It’s amazing how a simple, cost effective, but well-built machine like the patented Easy Rake silage facer and a Hanson Silo bunker system can do so much, in so little of time, and still save you stacks of money in production costs to raise your profits.
Chad Kahnke of CCK Angus ranch in Florence, SD is a believer in both these Hanson Silo products and also with the Secure Covers™ Hanson provides to make his 450 head registered and purebred cow/calf operation run like a well-oiled machine. CCK Angus sells registered Angus bulls and semen across the Midwest. When his Angus steers are market-ready they get shipped to Ft. Pierre Livestock in Ft. Pierre, SD.
His is a family operation that he began in 1989, with his wife, Hollie. They have a son, Charlie and two daughters, Emily and Evie, who are all highly involved in the operation. In addition to the 900 head of cattle they have 1,000 acres of tillable ground where they raise corn and soybeans; the rest is pastureland.
After Kahnke crunched the numbers, he saw that it would streamline his operation and save him money in the long run. A Hanson Silo bunker system, Easy Rake and Secure Covers™, he says are also real time savers. And as they say, “Time is Money!”
“We were using round bales of straw for the sidewalls and we put plastic on the inside of the bales and put silage inside that before we got the bunkers. Each year we would feed up the bales on the sidewalls as we fed the silage, so each year we would have to rebuild the entire bunker. We don’t use bales or plastic anymore, we just put it inside the cement and cover with plastic on the top and then the green Secure Covers on the top of it. This was the first time we ever used this covering system.
“This year we covered 160 ft. with Secure Covers and 80 ft. with plastic covered with tires. It’s so much easier to use the Secure Covers rather than handle all those tires. Covering the pile is way faster and manual labor is way less. It’s crazy how good it works, said Kahnke. “I was worried when I saw it kind of moving with the wind; hoping the corn silage wouldn’t be moldy. But when we opened that bunker up it was just perfect right to the top.”
He first saw Hanson pre-cast concrete bunkers at a neighbors ranch and immediately thought they were the real deal. He said he placed his order with Hanson Silo in July and by September Hanson had it all set up. Hanson trucked out three bunker panels to a semi. The bunker system is set up in an “H” formation.
The layout is set up with a divider wall in-between. It’s 16 ft. tall x 50 ft. wide x 240 ft. long using “L” and “T-shaped” bunker walls. He did it that way so it could be emptied each year. They start on one side one year and then the other side the following year so that the silage won’t sit there for more than one year. The divider makes the bunker more versatile. If one side is empty he can also use it for oats, haylage or whatever, and use the other side for corn silage.
“We went higher and longer, so in about the same area as we did before, we would chop around 100 acres of corn, and last year when it was completely empty and we had 25-26-ton corn it took 180 acres of corn to make that bunker completely full. It’s taller than we were doing because we only went three bales high. It takes up less space than we did before when we went three bales wide. It also gives us more room in the feeding area.” explained Kahnke.
Mike Hanson, director of business development at Hanson Silo, said the bunker system has more than one advantage.
“Using bales for a bunker results in unpacked silage and is a place for rodents to thrive. The Hanson system resulted in a huge improvement in the amount of spoiled feed,” said Kahnke.
“In 2015 Kahnke bought a precast concrete bunker system from us and has never looked back,” said Hanson. His nutritionist from Agri-King told Kahnke he has some of the best silage around.
“It’s incredible; we had really good silage before. Our nutritionist was just out again today and told us it’s absolutely perfect silage,” added Kahnke.
“There’s going to be less waste; we used to have to buy the straw to put the walls up. It will be way less baling, fuel and trucking; it’s going to be a huge difference. And just the manual labor – it took us about two weeks to bale it, haul it home and put the walls up, now we just fill it up. You have a certain amount of spoilage on the bales too. The first row of bales would get wet from rain and melting snow resulting in a certain amount of spoilage. Just the savings in lost feed plus not having to buy straw bales to rebuild the bunker each year will more than justify the cost of our Hanson bunker,” expressed Kahnke.
“I really like the Easy Rake. It’s way better than I thought it would be,” said Kahnke. “It works slick. It shaves the face of the silage off perfectly, which leads to way faster loading. I couldn’t believe how much better it works compared to just using the bucket. It does way more work than you’d think it would. I think it’s easier on your loader and tractor too because you’re not trying to dig out the packed silage with your bucket. Along the walls in the wintertime it would freeze about six inches and you couldn’t get it off with the bucket; Easy Rake takes it right off. It also helps keep the face of the silage wall in perfect shape limiting spoilage and makes the feed more consistent by mixing the silage from the top of the bunker clear to the floor each day. The silage is much more consistent than what we used to feed when we just used the bucket,” explained Kahnke.
“Mike Hanson is a super-good guy, I never had any doubt on what was going on, Mike was on top of everything. He never left me wondering,” said Kahnke about the top-notch service from Hanson Silo.
Farmers take precautions to get their hay crop cut and stored just right. Preserving particle length in silage is the key and a proven factor in raising bottom line profits. Use of an Easy Rake results in better particle length, less shrinkage, reduces spoilage, seals out oxygen, breaks up large chunks, gives better quality feed and saves feed. A rotary facer grinds it up into a less productive smaller particle length that is less digestible for cattle.
Forages are the most important ingredients in cattle rations essential for proper rumen fermentation and nutrient digestion to occur.
“The most common forage problem we see is forages that are chopped too finely at harvest. Chopping forages finely aids packing in the silo and the resulting fermentation may be excellent. However, it may not be good for the cow,” noted Jonathan Townsend, D.V.M. from the School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University.
