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Thread: Robotic feed pusher

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    NW Iowa
    Posts
    36

    Default Robotic feed pusher

    I searched the archive and this hasn't been discussed since 2015.
    Does anyone here have any first hand experience with one? I hear from all the salespeople that they are great and trouble free. The "word on the street" is that they are constantly getting lost or stuck on a slippery surface. I am building a new dry cow/calving barn and want to be sure that the feed is kept within reach. This will be a cold barn as the stocking density will not be as high as a lactating barn. We have temperature extremes here in northern Iowa. -30F plus wind in the winter and +100F in the summer time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    De Pere, WI
    Posts
    3,569

    Default

    I have the valmetal robot feed pusher. I'm VERY happy with it. It works great and doesn't get lost. The only problem with it is that it doesn't handle running in reverse down the same track as it pushed up feed because the feed gets lodged in the machine causing it to drift into the feed pile and fault out. HOWEVER, if it is running forward it never has issue. We were running it in reverse due to our construction to avoid problems with it being in the way.

    The machine is designed to run forwards and does this very well and reverse in short distance... just not 200 feet directly next to feed where cows are throwing it in the way. If I wad to use it long term time that I'd attach a piece along that side to prevent it.

    Sent from my SM-G930R4 using Tapatalk
    DiederichFarm
    "You are only as good as your next success, not your last" Sir Jock Stirrup

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Central MN.
    Posts
    6

    Default

    We have demoed a lely 4-5 years ago, and it got lost a fair amount of time, and didnt see a milk bump from it so left it go,
    We are currently demoing a Joz for the last 3 months, getting about a 2-3# bump in milk,Our barn has an open ridge so when it
    rain the floor gets a little slippery from fine feed particles, spins out and gets off path and faults out,,, frusrating , it works great when things
    are dry and never got out of barn running around on the lawn like the Lely,Considering the Valmetal auger one , but wondering what could go wrong with that one!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    SW ONT
    Posts
    28

    Default

    No first hand experience, but heard a good story about one that went out the end of the barn and ran into the AI tech's truck. It was programmed to try a second time for an obstacle so it backed up and ran into the truck again!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Lynden Washington
    Posts
    260

    Default

    What I dont get is why can a $50 drone from Walmart be programmed to Fly from me to point A, B, C, and D and return. But a feed "robot" cant drive between barns or raise and lower it self. My buddy with a much larger op and I were talking and just want a skid steer auto programmed to push feed all day on big farms. Even here mine has 6 alleys in 3 barns. Why cant they make one for that? Or a UTV type rig? In my mind the elec over hydro skid steer be best fit. Just the quiet and always shows up part....mainly always shows up.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    north-central virginia
    Posts
    680

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Troydairy View Post
    What I dont get is why can a $50 drone from Walmart be programmed to Fly from me to point A, B, C, and D and return. But a feed "robot" cant drive between barns or raise and lower it self. My buddy with a much larger op and I were talking and just want a skid steer auto programmed to push feed all day on big farms. Even here mine has 6 alleys in 3 barns. Why cant they make one for that? Or a UTV type rig? In my mind the elec over hydro skid steer be best fit. Just the quiet and always shows up part....mainly always shows up.
    I've thought for some time, that zero-turn mowers and skid-steers should be among the easiest stuff to self drive.

    Imagine a automatic feed pusher built to piggy-back on some very popular bobcat model. Within several hours of receiving the box, you've mounted the servos under the seat, the position sensors on the loader, and the main control unit on the roof. You can trade in skid-loaders, and a couple hours later the new machine is running automatically with no additional cost. It's still perfectly usable as a human operated loader, and gets used occasionally for loading refusals, backup feed center usage, etc.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Barron, Wisconsin
    Posts
    960

    Default

    I can see something like this happening, but most equipment companies are not going to like it. They want you to buy a Gehl, or Case, or Bobcat, not just a piece of tech that drives them all. However, I can see an independent company developing something like this... what do they have to lose?

    The second issue I see is that skid steers are big and can really wreck stuff. The Lely Juno isn't going to hurt much, but a Bobcat S205 definitely can. Inappropriately driven skid steers can and have damaged/killed cattle too, especially when they are locked in headlocks and cannot escape. The margin for error is <1' when pushing up feed, and designing safety systems that prevent accidents while allowing the machine to function is going to be challenging.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    north-central virginia
    Posts
    680

    Default

    @cows250, yes I was thinking of an independent company. Basically, they would focus on the self-driving tech, and would just be piggybacking on another company's popular machine. This way, they're assured a solid mechanical platform, no need to supply mechanical parts, and an existing reputation.

    Thinking further, the most likely business model would be that of a dealer that buys bobcats, outfits them with the self-driving package, sets up the whole thing at your farm, and trains you on use. Machine trade-in might be done through them, or possibly through your local bobcat dealer if you're too far from headquarters. Either way, the skid-steer is not harmed by the package, and can be sold used as a conventional machine. Skid-steer warranty would all be through bobcat, since they've had the chance to inspect the self-driving package, and assure that it isn't harming their machines.

    Another application would be scraping. You probably wouldn't want to trust it around cows, but a skid-steer can cover a lot of ground in the 15 minutes the alleys are clear at the beginning of milking.

    The biggest barrier to all this, is the orientation infrastructure. Current feed pushers are extremely analog and don't really think, since they only go by a few indicators on the feed floor. This machine would have to know exactly where it is in the facilities to within the half inch. It would need a localized "gps" system similar to common row-guidance systems. It might even be able to piggy-back on the same systems used in the nearby fields.

    In the future, this same tech company could be working on certain models of utility tractors to pull mixer wagons, and would be offering completely automated feed mixing and distribution for larger operations.

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