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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

TMR Mixers worth the investment, say beef producers

Despite high feed and grain prices, the use of TMR mixers on feeding and cow-calf operations is increasing due to greater returns. To maximize the benefits of a TMR mixer, there are multiple factors to consider. Jeff Jaderborg of the University of MN identified routine maintenance, loading sequence, mixing time, and minimum inclusion rate as essential ingredients to a high quality TMR.

Routine Maintenance
To reduce the potential for breakdowns and to ensure proper mixing, preventive maintenance should be performed weekly. Here are a few items that should be included in a TMR mixer maintenance schedule:
  • Remove twine and plastic from around augers.
  • Inspect auger knives and kicker plates for wear and fractures.
  • Check electronic scales for accuracy (at least annually).

Loading Sequence
  • Ingredients should be loaded in a specific sequence to provide optimal results (see diagram).
  • Do not load directly over center screw - small-inclusion ingredients and liquids may not be blended.
  • Small batches: make sure ingredients do not stick to side of mixer when loading

Mixing Time
  • Mixing time varies based on ration ingredients and mixing conditions.
  • Best to consult a nutritionist and request a Penn State shaker box test to determine mixing time.

Minimum Inclusion Rate
  • Incorporating ingredients at extremely low inclusion rates may impede mixing process.
  • Avoid ingredient inclusion at amounts less than five times the scale accuracy.
  • Use simple carriers to pre-mix small-inclusion ingredients so they can be properly mixed into the ration.

*Your nutritionist should conduct a Penn State shaker box test annually to analyze the distribution of ingredients and consistency of your mix. This simple test will help ensure that your cattle are consuming a nutrient-rich, well-balanced diet. 

Source: Jeff Jaderborg. "Optimize diets when using TMR mixers." Progressive Cattleman. April 2012: 13.

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