Agricultural and Farming Products and Equipment Information
Agricultural farming products and equipment concerns all tools and machinery used in horticulture and animal husbandry. A wide variety of equipment and products are required based on the industries and operations of a particular farm.
The agricultural industry has seen a drastic reduction in labor needs in the past century due to mechanization improvements; further labor reductions are expected as automation and digitalization yield more efficiencies.
The following is an abridged list of products and equipment that play significant roles in agriculture.
General Agricultural Equipment
A ruggedized camera system for a variety of farm uses, such as monitoring equipment or livestock.
Thirty years later, the digital revolution has been well-received in the agricultural industries. Ag computer systems and software enable operators to monitor linked equipment, animal locations, supply quantities, and numerous other tasks. As in other arenas, computers have reduced paperwork and labor and increased productivity.
Fencing plays an important role in creating and demarcating boundaries on farms. This can contain herds and individual animals within a specified area, and excludes wild predators. It also establishes property boundaries. Wire fencing (barbed, smooth, high-tensile, woven, deer), electrified fencing, chain-link fencing, and wooden post-and-rails are all common fencing styles. Gates are integrated to facilitate access to fenced areas.
Fueling and Energy
Since many farm operations center around the use of vehicles, on-site reservoirs of diesel and gasoline are common. Storage and transfer tanks can be buried, or mounted on trailers or skids for easy repositioning. Pumps, meters, hoses, and nozzles are also required.
Propane systems are useful for many applications, such as irrigation engines, grain dryers, building and water heating, flame weed control, vehicles, and standby generators.
Farms also require substantial electrical energy that is typically derived from electrical grids. This can be supplemented with alternative energy solutions such as windmills and photovoltaic systems.
There is no means to describe the importance of hand tools such as shovels, rakes, scythes, picks, hoes, and the hundreds of other instruments for all the tasks requiring attention on a farm. The abilities of these instruments are often mechanized to reduce individual labor, but they remain vital to small and unique tasks. Also included are power tools such as drills, saws, sanders, and more.
Many farms continue to be tended by families and small companies, though commercial agriculture has been on the rise since the industrial revolution. As such, farms often feature classic farmhouses as well as lodgings for seasonal or permanent farmhands. Animal structures require ventilation, and typically heating and cooling equipment as well. Many other buildings are maintained for agricultural operations.
- Barn: for housing animals or storing crops or machinery
- Silo: for storing grain, silage, seed, or feed
- Stable: for housing horses
- Pigsty: an outdoor enclosure for sheltering swine
- Chicken coop: a shed-like structure for housing hens
- Garage/workshops: for working on and storing machinery
- Shed: for housing small animals and basic storage needs
- Pasture shelter: basic shelter for animals in pasture
- Dairy facility: a dedicated area for milking cows, goats, sheep, etc.
- Winery/brewery/distillery: on-site fermenting and kegging equipment
- Office: to oversee operations
- Greenhouse: for seed germination or hydroponic cultivation
Windbreaker/canopy: an angled, walled structure for animals to seek shelter from high winds and overbearing sun
This represents the cultivation of water-dwelling organisms such as plants, fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. Seawater aquaculture farms typically cordon off sections of coastline with concrete caissons and nets made of nylon, polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene, wire, rubber, rope, steel, copper, or other alloys. Plants and animals can often be fostered together to create an integrated, codependent ecosystem, while ocean currents maintain the contained environment.
reshwater aquaculture poses more challenges. Farmers must be more active in the management of their farms, and cultivation typically takes place in man-made or natural ponds in warm climates, or large freshwater tanks when indoors. Common equipment includes:
- Containment equipment (tanks, nets, etc.)
