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Cow Know-How Guides Inventor
Cow sense goes into the livestock equipment Kelly Melius builds on his Faulk County farm.
Melius began tinkering when he returned from a three-year stint as an electrician in Minneapolis. He and his father ran a feedlot when he noticed a problem. “I hated the round ringed bale feeders, because the calves were always climbing inside,” he says. He sought help from friend Bill Keldsen, who had welding experience, and in 1999 they designed a new bale feeder that elevates the hay so calves can get underneath.
Keldsen died the next year, but Melius continued their work and created Common Sense Manufacturing. He’s expanded to include feed bunks and a hydraulic wire winder. Melius does business within 500 miles of Faulkton, but he ships the wire winder across the country.
Another popular product is his redesigned calf shelter. “Calves don’t like to go to the back of a structure,” he says. “They feel like they might get trapped. And the mothers don’t like them to get too far away.” So he created a narrower shelter with a door on the side and a skylight. Calves don’t feel trapped and mothers can keep an eye on their babies.
Farm experience makes his products better. “I’m a cow guy,” he says. “I built this stuff that I know works for my own cows. I’ve got several products that I’ve never released because they don’t work.”
That makes sense.
Editor’s Note: This story is revised from the May/June 2011 issue of South Dakota Magazine. To order a copy or to subscribe, call 800-456-5117.