Tuesday, September 29, 2015

7 Ways to Market Your Stock

It use to take an ad in the Spokesman, breakfast at the local restaurant, maybe showing, and attending the auction.  That's what it took to advertise your livestock.  We are in a whole other ball game now.  See these 7 easy-to-start ways to promote your operation and generate more quality sales.


Everyone Googles.  Be Visible.  Creating an SEO friendly website is becoming very accessible with sites like WordPress and GoDaddy.  You don't have to write code, just drop in content, photos, and videos.  Be sure to include contact information for potential customers.  This is one of the most common things folks forget when building their website.  This is also a great way to collect all of your efforts in one location.



Connecting Producers and Consumers is becoming a high priority for our customers.  They want to know about real life on the farm and how the raising of livestock process works.  This is a great way to build a personal relationship with potential customers as well as other producers that have the potential of helping you or vice versa.  Blogs can be set up in a matter of minutes.  The site we use is Blogger.  Again, we like the plug and publish capability.  When creating a Blog, be sure to title it something relevant so people can find you.  A great way to do this is to think about words that describe you and describe what you do.  One of the great local examples of this is Cristen.  Her Blog is called Food & Swine.  You don't have to guess what she will be talking about!



This the typical way to advertise your stock.  Participate in shows and auctions around your region.  Have your livestock out in front of the public.  Another way to do this is on your farm.  Did you just put up a new building?  Have a show day with the building reps.  Be sure to prep your livestock for these types of events.  Does your community have an event you fit?  Perhaps you have a grilling event or talks connecting producers and consumers.  The options here are endless.  Be sure to promote any event you are a part of.


Social Media is becoming critical.  People like to have something to search and connect with online.  Be sure to match your social media presence, website, blog, print advertising, etc. so you are presenting one cohesive look and feel.  This increases your chances of potential customers seeing you and your livestock several times and will be first in their mind when it comes time to purchase.  The most important aspect of social media is engaging with others.  Respond when people engage with you and engage with other industry leaders to create a community.  The most common options are Facebook and Twitter.  There are also community forums related to most industries to be involved.

Be an Expert

You are an expert.  Nobody can raise livestock like you.  This doesn't mean you have to give away all of your secrets, but people want to hear what you have to say.  Volunteer to speak at events or judge shows and competitions.  Help with your local 4H or FFA.  Bring "city kids" out to the farm to help them learn about what it takes to raise livestock.


This is the next best thing to showing your stock in person.  Post videos with a YouTube account, send Snap chats to your friends, put your videos on your website and share them on social media.  This is all about sharing the real farming experience.  People are no longer just purchasing an animal.  They are buying into your system, breed, and you.  Show them what they are getting.


This is where you put yourself into your brand.  Create a recognizable logo for all of your promotions including tags, print, and online presence.  Find what makes you different.  Are you great at cooking?  Prepping livestock for shows?  Teaching your kids and other little ones?  Fixing equipment in a pinch?  Use these as methods for promoting your farm and products.

The most important thing is to put yourself out there.  No one will know you exist unless they can find you.  Connect, plug yourself into the community.

We'd love to hear about your farm stories and what events you have coming up!  Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook or Comment below.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Roadside Management

Iowa is always at the cutting edge of change:

  • One of the first states to pass laws in support of the civil rights movement
  • Leading the way for women's rights
  • Our pharmacy board was the first to classify marijuana as a schedule II drug
  • Creating a healthier state through Live Healthy Iowa and the Blue Zones Project
  • Creating crop, product, and solution advances at our universities
Just to name a few.

One of these projects is the Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program

According to their website, "Iowa was one of the first states to establish IRVM programs at the city, county, and state levels."  They are leading the way in our shift from extensive mowing and herbicides to a more native approach.

They are working to find cost-effective, efficient, natural, and environment building solutions for a large percentage of our state's land.  The IRVM project is operated through University of Northern Iowa's Tall Prairegrass Center.  They provide resources and assistance to counties, states, and cities looking to build their program and restore native growth.  The Iowa Living Roadway Trust Fund is a division of the DOT that works to help with funding, research, education, etc of the program.