- Aerators and fountains
- Feeders (and feed)
- Water pumps and filters
- Lighting (including UV sterilization lights)
- Water chilling and warming equipment (heat exchangers, immersion heaters, chillers, deicers and more)
- Faux habitat
- Cleaning equipment (brushes, vacuums, scrubbers, and disinfectants)
- Controllers, monitors, sensors, and interfaces
- Hatchery supplies (for caring and raising pregnant and adolescent organisms)
- Chemical water conditioners (for managing algae, bacteria, salinity, ice, weeds, fertilization, pH, and other factors)
- Various hand tools
Various laboratory appliances
Crops grown without soil absorb nutrients from roots submerged in water. Crops can be grown in individual reservoirs, but are typically cultivated in large-volume gullies. Pumps supply water pressure to distribute nutrients. Two reservoirs are typically maintained, one with fresh water, the other with soluble nutrients. A controller can deliver nutrients on a timetable. Conductivity meters analyze available nutrients levels. Aerators are needed for systems that completely submerge plant roots. Lighting, greenhouse environment, and ventilation are also hydroculture requirements.
Subirrigation is often considered a type of hydroculture. In lowlands and valleys with naturally high water tables it is possible to raise the table so plants are irrigated at the roots. Raising the water table requires a system of pumps, canals, and gates.
Insects are raised to provide food to animals and humans, or to help in the cultivation of crops by eating pest bugs or pollinating plants. Crickets, meal-worms, ladybugs, hoverflies, and mealybugs are common biocontrol insects, among others.
Maintaining a hive or hives of bees to collect products produced by bees, such as wax, propolis, pollen, and royal jelly. Bees also pollinate crops. Equipment includes:
- Smoker: to pacify bees to harvest products
- Cloake board and excluder: to make a colony designate a new queen bee
- Jenter kit: fosters the development of new queen bees
- Honey extractor: to extract honey from honeycombs
- Honey super: a human-crafted beehive
- Hive frame: allows parts of the honeycomb to be removed for inspection
Personal protective equipment: to prevent beekeepers from being stung while working
Personal Protective Equipment
Farmers and farmhands require proper garments to reduce the chance of injury and discomfort. This includes basics such as steel-toed boots and gloves, as well as application specific workwear, such as respirators when applying atomized chemicals, ear protection when operating loud equipment, and glasses or goggles when eye injuries are a risk. Also included in this category are items such as sunscreen and bug repellant.
Work on farms starts and stops with the tractor, which replaced draft animals for the majority of labor needs in the early 20th century. With the right attachments a tractor could solely complete the majority of tasks needed to tend a farm. Tractors supply high torque at low speeds from an internal combustion engine powered by gasoline, kerosene, diesel, biodiesel, or liquefied petroleum gas. They tow heavy loads and farming equipment in off-road terrain, and can also supply mechanical power (power take-off) to versatile attachments which determine functionality. Some tractors have locomotion supplied by caterpillar treads. Hiboy tractors have additional ground clearance to pass crops without damaging them. Another variant is the two-wheeled tractor, which places a motor above a single-axis; the operator walks beside it or rides on the towed equipment. There are also monowheel tractors, which in fact have three wheels.
Attachments mate with most modern tractors via a three-point hitch or by hydraulic arms on the front of the vehicle. Tractors also supply power take-off (PTO) for countless external and attached mechanisms. Tractors come in a variety of form factors, from the classic open-cab design, to walk-behind models and large industrial tractors. Tractor tread widths, body designs, and ground clearances also vary depending on the types of crops being attended.
