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Efficiency is important to hay grinder

By Jennifer Carrico

Efficiency is a word any business owner is constantly working toward, including hay grinding business owner Rick Jackson.

Jackson started his business in south central Iowa nearly nine years ago. He knew getting into the business he would have to work to make his hay grinders more efficient in order to be successful.

“Efficiency is the name of the game for me. The more hay and forage we can grind in a day, the more customers we can serve and the more successful and profitable our business will be,” he said.

His business—South Central Hay Grinding—started with one hay grinding machine and now consists of four, which are a self-contained truck unit. He has two grinders based out of his farm near Weldon, Iowa, and another two in the Corning, Iowa, area to service customers in Iowa and Missouri, mostly beef cattle producers.

“Some customers may only grind twice per year, while we grind for some once per week,” Jackson said. “No matter what the size of the operation, we want to provide the best result for all of them.”

Because of Jackson’s instinct to excel, when his hay grinders weren’t performing to his standards, he began to investigate how to improve.

“He’s always tinkering with machinery to make it work better. It’s what he’s always done,” said Joy Jackson, Rick’s wife, who assists with billing and paperwork of the company.

“As the cost of hay has increased over the past several years, producers have started to look into ways to lower their cost of feed. A lot of producers are grinding their hay and adding other feed commodities to it, to make it last longer and be more cost effective,” Rick Jackson said.

Because of the increase in demand for hay grinding, he began to notice some problems with efficiency in the grinders and with a lot of research and development and testing he came up with a need for a riser slug bar.

The riser slug bar allows the hammers to run though the blades at a more consistent speed in order to apply more torque to the mill without pulling down the speed in which it is running.

Jackson believes so much in the need for this specialized bar in the tub, that he applied for a patent on the unique design and is currently in the final stages of receiving that patent.

“By allowing the tub to run at a more consistent speed, we can increase production by as much as 10 to 20 ton per hour. The tub speed has been increased from 19 rpm to 24 rpm in order to keep the hay moving across the mill and to increase the production without increasing wear and tear to the machine,” he explained.

This bar also allows him to grind high moisture hay or silage much more easily, while eliminating the hammers slapping back into the rods.

“With this minor change to the huge machine, we are saving time tremendously,” Jackson said. “It’s all about being able to do a better job more quickly.”

Nutritionists and producers have given Jackson’s machines and his new patent pending slug bars rave reviews as his machine is able to grind faster and more consistently than most others.

Travis Blum works with cow-calf producers and feedlot operators in western Iowa and continues to find more customers for Jackson.

“We are treating cornstalk bales with a calcium, hydroxide, water solution to make the product more palatable for cattle. Basically making a cornstalk into more of a silage-type feedstuff,” Blum said. “We like to work with Rick because his grinder is almost twice as fast as a normal grinder and the conveyor belt is always full therefore we aren’t wasting product.”

The solution is applied at the end of the conveyor belt as the ground up cornstalks go into the pile. With a full conveyor belt, the solution is applied at a more consistent and efficient rate.

“Cattle producers are all about getting the best product they can for the best price. Since Rick’s machine can grind faster, it costs the producer less in the long run to get him there to grind. It makes the pile of feed more economical and helps their bottom line,” Blum said.

At the end of the day, Jackson’s goal is to provide the best product he can for his customers in the more efficient way for everyone. He hopes the patent that is currently pending for his slug bar invention will help provide a more efficient way of doing business for hay grinders and cattle producers all across the nation and for many years ahead.

For more information, visit www.riserslugbars.com.

Jennifer Carrico can be reached by phone at 515-833-2120, or by email at jcarrico@hpj.com.

Date: 9/23/2013

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