Managing feed inventory with technology
One Wisconsin farm has improved inventory record accuracy by adding a truck scale, scale indicator and feed management software
For a long time, Four Cubs Farm had a problem – it was never sure about its inventory. “We never knew for certain how much feed we had stored in our bunker silos—we guessed the amount delivered by the truckload,” said Ben Peterson, operations manager at Four Cubs Farm. “We would get close to running out of feed at times, so we had to change rations more than we’d like to, just to make sure we had enough feed to last until the next crop came in.”
Four Cubs Farm is based in Grantsburg, Wis. It has 700 cows and requires up to four truckloads of feed each week. During harvest season, silage and grain harvested by the farm is stored in onsite bunker silos before being supplied to the herd.
The management of Four Cubs realized that keeping an accurate accounting of feed on hand was a challenge they had no choice but to overcome. To do so, they decided to use technology.
The weighing process
To keep accurate records of feed inventory, Four Cubs Farm turned to Weigh-Rite Scale Company for a solution. Steve Pitschneider, sales engineer at Weigh-Rite Scale, suggested the Avery Weigh-Tronix BridgeMont Concrete Deck 70' x 10' truck scale with an all-steel deck. The scale was paired with an Avery Weigh-Tronix E1310 scale indicator and the Truck Supervisor truck scale interface from KS Dairy Consulting.
The E1310 truck scale indicator is programmable, and drivers can enter their company name, truck number and type of feed. This data is stored, along with the gross weight of each truck, in the indicator’s memory.
“After the truck is unloaded, it returns to the scale to be weighed again to obtain tare weight,” Pitschneider continued. “The Truck Supervisor interface then sends the net weight, as well as all collected feed and truck data, to the Four Cubs Farm computer system via wireless transmission.” This scale is also legal-for-trade which is essential for any operation involved in buying and selling of commodities.
For the farm’s own vehicles, the weighing process is further simplified with a one-pass weighing system designed by Weigh-Rite Scale. This allows users to preconfigure the scale indicator to store the weight of each empty truck and other crop data—such as field number and moisture content. This data is applied to provide instant net weight during subsequent deliveries.
Once each load is logged in the Feed Supervisor’s database, the software program determines the amount of each ingredient which should be used to make a batch of feed optimized for nutritional needs. These amounts are displayed by ingredient type on an Avery Weigh-Tronix 2040 scale indicator to ensure correct composition of rations. In the mixing process, feed is taken from bulk stockpiles via a front-end loader to the mixer, which is positioned above weight sensors. The indicator then displays the weight of each type of feed added to the mixer. The software also stores information on all feed mixing transactions until the end of the day, at which time the data is downloaded to a master computer database. The amount of feed used is then deducted from their inventory. This data exchange allows Four Cubs management to easily monitor how much mixed feed is in inventory, ensuring that the required amount of feed is available at all times and eliminating frequent ration adjustments.
After several years in use, the truck scale—paired with the indicator and software interface—has significantly improved the accuracy of inventory records for Four Cubs Farms. Their feeding routine now remains consistent.