Common attachments for tractors include:
- Auger: creates holes to install posts and retaining walls, as well as other uses
- Bale handler: to move wrapped and rolled bales
- Bale spear: to move unwrapped hay bales
Bale unroller: to unravel and distribute hay bales
- Blower/vacuum: an air pressure system to dissipate or collect grass or debris
- Boom pole: for various lifting and hauling tasks
- Brushcutter: cuts down overgrowth
- Bucket: basic aggregate collection bucket
- Chaser bin: a large cart equipped with a grain hopper to collect crops during harvest
- Cultipacker: builds seedbeds
- Cultivator: aerates soil and reduces weeds
- Destoner: pushes dirt clogs and rocks from soil ridges for better planting
- Disc harrow: cuts down weeds and crop leftovers
- Feed wagon: general trailer for hauling livestock feed
- Forage harvester: a type of harvester that picks up displaced or cut foliage and plant material
- Grader: to level soils or grade levels
- Harrow: buries seeds and refines soil bed
- Harvester: shears and picks crops; tractor-towed harvesters are typically only for small-acreage harvesting
- Hay rake: turns over cut hay and straw so it dries quicker
- Land leveler: for creating uniform soil grades
- Log splitter: to cut logs on-site
- Mower/cutter: for maintaining grass or field brush
- Middle buster: for trenching or planting and harvesting potatoes
- Pallet jack: for material handling
- Pasture topper: a mower for cutting pasture
Planter: plants seeds in uniform rows
- Plow: turns over soil to expose nutrients and bury surface soil
- Receiver hitch: transforms a tractor's drawbar or three-point hitch into an average trailer hitch
- Rock picker: removes rocks from soil
- Roller: breaks and flattens soil
- Seed drill: precisely establishes seed position in soil
- Shovel/bucket: a digging arm, smaller than those found on backhoes
- Snowplow: to clear snowfall
- Sprayer: for distributing pesticides, chemicals, or other liquids
- Spreader: for distributing manure, topsoil, or other firm aggregate
- Subsoiler: relieves deep soil compaction
- Sweeper: rotary brush for sweeping debris
- Tedder: redistributes cut hay and straw for faster drying
- Tiller: mixes soil to expose nutrients
- Transplanter: tows riders that plant germinated plants into seedbeds; a chain bucket lift driven by a wheel conveys germinated plants and prepares the seedbed
Transport box: a small cargo deck
Pick-up trucks fulfill many light hauling and passenger transportation jobs on farms; however they may not have the all-terrain capability that utility task vehicles can provide, or the multi-role support and PTO available in a vehicle such as a Unimog. These vehicles are increasingly common to meet the dynamic needs of the agricultural industry.
Utility task vehicles (also called side-by-sides) typically can carry two or four persons, include a cargo box, and have four or six tires. Their primary purpose is to work off-road and carry equipment. Cab styles, towing capacity, wheel count, performance capabilities, and attachments vary by manufacturer and model.
The Unimog is a highly-customizable, 4x4 Mercedes-Benz vehicle (pictured right) that provides PTO for attachable and external tools. The primary benefit is its road speed and application flexibility. They often utilize a cargo box even if they do not have the load capacity of a full-sized truck, as well as a powerful engine for hauling, though Unimogs also have less torque than a tractor. Several other manufacturers produce vehicles of a similar nature, though the Unimog is considerably the most successful of this unnamed vehicle class.
A cropduster is an airplane outfitted with a reservoir and spray nozzles along the wingspan for fast, high-volume application of sprayable media, such as fertilizer or pesticides. Seeds can also be distributed via aerial application. Cropdusters require hangars and runways, expensive facilities that put them out of reach for small and medium-sized agricultural operations—service providers often fill this void.
Recent advancements in drones and UAVs are facilitating accessibility to aerial application techniques, and also offer ways to observe crops remotely.
Several types of semi-trailers are prevalent for on-road hauling of agricultural products.
Livestock: These trailers are specifically manufactured for the on-road transportation of hooved animals. They feature tailgates and ramps so herds or individuals can be driven onto the trailer deck. These trailers can be open or closed but must allow the transmittance of air and light. They feature textured floors for animal stability and some can have two or three stacked decks, depending on the animal. These trailers can typically be sprayed down for easy washing. Horse trailers are also manufactured and often include windows, troughs, and other comforts.
Grain trailer: for transporting bulk quantities of grain or seed; several subtypes exist.
Belly dump: grain is loaded by dumping into an open top, but extracted from swinging doors under the hopper
Continuous dump: grain is removed from the trailer via a conveyor belt
Tipper: the trailer bed inclines and grain falls out by gravity
Flatbed: primarily used to haul machinery and large items; drop-deck trailers will rest on the ground for easier loading and unloading.
Tanker: to haul liquid products; chilled tanks are used for milk transport
Material Handling Equipment
Backhoe and Excavators
Though these are primarily recognized as construction equipment, they are quite serviceable for agricultural purposes. Backhoes are a specific type of tractor equipped with hydraulically-actuated tools, typically an excavator and bucket scoop. They can clear land, help erect or demolish structures, dig and trench, and provide bulk material handling.
