle frozen feed in the dead of winter?
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