A straw bed tailored for growing ducks – “comfort, convenience, and substantial straw savings"

A straw bed tailored for growing ducks – “comfort, convenience, and substantial straw savings

Tomahawk 7150 Dual Chop Bale Processor

Ian has a keen eye for the welfare of the ducks that he rears so, in addition to the duck houses being to the latest ‘Gressingham’ specification, Ian ensures that the straw bed provided for the ducks provides the best in comfort. On their last visit, inspectors for the Duck Assurance Scheme were very pleased with the bedding conditions. 

Ian says, ‘every duck farm has a mechanical straw bedder as it offers labour and straw savings, however, most of these machines simply spread long straw which would not provide a suitable bed for young ducklings.’ He adds ‘smaller ducks are happier on shorter straw as it is easier for them to walk over, improving mobility. Ideally the bed should be like a carpet when they arrive at one day old. As the ducks grow they stay cleaner on longer straw, because muck falls down through the lattice the straw creates. The bed must be laid to meet the needs of the ducks’

 Like many other farms, Ian had been purchasing pre-chopped ‘Maxi’ bales to start the bed, which were relatively expensive, and then spreading long straw with a mechanical bedder. To reduce costs and improve convenience Ian started looking for an alternative solution.

Ian spoke with local agricultural dealer Brad Farm Machinery Ltd. and found that the Tomahawk ‘Dual Chop’ Straw Bedder, manufactured by Teagle Machinery Ltd. in Cornwall, has the feature of varying chop length from around 2” to simply spreading straw without any chopping at all by simply pressing a button on the machine’s electronic control box in the tractor cab.

Ian had machine on demonstration and found that by setting the chopping system to the shortest length he could quickly prepare the duck beds, with the swivel chute enabling him to place straw in all corners of the shed. Because the Tomahawk is mounted on the tractor, reversing into the shed is straightforward, and with the chute able to deliver straw to either side of the machine it is only necessary to drive through the shed once.

The ease of changing the chop length means that at each rotation Ian can quickly lay a bed of short straw prior to arrival of the ducklings. After 1 week the ducks are bedded with short straw every day to keep the bed comfortable, and after 3 weeks the straw is gradually lengthened.

Having used a conventional mechanical bedder for many years, Ian has been impressed with the results from the Tomahawk ‘Dual Chop’ as he is able to provide “the same high level of comfort for the ducks, at far greater convenience, and with substantial straw savings”.

Ian has reduced his straw usage by 30%, around 875 full size Hesston bales, by moving from a conventional straw blower to a Tomahawk ‘Dual Chop’ and no longer has the hassle of purchasing pre-processed maxi-bales. Although Ian runs a number of straw for muck agreements, he is saving 1/3 of the cost of baling and hauling the straw.

The main saving in straw is achieved in the way the Tomahawk Dual Chop tears apart the bale. Because of the high speed at which the crossbeater rotates, and the use of a large number of hook rippers rather than blades, to pull apart the bale, the straw is well fluffed up rather than chopped to pieces. This system also delivers a very even flow rate which makes it easier for an operator to create an even bed.

And on the machine Ian says ‘it has been good working with Teagle to get the most from the Dual Chop system. Maintenance is easy, with well thought out access around the machine, and build quality is excellent.’

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