Young Entrepreneur Improves Mill

Published on Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:56am

This is the low rpm motor on top of the gear box. The gear box helps out with more of the load. Nutritionists are constantly tweaking rations in order to get cows to produce more milk while maintaining health and vitality. When the nutritionist on Nathan Braunschweig’s family’s farm suggested that they could stretch their corn supply by cracking the corn more, making it more fluffy, he set out to find a way to get the job done.

The young entrepreneur didn’t like the way a hammer mill cracked the corn in a screen and he didn’t like the consistency of a corn that went through a roller mill. So Braunschweig decided to design a rotary mill that would crack the corn with an open-faced cylinder.

He made the first one eight years ago, using steel fence posts for “knives” in a drum. After playing around with it a while, he was able to get this homemade mill to produce corn that was fine enough to satisfy his nutritionist. That mill became his prototype and Braunschweig went on to take his invention to a company in Mayville where a larger version was manufactured.

He sold that mill to an area farmer who felt it was an economical way to accomplish his goal of getting fluffier corn in the ration for his 190 dairy cows. When that farmer’s milk production went up and corn consumption went down, word spread in the farming community and demand for the mill increased.

Those who have the mill say they like the idea that it is simple, strong and maintenance-free. Since there is no screen, the mill won’t plug up. It has a plate to control the feed flow.

The mill is belt-driven and has no rollers. Instead it uses a high rpm cylinder set inside a drum. The cylinder is equipped with six welded-on staggered shear bars that chop up corn.

A control plate is used to control the rate at which the corn enters the machine. Ground up material comes out the bottom where it is augered into a cart or total mixed ration mixer.

Recognizing that he had created something unique in what he calls the Schweig mill, Braunschweig set out to get a patent for the mill. It was a long process - three years - and required a good patent attorney, but he finally received it and is now able to manufacture and sell his mill.

Braunschweig now works as a service technician for Northland Industries in Chilton. That company provided space for showing off his mill at the Wisconsin Public Service Farm Show in Oshkosh last March and that led to even more interest in the mill. Then a story in a national farm innovation publication led to orders from farmers as far away as Texas.

The mills come in three sizes - Stage 2 is a 2-foot drum and needs a 10 horsepower motor. Stage 3 is a 3-foot model and needs a 15 horsepower motor. Stage 4 is 4 feet and needs a 25 horsepower motor. Because the mills are custom-built, Braunschweig will build any size a customer requests. His customers so far range from 50-cow farms to an 800-cow organic dairy.

His literature says a mill with a 10 horsepower motor is capable of grinding 1,300 pounds in 8 minutes for a total mixed ration. Because it grinds the feed so quickly, it uses less power and speeds the process of mixing feed.

With increased interest in his mills, Braunschweig has now contracted with a shop in Fond du Lac to manufacture the mills. As the new year begins, he already has orders for 20 mills.

The 27-year-old inventor has always been innovative. As a child he and his brother created lots of toys with parts and gadgets around the farm. His mother, Barb, who helps him with marketing the mill, says, “When they were little they received a toy farm tractor and it didn’t take long before they had duals on it and made modifications to suit their needs.”

As a 4-H’er Braunschweig received a Natural Science award from the Milwaukee Museum of Science for a miniature blower that he made that actually worked. As he got older, he made more practical things including a 15-foot-tall, 36-inch-round “Harvestore” silo to hold shelled corn for the family’s chickens and geese. The first one was made with stacked 55-gallon barrels. Then he came across some used Harvestore silo panels and silo bolts, and he formed the silo, sealing it like the bigger versions that stand on his family’s farm. It holds 2 tons of feed that he augers out to feed the poultry.

Braunschweig was inspired by his dad who often made parts or improved pieces of equipment on their farm with his own ideas. Unlike his son, Niles Braunschweig never patented any of the things he made. He just made them out of necessity and for his own use.

Both father and son modify equipment just to make jobs easier or more efficient.

The young entrepreneur’s creative wheels are always turning. Braunschweig listens to the needs of farmers he meets, and as manufacturing begins on this piece of equipment, he is already working on his next invention to satisfy specific needs on the farm.