Excavators are solely used for digging purposes, but often have larger, more powerful excavators than those on a backhoe. Individual and family farms are unlikely to own a backhoe or excavator simply due to expense and maintenance, but service contractors and equipment shares are common in farming communities. Tools on backhoes and excavators can often be swapped for other implements.
A light construction vehicle with a bucket scoop for moving bulk aggregate, such as dirt, hay, and manure. Interchangeable tools greatly enhance the versatility of this machine.
Forklifts and Telehandlers
A variety of pallet jacks can be useful short-haul freight handling. More information is available on the pallet jack page.
A manual, electric, or pneumatic hoist allows heavy items to be lifted. Agricultural hoists could be found in barns, workshops, and garages for a variety of tasks.
A towable, inclined conveyor belt or chain that moves haybales so they can be stored in a barn loft, transferred into truck beds, or stacked.
Stacks loose hay into wind-resistant piles up to 30 ft. high. Fell out of common usage but is regaining popularity as it does not require fuel.
Grain and Seed Handling Equipment
Grain aerators, heaters, and dryers: to condition grain for storage
Grain auger/conveyor: a device for bulk transfer of seed
Grain dryer: dehydrates grain for better storage
Grain bagger: hopper with nozzle to package grains for storage
Grain extractor: removing grains in bulk from packaged bags
Grain leg: a permanent structure for bulk transfer of seed; uses a chain-bucket system
Grain vacuum: an air pressure-powered means to transfer and clean up grains
Seed tender: a towable trailer with hopper for transporting and distributing seed and grain
Seed bins: storage hopper for seeds; typically with a gravity-activated dispenser
Grain bins: large, round storage structure for holding grain
Paddle sweep: chain-driven rubber sweeper to move grain in grain bins
Wheelbarrows and Hand Trucks
A common tool for hauling medium loads short distances. Wheelbarrows are better for aggregate media; hand trucks are better for packaged cargo.
Numerous pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and nematicides, as well as fertilizers, manure, hormones, and nutritional agents and supplements. Significant equipment is needed to support the use of agrochemicals, such as storage tanks and applicators, safety handling and spillage equipment, and procedures to transport and dispose of chemicals. The equipment and processes are highly regulated.
These machines reshape sheared hay, straw, cotton, and silage into approximately 4 ft. x 4 ft. rectangles or cylinders bound by twine, straps, a net, or wire. Cut crops are collected from windrows formed by rakes or tedders. This makes handling, transporting, and storing quantities of these crops easier. Balers can be tractor-towed or dedicated vehicles. A bale spear is generally to easiest way to move unwrapped bales; wrapped bales are moved with bale handler attachments and pallet forks.
A separate tractor-powered machine that wraps formed bales in plastic film to exclude air. Satellite-type wrappers pick up bales with two low-clearance rollers that spin bales while an orbiting arm wraps the bale in plastic. Turntable-types use a bale handler to load bales onto two rollers and turntable while a stationary film dispenser wraps the bale. Typically the whole table lifts to eject the finished bale. In-line bale wrappers have two dispensers on a rotating circle device. Conveyors feed bales through the circle while it rotates.
Satellite-style bale wrapper
Scientifically-engineered biological products have had immense impact on the agricultural sector as a whole. Examples include:
- Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs): crop DNA is scientifically imparted with genes from another organism. This increases the genetic diversity of the plant so it can better withstand challenges such as drought, pests, diseases, toxins, or to improve the vitality and nourishment of the crop. GMOs are a divisive topic for several reasons; GMO crops are scientifically considered safe to cultivate and eat. Animals are increasingly genetically-engineered.
- Molecular diagnostics: a gene analysis to detect crop and livestock diseases; can also be used to analyze livestock DNA for selective breeding
- Vaccines: develops antibodies to protect livestock against common illnesses
Tissue cultures: desirable crops can be cloned and replanted
Birds frequently feed on crops and seeds, and a flock of birds can easily have a severe impact on harvesting yields. A variety of techniques and equipment can be used, though it varies based on bird size and intelligence. (Link to Pest Control Products and Equipment page)
- Visual alarms: scarecrows; bird-of-prey imitations (hawk kite, helikite, faux owls); balloons
- Auditory alarms: propane cannons; electronic and ultrasonic alarms; gun powder cartridges; sonic nets
Other alarms: predators (dogs and real birds-of-prey); UAVs and drones; fireworks; bird spikes (to prevent perching)
Harvesting many surface plants is accomplished by combines, which can be discrete vehicles or tractor-towed machines. Vehicle units are off-road gasoline- or diesel-powered units with a high driver cab for visibility. They are usually wheeled, but tread or wheel and tread models are also manufactured. Some include hillside leveling systems for harvesting on slopes.
