The Schweig Custom Mill
Published on Fri, 02/22/2013 - 9:46am
Today’s dairymen face a multitude of obstacles when it comes to being profitable. When analyzing why some producers are more profitable than others, milk production and feed costs are both strong indicators of profit. That being said, could something as simple as the manner in which feed is milled improve both these areas of your dairy business and more? A Wisconsin entrepreneur named Nathan Braunschweig says, “Yes!”
As a kid, one of Nathan Braunschweig’s after school chores was to crank up the roller mill and grind corn for the family’s dairy. Many hours were spent grinding—and cursing the short comings of the rolling process. While grinding, he thought of ways the process could be enhanced. After all, he and his father Niles frequently improved and made parts for farm equipment out of both necessity and an enjoyment of modifying equipment to improve efficiency.
Braunschweig’s creativity was further prompted when a nutritionist implied the family could curb costs by getting more mileage out of their corn by making it fluffier. With that, Braunschweig decided to design and make a rotary mill that would process corn with an open-faced cylinder in an attempt to do just that.
The first mill Braunschweig built was steel and utilized steel fence posts inside a drum that acted as knives. After much tinkering, he ultimately was able to produce fine enough corn to satisfy the nutritionist. This initial design became his prototype and he took his invention to a company that manufactured a larger version.
“What really made pushing this mill take hold for me, besides this, was several years back when we had a quick Fall and everybody was hurrying, trying to get their corn in. Guys were having trouble with corn coming out of the silo with black mold and I was the only one that had a machine that was grinding it. When I would grind it that mold would come right off of it. So that is when the concept really took a hold in me and I knew I was onto something that could really help guys.”
From there Braunschweig sold the initial mill to a local farmer named Doug Roe who thought the invention was an economical way to get fluffier corn into his 190-head dairy cow ration. “I knew Doug and asked him if he would try it, and then he bought it,” said Braunschweig.
Roe claimed his milk production went up 5 pounds per cow per day with less corn and that the unit (which cost half the price of a hammer mill) paid for itself within the first two months.
Word quickly spread throughout the local farming community about the young Wisconsin’s mill design and the results it was achieving.
Another success story of Braunschweig’s mill came in the way of farmer Steve Gentz. Gentz had a hammer mill which was still working but once Braunschweig showed him the final product after he milled some corn, Gentz became very interested. Gentz figured his cattle would be better able to utilize the starch in the corn because it was so much finer after Braunschweig’s grinding and fluffing process.
Once Gentz put Braunschweig’s mill into use, he claims his milk production jumped from 73 to 78 pounds of milk per day per cow. Unfortunately, Gentz’s butterfat content dropped by two-tenths initially. Surprisingly, after consulting his nutritionist, Gentz’s butterfat issue was easily rectified. His nutritionist recommended he back off 400 pounds of corn per day in his ration!
Once Gentz decreased the amount of corn he was milling and feeding to his cows, his butterfat content returned to an optimum level, protein content increased and his milk production eventually climbed to 80 pounds per cow per day- all within a month’s time.
Gentz claims he never expected to receive such an incredible return on his purchase and is thrilled with the productivity improvement he has achieved with Braunschweig’s mill.
Besides claims of improved feed efficiency, higher milk production and increased butterfat and protein content in milk, Braunschweig’s mill has also had a definite impact on overall herd health, according to its purchasers.
“Customers that have been using my mill for awhile keep telling me about how it has affected their overall herd health, too,” shares Braunschweig. “It seems to have made a difference and impact on the vitality of their herd. They tell me they have had less calving issues and subsequently those calves overall have been healthier, too.”
The mill now known as the Schweig Custom Mill (and patented as such) is really catching on. The ultimate patented design from Braunschweig is belt-driven with no rollers. It utilizes a high rpm cylinder that is fitted with stationary bars inside, while the cylinder sits inside a drum. Over time and testing, Braunschweig has narrowed the Schweig Custom Mill down to only two bearings, an open-faced cylinder, two belts and a motor which makes maintenance and repair extra simple and in some opinions non-existent.
Once the type of grain is selected it enters the Schweig Custom Mill for grinding and fluffing (not rolling or cracking) through a control plate which manages the rate at which grain comes into the mill. Once the grain is ground and fluffed inside the drum it exits through the bottom of the mill where it is augured into a selected mixer of choice.
The result of the grinding and fluffing process from the Schweig Custom Mill is apparent and shows in the final product. The fine, fluffed corn which it produces allows rumen bacteria easier access and breakdown of the feedstuff. This in turn allows better utilization and ultimately optimum feed conversion.
Advocates of Braunschweig’s patented design say they appreciate the simplicity and strength of the design, and welcome the fact that this mill requires little to zero maintenance. Additionally, while hammer mills crack corn and other grains in a screen and frequently plug up, the Schweig Custom Mill’s design removes this issue because it has no screen.
When it comes to durability and strength Braunschweig has left no stone unturned.
“The drum wall is 3/16-inch steel and the cylinder is 3/8-inch steel. It’s the same material you’d find on your skid steer or front-end loader bucket. You can run anything through this mill. We have even run 2x4s, bolts and all kinds of other stuff through it and it cut them into little balls and spit them right out.”
The included feature of the control plate sidesteps another industry complaint found with roller type milling. Because the Schweig Custom Mill controls feed flow during grinding and fluffing, the consistency of the processed grain is greatly improved as well- once again lending to better feed utilization and conversion.
The Schweig Custom Mill comes in four models which are designed for single-phase or triple-phase power. Braunschweig also welcomes custom orders or those which larger mills are required for.
“The most popular model is the Stage 2,” says the 28-year-old entrepreneur. “It’s the one that really does its job and it does it efficiently.”
Users of the Schweig Custom Mill also claim that it is much faster at grinding and fluffing than other various forms of processing. Braunschweig says his basic sized mill can process, grind and fluff somewhere between 110 and 120 pounds of corn per minute, which makes other forms of rolling and cracking seem senseless.
With the invention of the Schweig Custom Mill, it’s both rare and refreshing to see something that can pay for itself in a matter of only a few months.
Braunschweig adds a comment regarding what farmers are accustomed to expecting with new investments. “Farmers generally save money over the course of their lifetime of farming, not within a few months. That’s something that makes me feel good about what I have created. It’s nice to provide farmers with a product that they can see a quick return on.”
In today’s dairy business, improving one aspect of a farm’s bottom line is something to be excited over. When better herd health, lower overall feed costs and a marked improvement in production can all be realized so quickly, it’s exciting to realize the impact it can have on a farm’s financial picture. However when an investment in all these things can yield a return in only two months—well that’s monumental.
Braunschweig is vigorously promoting direct sales of his Schweig Custom Mill. He is also looking for distributors that may be interested in adding his Schweig Custom Mill to their product lines.
For more information about the Schweig Custom Mill or becoming a distributor of the Schweig Custom Mill, please contact Nathan Braunschweig at 920-904-0993.