For a dairy farmer, if you do the math on a herd of 500, a couple of pounds increase per cow per day can add up to about $30,000 more income per year.
Hanson Silo Easy Rake sales have skyrocketed to locations all over the world. Sales leads for the patented Easy Rake are generated from their website at www.hansonsilo.com, advertising and word of mouth to as far away as Uruguay, Russia, China Mexico and Canada and they have a large network of U.S. dealers that have been set up over the past years, noted Hanson.
“It’s an easy sale because the Easy Rake is efficient, saves farmers money and requires no service after the sale,” said Mike Hanson. “The neat part about it, is you hook up and go. Not only does it improve the feed quality and time spent feeding each day, but the safety aspect of being farther away from a pile that can avalanche down is huge.”
Safety is also a big factor why the Easy Rake has been a big seller. It’s not hard to come by stories where silage being brought down has caved in damaging equipment and even causing loss of life or limb. Mechanical spinning rotary silage facers can be frustrating – bearings go out, chains and tighteners need to be replaced, motors and sprockets give out and invariably someone forgets to unhook the hydraulic hoses. They are slow, degrade feed, are harder on loaders and can be unsafe.
The length of the Easy Rake keeps the loader further away from the operator and there are no moving parts to break. Patented and designed by dairymen covering eight years of development, it also allows the operator to face all the way to the ground on any bunker, pile or bag, not half way, and from heights up to 59 feet. It is also capable of cutting through plastic, reducing the need to work near the silage cliff and many operators pull tires off the top of bunker with the Easy Rake.
“We think part of it has to do with the increased commodity prices, so any spoilage is very costly. When producers upgrade their feeding center from rollover ground piles to one of our bunker systems, there is an almost immediate return in investment not only with the decrease in spoilage but also the increased amount of feed they can put up in their bunkers. In some cases, producers have seen a 30 percent drop in spoilage.”
“With the freestanding bunker walls. You can actually decrease the footprint of the feed area, while increasing the amount of feed that can be stored, this is the most economical expansion rather than taking valuable acres out of crop production with large flat pads,” said Hanson.
Hanson Silo bunkers can be round, oval, rectangular or a hybrid thereof. You have the choice of 5′, 6′, 8′, 10′ 12′ or 16′ high panels, either L shaped or T shaped. Also Hanson bunkers can be built on top of their grain reclaim tunnels. Pairing these two powerful technologies saves time, money and headaches when unloading your grain bunkers. All Hanson reclaim tunnels can be customized to feature grates as often as needed to make unloading your grain easier and less labor intensive.
Hanson precast concrete panels are one of the most cost effective, large volume storage systems available. Hanson Silo has provided them for applications such as EPA and DOT approved salt and sand storage; animal carcass composting; recycling scrap metal and community recycling centers; to prevent toxic runoff from waste dumps; aggregate storage; coal containment systems; landscaping/nursery; animal food; granular fertilizer; manure storage and scrap metal storage.
Because pre-cast concrete products such as bunkers and bunker silos are produced in a controlled environment, they exhibit high quality and uniformity. Factors affecting quality typically found on a job site such as temperature, improper curing, poor craftsmanship and material quality are nearly eliminated in our plant environment.
Hanson’s clientele varies from the mid-sized farmers, feed mills, to the largest food and grain companies in the world to ethanol plants and industrial clients. While the majority of our business is in the upper Midwest and southern Canada, it is continuing to expand throughout the 48 states.
Hanson has also provided the panels for specialty use as noise barriers and privacy fences with decorative facia such as exposed aggregate or cultured stone; retaining walls; building foundations; skateboard parks and as a safety divider wall at pistol and rifle ranges and as a retaining wall filled with ballistic sand.
Secure Covers are made from the highest quality, finely knitted, 7-year guaranteed UV stable polyethylene mesh. Its uniquely designed interlocking weave prevents unraveling while creating a barrier tough enough to prevent plastic damage. It’s so tough a cow can walk on it. When you put gravel bags on them it tightens up the covers even more. You can cover your feed in half the time as unsightly, vermin infested tires.
The Secure Cover is placed over the normal polythene silage sheet and weighted only at the edges and joins. Once fitted, Secure Covers’ unique construction disperses wind gusts making sure that the silage sheet remains in place on the silage pit. Secure Covers effectively reduce surface waste by keeping the silage sheet in close contact with silage surface. The finely knitted mesh helps prevent bird damage to the silage sheet and when pulled down stops birds feeding on the feed face. Sizes are available to cover any size bunker, pile or pit. Secure Covers, when applied over your bunker and pile plastic, reduce wind velocity over the surface of your plastic. The decrease in airflow allows Secure Coversâ„¢ to utilize tension to secure your plastic. Using tension instead of weight improves the silage-to-plastic contact that is one of the largest contributors to spoilage reduction on the surface of your silage. Secure Covers™ are reusable and easy to store.
“With this (Hanson Silo) bunker system it only takes me 10 to 15 minutes to load, where it took two hours in the old days,” say Jim Anderson of Springfield, MN. “Everything is right together so it takes no time at all. It used to be 80 percent labor. It was way too labor intensive – too much work. We were piling it on the ground and we’d get 20 percent wasted feed without proper covering. With feed prices as crazy as they are now and a pretty good size herd, that adds up to a lot of money. My bunkers pay for themselves every other year by saving against spoiled feed and dry matter loss.”