In Jenkins’ case, that second life for conveyor belting is working out just fine. He bought around 8,000 ft. of 5-ft.-wide belting. He cuts it into 100-ft. strips and puts a 3- to 4-in. hole about a foot back from the edge and reinforces it with a strip of metal about a foot long, to keep the log chain from eventually tearing the hole out. Then, when he’s rotating pastures, he just hooks the chain to his pickup and drags it to the next pasture.

Jenkins feeds the DDGs with a live-bottom protein wagon. “We could do it with a caker or any kind of system, but basically we can run right over the top with this protein wagon and it conveys the distillers onto the middle of the conveyor belt,” he says.

Jenkins had been using the conveyor belt system for just a month or two when this was written, so he didn’t have any hard figures. “But it certainly seems we’ve cut our waste down considerably. It’s wide enough that it seems very little is getting off the edges.”

Jenkins figures he’ll spend between $125,000 and $175,000 for DDGs/ranch, depending on price and trucking costs. “Even if we save 10-15% of what we’re feeding, and I think it’s quite a bit more, we could easily save $25,000 for about an $8,000 investment,” he says.

Feedyard fix

Monty Wheeler was another producer with a problem. Right there underfoot.

Actually, it was under the feet of the cattle that clatter across the scales at Tejas Feeders, east of Pampa, TX. When things got wet, the cattle tended to slip.

Wheeler came across repurposedMATERIALS and found his solution – the treads from two-piece mining tires.

“We saw those and wondered if that would work in an alley or on the scales.” Wheeler thought he’d give them a try, figuring that if they didn’t work on the scales, he’d use them where they push cattle into the processing barn or other places in the alley where it gets slick.

At 45 in. wide, they fit perfectly when laid three across on his scales. “We’ve weighed a lot of cattle. You can see the difference. It’s quiet, it’s comfortable. The cattle get traction, they’re not slipping when they come off the scales.”

One potential problem will be when the feedyard has to certify its scales. “If there’s any adjustment that needs to be made, we’ll have to take it up so we can get into the manhole.” But that’s not a problem, he says. “They’re just laid there. They’re so heavy that they’re not going anyplace.” The feedyard used a Bobcat to lay the treads down and can easily pick them up the same way.

Wheeler still has five or six of the treads left, and plans to use them in his processing barn and in high-traffic areas in his alleys. However, Carson says when his supply is gone, it’s gone. “Unfortunately, this is not a recurring waste stream because Goodyear quit making them.”

But the remainder of the waste stream of America is in no danger of running dry. And Carson’s website at repurposed
materialsinc.com can attest to that. It’s an online flea market of old materials that might include billboard vinyls, wine barrels, climbing ropes, old fire hoses, highway snow fencing, cargo parachutes, whatever he’s collected at the time. Much of it doesn’t have an obvious use but Carson says he’ll keep listening to his customers for new ways to use old stuff.

And, as they have for generations, farmers and ranchers will lead the way in repurposing.