This process usually involves research to find the right mix of native plants for your regions and then working to plant and grow these while preventing soil erosion into our water system.  This is usually accomplished with predrilling and seeding, followed by coverage and fertilization.  Some mowing and maintenance of noxious weeds still exists for safety and control.

Top-Spread helps in this program by providing a cost effective solution for road crews.  You are able to use a skid loader already on site and not bring another tractor and semi.  One person can easily cover 20 acres in 2 days by themselves in muddy conditions including retrieving bales from one location with a one speed skid loader.  It is becoming increasing difficult to find small squares and folks that are willing to handle them.  Utilizing large round or square bales with Top-Spread will save you time, labor, and money.

We are looking forward to attending the Iowa IRVM Conference this week in Coralville, Iowa.  We are excited to bring more knowledge for our customers and show folks how Top-Spread is assisting in returning Iowa's green space to native plantings.

Want to catch live updates from the conference?  Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Waiting until fall is too late!

Good News, Better Problems

This summer, we were expecting to build up inventory for the fall.  However, we were pleasantly surprised when we found a new group of people that Top-Spread benefits.  Top-Spread works great for erosion control on construction sites for buildings and roadways as well as around oil wells.  This means we don't have the opportunity to build as many extra models.  This is a great problem for us to encounter, we get to help more folks!

Order Now, Pick Delivery Date

We are now in the midst of our new Fall Preordering Program.  This will ensure you have your Top-Spread delivered this fall when you want it.  The process is simple.

1. Talk with Steve or Emily at Top-Notch Machine to find the model that best fits your needs.

2. Provide a small down payment and pick your delivery date.

3. In the fall, have your Top-Spread delivered to your operation and pay the remaining balance.

Simple, Right?  This way you have your Top-Spread when you want it for the heavy bedding season without having to pay for the whole machine up-front.

Filling Up Fast

Our September and October delivery dates are filling up fast.  If you would like to have your Top-Spread delivered during these months, orders need to be placed ASAP.  We still have quite a few openings for August, November, and December.  We are working to ensure our customers are completely satisfied.  This means providing an opportunity for a low up-front cost option to secure your bale spreader without having to sit out wait times in the fall.

UPDATE:  We are about 3 weeks out on production.

Currently, we are able to deliver in stock models and have short wait times on other orders up until the fall.

Be sure to connect with us on social media with any questions or give us a call! (641) 228-1101.

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Are you interested in learning about the benefits of Top-Spread bale spreader?  Download our free ebook to see if your chores can be made easier!


Monday, September 14, 2015

5 Tips for Healthy Calves

There are many ways to set yourself up for success in your cow/calf operation. 
Here are 5 Tips for raising healthy newborn calves.

1.  Spread New Bedding Between Calves

Replacing bedding between delivering new calves is essential.  Giving each new calf a dry bed is a key to prevent sickness.  This is easily measured by kneeling down in the bedding.  If you acquire wetness on your knees, the bedding is too wet and needs to be replaced.

2.  Use Top-Spread to Create a Fluffy Bed for Newborns

Spreading bedding by hand creates clumps of frozen and wet material.  Using a bale processor disperses the material to create a dry, warm environment.  You want to spread enough bedding that allows calves to snuggle in and cover their hooves when they are standing.  This protects them from the cooling temperatures of fall and freezing temperatures of winter.  Ventilation is extremely important when creating this environment.  Fans will decrease calf panting and stress in the heated environment.

3.  Use Equipment to Remove Bedding

Removing soiled bedding by hand leads to transferred bacteria and should be avoided.  It is important to remove soiled bedding between calves to prevent the transfer of bacteria.  Leaving soiled material in the pen increases the changes for infection and calf diarrhea.  It is important to start fresh with each calf in a dry, clean, and warm environment.

4.  Keep Mothers Clean

The obvious action is to clean the mother's teat before nursing to prevent transfer of any built up bacteria.  It is also important to clean the whole body of the mother if she will be in the pen with the calf, so as she will not soil the fresh bedding or affect the new calf when nuzzling.

