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Benefits of Merging

There are a number of benefits to merging hay as opposed to raking. We will go over a few of those benefits to help you understand how an Oxbo merger can help boost productivity as well as improve the feed quality.

Types of Rakes

There are a few different rake types that perform better or worse, depending on crops and field conditions. What they all have in common is that they roll, sweep or drag hay across the ground to make a windrow. As the crop is moved across the ground, dirt, rocks and other foreign material is rolled into the windrow with the forage, which raises ash content, reduces feed quality and creates the potential for more wear and tear on machinery.

  
 ROLLER BARROTARY WHEEL

What Sets Mergers Apart

Mergers have proven to produce better quality feed as a result of hay being lifted and conveyed off the ground. This lifting action helps reduce the amount of foreign material in the hay helping lower ash content. Windrow quality also improves by eliminating roping resulting in faster drying times. Mergers also provide a number of improvements in productivity and versatility.

Productivity

  • Merge speeds range from 2-12 MPH depending on crop conditions.
  • Merge up to 80 feet of hay into a single windrow.
  • Larger windrows make forage harvesters more efficient.
  • Hay-in-a-day with faster drying times.


Versatility

  • Do not need to follow the windrow made by the mower.
  • Can merge behind any mower.
  • Three individual conveyors can be operated independently.

Benefits of Reduced Ash Content

Higher nutritional quality of merged forage, due in part to lower ash content, produces a "home-grown milk-maker" and lessens the amount spent on uncontrolled costs of purchased commodities. Below are a couple articles that help highlight the benefits of merging when it comes to feed quality and ash content.


Hoard's Dairyman
Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin Extension Agronomist, May 25, 2007

Merging windrows rather than raking will result in hay or silage with less ash content since the windrow is picked up and moved horizontally by a conveyer rather than being rolled across the ground. Merging can result in 1 to 2 percent less ash in the hay or silage. Mergers are expensive and may not be economical on many farms though this could be an advantage of using a custom harvester.


ADVANCED AG SYSTEMS'
Crop Soil News
Tomas Kilcer, Certified Crop Advisor, May 2016

So, what is a little dirt in the tons of forage? For starters you have just inoculated a highly digestible, high sugar forage with a range of wild and not so beneficial bacteria and molds. They are not good for your cows or for making silage. Second, Dr. Sniffen of Fencrest LLC found that going from 9% to 11% ash will knock 1.9 pounds of milk off per cow per day. On a 100 cow dairy this is los of over $11, 590 in a 205 day lactation of high forage diet of 50% legume. I calculated for two mid west farms this year that simple ash levels were costing them $65,000 on one, and $75,000 on the other from lost milk production by feeding 2% more ash. Adjusting cutting height, and/or putting on extended skid plates will leave taller stubble to allow for tedding plus raking/merging without skyrocketing ash levels.