Innovative new round-bale feeder saves money while helping the environment
ROTHSCHILD – Very rarely does a new product provide an economical solution for two seemingly unrelated problems. But that’s exactly what the new hay-bale feeder designed by Jerome Brunner is doing.
Brunner has been actively involved in agriculture his entire life, and one of the things he’s observed over the years is how quickly the metal round bale feeders rust away, requiring expensive repairs and wasting valuable feed.
“The metal bottoms rust off because they’re not made from a material that’s appropriate for the environment they’re placed in, which can include mud, urine, and manure that is highly acidic,” he stressed. “I’ve seen some turn to junk in just three years, and at many farms they’re just laying around as scrap metal.”
While visiting his son in northeastern Wisconsin who feeds round bales every day to his herd of Black Angus cattle, Brunner said, “there has to be a solution – something that will sit on the ground, won’t rot and take the abuse from cattle – that can be used to make a bottom for these feeders.”
After trying a couple of different things, he came up with the idea of using old rear tractor tires which many farms have just lying around because they’re hard to get rid of due to the expense of disposal.
“That tractor tire will take more abuse than anything I can think of or that we can make,” he said.
The Brunners took a feeder that was shot, cut off the bottom and bolted it on an old tractor tire.
“We found it to be almost indestructible, and not affected by the high acidic content of manure and urine,” he said.
With the tire lying flat, he set the feeder ring right on top of the tire’s upper sidewall.
“We drilled holes in the tire and attached it to the metal frame with stainless steel tabs, bolts and washers,” he said.
Brunner cut out the inner sidewall to get a 70-inch opening on the bottom of the frame.
“The first one we built to a straight 70 inches, but we soon discovered that the top wasn’t big enough for the round or square bales,” Brunner recalled.
The next feeder was then built wider at the top so that a round or square bale will fit in the feeder.
“That cone shape also holds up the bale for easier feeding. Holes also were drilled in the bottom of the tire to provide for better water drainage,” he explained.
Brunner calls his product Extremely Tough Feeders, which is also the name of the company he formed to sell the feeders.
Along with using the tough tractor tires, another reason his bale feeders are tougher is because the frame is beefier, noting that most bale feeders on the market today are 14-gauge, which is about 4 thicknesses of aluminum foil.
“We build with heavy gauge steel,” Brunner emphasized. “We’re building with square tubing. Uprights are solid ¾-inch steel, the bottom ring is 1-½ by 1-½ inches, and the upper ring is 1-¼ by 1-¼ by 3/16 inches, which means they will outlast most all other feeders on the market today.”
The metal frame is 70 inches wide at the bottom, 96 inches wide at the top, and 46 inches high.
The Extremely Tough Feeders will fit on repurposed rear tractors 42 inches or larger that are supplied by the purchaser.
“Cost of a tire is minimal. If you don’t have one around you can get one from almost any tire dealer at little-to-no cost because he has to pay $35 to $40 to get rid of it,” he said.
The feeder also can be used for more than feeding hay bales, according to Brunner.
“Taking an old rubber stall mat, cutting off the corners and bolting it inside the tire allows you to feed grain, silage or TMR mix,” he explained.
Brunner consulted with UW Extension agents in the design of his product.
“Those who’ve seen it agree it’s a big improvement over most of what’s currently available,” he said.
All feeders come with a limited six-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship to the original purchaser from the date of purchase.
Because the top is made in two pieces, shipping is more convenient.
“Use four bolts to assemble the frame and six bolts to attach the tire, and it’s completely put together. We also supply the stainless steel fasteners with the unit,” he said.
“Because used tractor tires are provided by the farmers we are able to supply these quality feeders at a reasonable price,” Brunner said.
The Extremely Tough Feeders are expected to begin shipping in early June. For more information, including dealer inquiries call (715) 506-2336 or (715) 850-0908.