Combines utilize interchangeable tools, called heads, that are specific to the type of crop collected. They are responsible for shearing or picking and sending crops to the feedhouse, where crops are further processed by integral combine machinery.
In conventional combines, crops move from the head via conveyor to the feed accelerator that in turn moves crops to the rotor for threshing. Threshed grains fall into the grain tank, while chaff and debris is moved to a chaffing mechanism to further divide grains from the plant. The processing speed and threshing tolerances are operator controlled to handle different crops. Plant debris is expelled from the back of the harvester, and can be collected for baling or left in the field. The grain tank is periodically emptied into a grain hopper, usually towed by a tractor or even the combine itself. Rotary-style combines thresh crops via one or two augers situated lengthwise in the combine.
- Grain platform: uses a toothed metal reel to cut and feed into horizontal augers directed at the feedhouse
- Corn head: reciprocating blades cut stalks and sends corn into the feedhouse
- Forage harvester: collects loosened and cut foliage and plant material from fields
- Pickup head: useful for short-grain windrow harvesting
- Cotton picker: strippers grasp bloomed cotton as well considerable plant matter, and then separates the materials through gravity; or rotating, barbed spindles remove the seed-cotton from the plant and a doffer isolates the cotton from plant material
Cane harvester: a boom equipped with saws shred sugar canes from top to bottom while being fed through vertical augers that direct cut cane into the feedhouse
Many crops require unique harvesting machines. This is mostly due to unique picking requirements, as with root and orchard crops, crop size (small nuts or fruits), or crop picking techniques.
Crops with application-exclusive harvesting machines include carrot; beet; onion; leek and garlic; dill, chive, and radish; palm; rapeseed; spinach; potato; cabbage; tomato; pepper; bean; rice; coffee bean; tobacco; tea; mango; grape; orchard (apple, pear, plum, lemon, peach, apricot, and walnut); cherry, berry, and olives.
A swather is used in northern climates to cut hay or small grain crops due to shorter growing seasons. Cut grains will dehydrate faster, a necessity before harvest. Swathers cut these crops and a conveyor organizes and layers them into windrows for later collection.
Nut harvesters grab the trunks of trees and shake them to force loose nuts (almonds, pecans, etc.) to fall.
Chicken harvesters collect chickens and place them in a holding area, typically before being sent for slaughter.
Complex and simple watering systems are implemented to keep crops hydrated. Some topographical engineering is required for most irrigation techniques.
Basin irrigation floods a near-level field surrounded by dikes with water up to the crop stalks, before depleting as water runs downstream. Furrow irrigation fills long basins dug between crop rows. Border irrigation digs long and wide bays that are flooded like a basin. Slide gates can be used to tap on-site reservoirs or to open flow from pipes. Buried hydrants are also common. Furrows are often flooded with water pipelines run through fields or by canals placed at the highest point in the field with siphons carrying water to furrows. These technologies have seen recent automation innovations where possible.
High pressure water is pumped to an elevated gun, sprinkler, or rotor than simulates rainfall. Overhead systems can be stationary mounts that are interlinking by pipe networks. Overhead nozzles can also be attached to vehicles with an on-board water supply, or be linked by a reeled hose to a cart that is pulled across the field as the hose is retracted.
Center Pivot Irrigation
This system connects overhead sprinklers and nozzles via a truss to a centralized water supply. The truss is outfitted with wheels and rotated 360° to water crops. Electric motors at each support tower provide locomotion and the outermost wheels determine irrigation pace; a full rotation typically takes two or three days.
Wheel Line Irrigation
In this instance a truss with wheels is outfitted with nozzles, just as with center pivot systems. However the truss is stationary and must be moved by hand or towed to a new location. This is more labor intensive but also allows irrigation of unusually shaped fields and provides more crop oversight.
