FARMERS struggling to mill over-dry grain for livestock feed this winter now have access to a treatment which is more typically used by the feed processing industry.
The technique of ‘tempering’ grain is said to be particularly relevant this year, after much of this summer’s harvest recorded low moisture contents.
Feed preservation specialists Kelvin Cave Ltd says it is increasingly hearing reports from farmers that dry grain is shattering and turning to dust in the mill. This has numerous disadvantages, ranging from difficult working conditions for operators to poor rumen health in the livestock fed over-processed grain.
As a result, the company has reported a surge in interest in methods of adding moisture to grain before rolling, which also allow the processed product to be preserved and stored over winter.
Increasing numbers are turning to ‘temp-ering’, a process which is widely used in hotter climates, most notably Australia and New Zealand. The process involves applying Proflake NC (a product comprising a mixture of surfactants and preservatives) to the grain, and soaking with a known volume of water. This causes the grain to swell, increases its feed value and makes it easy and dust-free to roll.
Michael Carpenter, Kelvin Cave’s technical director, said: “Milling dry cereals and pulses can be a dusty business as any farmer who rolls grain of 14 per cent moisture or less will know.
“It not only results in wastage, but the effects of the dust are detrimental to the operator of the mill. The over-processed grain also has knock-on effects in livestock, whose rumen health and performance will deteriorate, potentially leading to acidosis.”
By treating the grain with Proflake NC, it can be rolled and stored for up to three months.
“The fact that the product contains non-corrosive organic acids also increases the energy content of the feed,” he adds.
Yorkshire farmer Phil Metcalfe uses Proflake NC on the grain he produces at Foxberry Farm.
Selling much to local livestock producers for use as feed, he said: “The big problem we had was dust, especially when rolling dry wheat, which creates an unpleasant operating environment for us.
“But treating the grain with Proflake NC means we not only significantly reduce dust, but the physical quality of the product looks better and it’s becoming increasingly popular with our customers.”
Others are using the product for treating both grain and pulses for feeding to their own stock. They find it creates a highly palatable feed which increases dry matter intakes and shows clear signs of improving animal health.
Mr Carpenter says the handling benefits are one reason why the feed processing industry has tempered grain for many years.
He said: “The feed trade uses a similar tempering process to reduce the dust and increase the shelf-life of feeds. But – through the catalyst of this summer’s dry conditions – we have made the same benefits available direct to farmers who are increasingly reporting positive results, both in the handling of the grain and the performance of their stock.”
n For advice about options for feed and forage preservation, please contact Kelvin Cave Ltd on 01458 252281 or Michael Carpenter on 07817 977701.
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