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Good time to consider converting your feed crops into pellets… on your own

23/02/2017

It is not as complicated as you might initially think

straw_picFarmers have been feeding baled feed crops (e.g. hay) to their livestock for a long time, with little or no issues.  So what benefits are there to convert these feed crops into pellets? And what are the steps involved in producing pellets on their own?

Producing feed pellets on your own using your homegrown feed crops is simpler than the processes involved in commercial production, which requires heavy capital investment and labor.  The steps for homegrown pellet production are as indicated:

 

 

  1. Identify a suitable place for pellet production – Preferably a sheltered area, away from rain.  If wired power is available, it will come in handy for electric motor machines.  If not, diesel engine powered machines are good alternatives.  A compact hammer mill and a compact pellet mill are required, which shouldn’t cost more than $2000.00*
  2. Besides the feed crop, identify additional ingredients to be included in your feed e.g. vitamins, bran, maize and other grains
  3. Ensure that your feed crop maintain a moisture content of 20% or less
  4. Pulverize this mixture using a hammer mill
  5. Before loading the mixture into the pellet mill, consider also mixing them with liquid ingredients such as oil, molasses or fats
  6. Once you are satisfied with the mixture content, load them into the pellet mill
  7. Collect the pellets in a bucket. Let it cool for a while.  Then store them in sealed bags (keep away moisture)

There are many articles written on the benefits of feed pellets.  I have summarized the main benefits below:

  1. Easy storage – A measure of hay pellets takes up less storage than an equal measure of baled hay.  This allows you to produce more feed and store them without the need for additional storage
  2. Feed pellets can be stored in sealed bags, which keep moisture and rodents at bay
  3. Feed pellets allow the addition of nutrients necessary for the improvement of your livestock’s.  You can add vitamins, bran, maize or other nutritious ingredients into the pellet machine
  4. Easier to chew – Although eating long-stem feed crops isn’t a problem for normal livestock, there are some with poor dentition, and pellets come in very handy
  5. Pellets have more surface area put together, exposing these pellets to more enzymes in your livestock’s digestive tract, improving digestion and ultimately the overall health of your animals
  6. Clean consumption – pellets can be consumed in a bucket without the risk of contamination with manure or urine on the ground.  Furthermore, nothing gets blown away or left wasted.  Everything is consumed from the bucket (or any container)
  7. Monitoring the feed – Pellets inside a bucket easily allow you to weigh the content, hence, you can manage how much your livestock eats a day
  8. Pellets are free from dust, weed, bugs, twigs and even tiny metallic objects, all of which can potentially cause harm to your livestock

(Note: * – this excludes shipping and port custom charges)