Hoses or pipes are run through fields to supply water at each individual plant. This reduces run-off and the amount of fertilizer and water required. Water is typically delivered right at the root or soil surface by a drip, trickle, or misting nozzle. Various valves, pumps, filters, and controllers are needed for comprehensive drip irrigation systems.
Standing reservoirs water plants via capillary action created by nylon or polyester fabric materials. This method is self-watering but requires periodic manual maintenance.
Piping and sprinklers are buried in fixed locations throughout a field or pasture. Valves, pumps, and controllers route water to certain systems and zones for predetermined intervals. Smart controllers can sense water levels and irrigate automatically. Water pressure causes sprinkler heads to raise, and once the pressure is removed the heads retract. These systems are more common for residential and commercial applications.
Mowers, Brush Cutters, Hedge Cutters, and Tree Trimmers
These machines utilize a shearing mechanism, such as a rotary blade, reciprocating blade, or flail, to cut down excessive plant growth, usually weeds, grass, and shrubland. These machines can be attached to a tractor, but discrete vehicles and walk-behind models are also manufactured. Mowers and brush cutters help establish new pasture and farmland and maintain landscapes; hedge cutters contain excessive growth from bushes, hedges, verges, and trees. These devices can often be outfitted on tractors and Unimogs. Tree trimmers outfit a boom or articulate arm with a saw to remove high branches.
Machinery that processes collected crops and displaces specimens that are bruised, mis-sized, damaged, or discolored.
Woodchipper, Tub Grinder, and Log Splitter
Woodchippers fragmentize logs or planks into wood mulch and pulp. They are typically loaded by hand. Farmers use woodchips to manage nitrates in nearby watersheds. Woodchippers are typically towed, but discrete woodchippers on vehicles are also manufactured.
Tub grinders are essentially larger, top-loaded wood chippers that are fed waste wood by bucket loaders or telehandlers. Tub grinders are usually mounted on semi-trailers.
Hydraulic log splitters break hardwood or softwood rounds into firewood. A hydraulic or electric piston with a wedge delivers immense force to the flat side of a log. Some log splitters are mounted on dedicated trailers, while others are tractor-mounted.
Milking cows, sheep, and goats and processing milk requires highly-specialized equipment. A variety of paddocks, stalls, and milking sheds or parlors can contain animals within a milking area. In some instances hand milking into pails is still implemented, but milking machines have been the predominant technology for many years. Milking systems consist of four milking shells each outfitted with a softened rubber liner. Shells are attached to animal teats that suck milk with pressure created by a vacuum and pulsators to massage milk from the teats. Milk proceeds to a chilled bulk tank, sometimes after passing through a heat exchanger.
Automatic milking systems are the modern incarnation of the milking machine. These systems allow the animal to select when to be milked (voluntary milking). As the animal approaches a tag or RFID chip is read, and if the animal has been milked recently it can bypass the milker. If the animal is ready to be milked, a robot senses the animal's teats, cleans them and then attaches a milking machine. It automatically releases and the animal is allowed to proceed, often to a reward such as pasture or feed. Collected milk is later sent to an industrial dairy processing facility.
Chicken eggs are collected, either by hand in baskets, or by inclined floors that allow eggs to roll to a centralized collection point. There is significant controversy in using chicken rearing methods that restricts the bird's freedom of movement and is under increasing legislative scrutiny in industrialized nations. Additional egg grading, cleaning, and packaging equipment is also required. Chickens also may require items such as heat lamps
Hoses, brushes, and detergents are needed to bathe animals. This can be done to promote herd hygiene, clean wool before shearing, or prepare animals for display. Brushers and scratch posts are also common.
Removing the wool from sheep and general animal grooming requires dedicated systems. Mechanical clippers are used to remove wool and are driven by an internal electric motor or an external electric motor connected via a flexible driveshaft. Combs and scissors are also needed. Crates and mounts to hold or tie animals in place are typically needed; a suspended harness can offer the human operator ergonomic support.
Certain animals require grinders or cutters to prevent nails from becoming too long. Nails that break are a health hazard.
