Tips for making sure your winter feed equipment doesn’t let you down when you really need it
BY KESLY PORTER
Winter can put a terrible strain on feeding equipment. Harvesting season is rapidly wrapping up, and winter is quickly closing in. Snow will soon be flying, and temperatures will plummet which means it’s time to switch out the haying equipment for the feeding equipment. Already dreading the thought of having to spend the brisk and breezy mornings working on your machinery’s first of the season breakdowns? By following the advice of these experts and properly conditioning and storing your equipment you can be completely confident that it will be ready to use and dependable when you need it most.
Double checking the oil levels, and being sure that the oil in any gearbox or chain case gets changed at correct intervals is vital to the performance of the machine.
Five Quick Winter Maintenance Tips
- Clean out equipment at least once daily – be especially aware of soggy feed that can freeze and break parts.
- Order any parts that need repaired/replaced well before the season begins if possible to prevent having to wait longer than desired for the parts to come.
- Grease all moving parts thoroughly and completely.
- Startup slow in the mornings and give your equipment time to warm up before making the first load.
- Repair and replace broken and worn out parts as soon as possible to lower the risk of causing more issues.
For automatic oilers, be sure to check the reservoir and also ensure that the oil dripper or brush is properly positioned or else oil may not be distributed correctly. For oil baths, the oil level is also important, an oil level that is too high may indicate the oil has been contaminated with water
If you feed a TMR (Total Mixed Ration), Kelly Smith, the product specialist for Kuhn North America outlines some crucial maintenance, inspection and storage procedures that will ensure your mixer is properly cared for. Moving parts, including PTO shafts, drivelines, bearings, door guides and linkages should all be properly and thoroughly greased. Chains should be thoroughly cleaned – grease and dirt combinations can be abrasive. Sprockets must be checked for excessive wear that could indicate an issue with sprocket alignment or a need to adjust the chain tightness. Check battery, fuel filters, tires and engine condition in general to ensure peak performance.
Start your mixer up slow on a cold morning and let it warm up before you load Round 1. The below freezing temperatures combined with moisture from snow and rain can make it harder for the equipment to get up and running or possibly even break parts. To prevent this, clean the mixer and discharge areas thoroughly at the end of every day, or more frequently if needed. Start the mixer up slow and give it some time to warm up before you make your first load. Storing the equipment indoors if possible, and using an efficient winter blend of fuel will also produce the optimum results. Machines such as the EZ Ration Hay Processor from RCMR Incorporated can also be easily maintained prior to use in order to ensure a trouble free feeding season for you this winter. RC Patterson, RCMR President says that his first recommendation would be to thoroughly clean out the processor to prevent feed remnants from freezing inside and possibly breaking parts. Be sure to also clean the grain bin from any remaining feed, also leave open the auger clean out so any remaining moisture can drain and prevent freezing. Greasing and servicing the machine, as well as the truck if it is a mounted unit, and paying careful attention to gear box seals, wheel seals, u-joints, yokes, chains and sprockets is key. Any of these parts that may need repaired or replaced should be noted and fixed as soon as possible.
RC also recommends that any noted repairs be finished during the off season, well before feeding season begins, manufacturers are overloaded during season and getting your parts may take longer if you wait until the time has arrived to begin feeding.
If the processor is going to be stored outside where it will be exposed to the elements, then dribbling a little used oil over the exposed floor-chain links can provide some protection from the moisture and potential erosion.
Following these maintenance tips and recommendations will prepare you and your equipment for the feeding season ahead and dramatically reduce the headaches, or should I say brainfreezes, that result from working on equipment during the cold and windy season. Now that you’ve taken the advice straight from these experts, you can prepare and head into the upcoming season with confidence knowing your equipment is ready to go to work.