5.  Separate Calves From Each Other

Grouping new calves together increases risk for spreading illness among your population.  You gather many young ones in a heated space with increased waste production and you create a breeding ground for germs.  Be sure to separate them and regularly maintain their living space whether that is a heated pen in your barn, or huts on a hillside.


Proper calf care starts you on the right path for producing quality livestock and saves you money avoiding sickness and calf loss.

Want more tips like these?  Download Top-Notch Machine's FREE ebook:

How to Save Money with Cattle Bedding

Do you have a calf bedding story?  We'd love to hear about it! 
Comment below or connect with us on Social Media.
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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Best Value for Cow Bedding

Prices Drive many decisions in farming.

The world sees us as a commodity, meaning one ton of straw is the same as the next.  Farmers usually don't agree with this, working year-round to produce the best product available.  This doesn't change the fact that most farm inputs and outputs are market priced, including organic bedding material.

Organic bedding material price differs throughout the year just like any other commodity where the market determines the price at any given moment.  This is based on consumer demand and available supply.  During the winter months, these products are not grown and farmers need the material so prices are higher.  Prices are lower in the summer months when bales are easily found and there is not as much demand.

Average Price of the most commonly used material.

Wheat Straw: $112
Corn Stalks: $63
Oat Straw: $54

As you can see, price varies greatly between material types.  They range from over $100 to just over $50 per ton of material.  The largest discrepancy in price comes from transportation costs.  Wheat is primarily found out west and shipped to the Midwest, whereas cornstalks are found locally.

Wheat straw is a much softer material to use for calf pens, but is more expensive and doesn't absorb material as well.  Corn stalks are tougher, but they are much cheaper and more absorbent than wheat straw.

It basically comes down to your priorities.  If soft bedding for your calves is necessary, paying 40 more dollars per ton may be worth it.  If you need absorbency and an economical option, corn stalks are for you.

Both are easily processed in a Top-Spread bale spreader.  There are models for round or square bales to meet your needs.  Choose your bedding and your Top-Spread model to start making the best choices for your livestock.


Download your FREE copy of Save Money with Cattle Bedding
for more information about different types of bedding material.


Check out our website to view Top-Spread model options today.
Be sure to connect and chat with us on Social Media.  We like seeing your livestock pictures!

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Friday, September 4, 2015

3 Tips for Silage Packing

By now, most are starting to chop silage.  As we are looking to store this crop, there are a few important things to keep in mind when you are packing silage.

1.  Add Water to Silage

Silage that is too dry will decrease your capacity for storage as well as not ferment as properly.  Silage should average 30-35% dry matter or 65-70% moisture.  Silage that is too dry needs to have water added.  This should be done during the layering process to permeate through the silage and not create runoff.  As a general guideline, you should add four gallons of water per ton of silage for each percentage increase of desired moisture content.  This will eliminate fluffy air pockets in your silage storage for better processing.

2.  Compact

To establish as few air bubbles as possible, it is important to compact your silage in during the process.  High speed silo blowers are efficient, but add unnecessary air especially to the outer ring of material.  This creates poor fermentation.  Distributors should be utilized in these silos for better compaction and higher capacity levels.  If using a bunker or trench type system, constant compaction while filling is essential.  You should be mounding the silage so rain water will drain off.

3.  Air Tight Seal

To ferment properly, having an airtight environment is essential.  The fermentation process begins when the oxygen is depleted.  Fermentation lowers the pH level to the point where no organism can function.  Bacteria consume the carbohydrates from the silage to function and excrete lactic acid.  Once the pH level has diminished, the fermentation process is complete.  Covering silage after the last load is critical in starting this process.  Weighing down a plastic tarp over bunk or trench system with old tires is a common way to accomplish this.  On silos, ensuring door seals are in working condition will eliminate excess air.  When fermented silage is exposed to oxygen, mold can form.  This type of normal mold will not harm your livestock, but you will se consumption rate decrease.


This is a dangerous process for a livestock operation.  It is important to provide adequate ventilation in chutes and non-filled spaces.  Staying out of the silo for the first 10 days is recommended.  Closing off doors to your barn will protect exposure to your livestock.  Check out this article from National Ag Safety for tips and information about silage safety.

Do you have more tips for silage packing?  Comment below, or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook!

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