Equipping a horse's hooves with horseshoes greatly reduces the amount of wear on hooves. Shoes are nailed or glues to a horse's feet. Certain countries require authorized individuals to apply horseshoes due to the potential for pain or abuse; when done correctly, horses experience no pain or discomfort.
Feeding and Watering
Raising livestock on a farm requires acquiring, storing and dispensing animal feed. Animal feed can be purchased from a supplier or collected from farmlands. Adequate fresh water supply is also necessary.
Supplying water to animals can be done in troughs, or with dedicated dispensers. Troughs require regular replenishment and flushing. They are inexpensive but also labor intensive.
Dispensers can be hooked into water supplies or wells for self-replenishment. Ruggedized dispensers also come with a heating or agitating mechanism to prevent freezing. Dispensers are typically built to a height that is ergonomic for the species being watered. Floats or lids can also be implemented to keep supplies clean. Fountains or sprayers can attract animals to water sources and help them cool off, but guardrails may be necessary to prevent them from standing in the water supply. Animals can also be watered from a hung dispenser with a nipple or dipper.
Salt blocks are also necessary for animals who may need electrolyte replacement. Salt blocks are provided in block holders, attached to posts, or even left on the ground.
Animal feed can be made on the farm or purchased from a supplier. Farms that supply the majority of their own feed need machinery such as a feed mixer or grinder-mixer to create the appropriate particle size and ingredient ratio. Dietary supplements, such as vitamins and minerals, are often fed to livestock to improve health.
In general, cattle subsist on forage (grass, legumes, or silage) and varying portions of hay, soy, grain, and corn. Feed aggregate is dispensed into troughs or pails; bales are dispensed in bale feeders. Creep feeders are self-replenishing.
Pigs and hogs eat a food mixture of grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as many scraps from human dinners and food waste. Many countries limit the meat content of pig slop. Swine are typically fed from low troughs, though hoppers and tube feeders are also common.
Horses, ponies, mules, donkeys and related animals prefer to graze in pastures on legumes, grasses, and hay. This type of forage can be collected directly from fields and processed into bales for storage. Forage is allotted into bale, rack, or net feeders.
Rations of grains, oats, corn, barley, and wheat bran also constitute healthy equine diets. Horse feed manufacturers produce pellet concentrates with varying ratios of the above food supplies, including supplements. Pellet concentrates are easier to store and transport, but should not provide the majority of equine nourishment. Grains and pellets are distributed in troughs or pails. Horses are occasionally given treats, such as carrots, apples, sugar cubes, or manufactured horse biscuits.
Chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and other farm-raised birds subsist on poultry feed, composed of scratch grains and supplements (vitamins, minerals, oyster shells, or grit). It can be offered as mash (a large-particle powder), pellets, or crumbles (broken pellets for chicks). Feed is usually spread by hand from buckets for pecking.
Sheep and Goat
Sheep and goats are pasture grazers, preferring fresh grass, clovers, forbs, and weeds for the majority of their diet. Stored hay, silage, pasture clippings, as well as grains and soybean and cottonseed meal are also eaten. Pelletized feed contains essential dietary supplements, as well as medications to reduce the chance of coccidiosis, an intestinal parasite disease.
However, pelletized feeds are different for these species: goats cannot digest cellulose as well as sheep, but are not as sensitive to copper toxicity as sheep. When co-mingled, sheep products should be fed with supplements given to goats. Pelletized sheep and goat feeds are fed in troughs, hoppers, and tube feeders, while hay is fed in bale, rack, and creep feeders.
A thin animal pen that prevents the animal from turning. Typically animals are placed into these thin pens so they can be inspected and treated, and farmhands don't have to worry about being kicked, bitten, or gored.
Incubators and Brooders
Incubators maintain the proper environment to care for chicken eggs. Once hatched, chicks are placed into a brooder for the same purpose.
Saddles and Bridles
An ergonomic mount for horses, donkeys, and mules to carry a human or cargo on their backs. A bridle is outfitted on the animals head so it can be lead or directed.
An accredited veterinarian can diagnose ill animals and offer treatment. This is a critical component to animal care, especially as disease can spread rapidly amongst animals living together.