How to winterize your feed mixer

We protect ourselves well against the cold, but how can we ensure that the feed mixer, one of the most important machines on a cattle farm or ranch, is ready for winter? If you don't prepare a feed mixer for low temperatures, damage can occur. Of course, you wish to prevent this from happening. Your dealer can help you winterize the feed mixer. Make an appointment with your local dealer or contact our regional manager in your area.

Our service department has listed 12 tips:

1.    Check the feed mixer in good time. Check the state of the mixer (wall of the mixing tub, cutting and auger knives, augers, etc.) in the fall or, in any event, before it freezes. If a part needs to be ordered, you probably have to deal with delivery times. It is best to have a few spare parts in stock so as not to avoid any unpleasant surprises. 

2.    In order to be able to check the mixer wagon thoroughly, it is important that the mixer is clean. This will make it easier to spot any wear or a crack. Keep the underside of the feed mixer clean. Feed and dirt that accumulates and freezes on the underside of the machine can adversely affect the operation of the weighing system.

3.    Check the oil level, it must be between the min-max marks. 

4.    Replace the oil, if necessary. At temperatures down to -4°F (-20 ̊C), we recommend the use of type MIL-L-2105 (C) or ISO3448 VG 150 gear oil. In extremely cold weather conditions of around 0°F (approx. -18 ̊C) or colder, we recommend using semi-synthetic oil Omala HD 220. This prevents damage to seals. 

5.    Check the seals. The cold causes materials to shrink and leaks can occur. This can then cause damage to the gearbox, which in turn results in high costs.

6.    Check that the discharge door’s valve guide is free of feed residues. Frozen feed residues may prevent the discharge doors from closing. 

7.    Have the auger drive (and, if necessary, the reduction gearbox) idle for ten minutes before loading the feed components. This way, the oil in the gearboxes / reduction gearboxes can warm up slowly and so prevent seals from leaking and causing greater damage to the drive train.  

8.    Check the weighing signal. Under cold conditions, the weighing signal on the weighing indicator may no longer be in the 0 position. We therefore recommend that you switch on the weighing system 10 minutes before loading, just like the feed mixer itself. If the weighing indicator is still not at 0 after warming up, the value must be set manually. See the feed mixer manual for instructions on how to set the weighing indicator to 0. 

10.    First run the discharge conveyor belt (and, for self-propelled feed mixers, the loading conveyor belt too) at 10-20% of the speed for a few minutes to prevent it from being damaged by switching it on when it is frozen. 

11.    Large frozen chunks of feed must be reduced in size before they are loaded into the feed mixer. Large, hard lumps can make the cutting work of the auger knives more fatigued, which leads to poorly mixed rations and possible overloading of the drive line during mixing. When feeding in bales, it is a good idea to cut them into smaller pieces or shake them apart before loading them into the feed mixer. 

12.    Make sure that the mixing tub is indeed empty at the end of the feed turn by running the augers at high speed for the last few minutes. This prevents any feed that remains from freezing and on which feed can accumulate during the next feed turn. This can impede proper mixing.

13.    Adapt the driving behavior to the weather conditions. The feed mixer can start to jackknife when it is slippery. You will want to avoid this at all times.

With a few simple actions you can prepare your feed mixer for the winter. Make some of these tips your daily routine. It goes without saying that, if you maintain your feed mixer well on a daily basis, you will avoid problems and therefore save costs. Of course, the dealer can help you winterize the feed mixer or order parts. In that case, make an appointment with your local dealer. Or contact the regional manager in your area.

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