For dairy farmers in the market for a self-propelled diet feeder the options are rapidly increasing this year, with a second manufacturer launching a new, high-capacity machine.
Following close on the heels of Strautmann, Keenan is the latest to join the party.
The Altech-owned firm has teamed up with Italian manufacturer Storti, which builds the chassis, running gear and loading arm for the new machine, so all that’s left for the Irish manufacturer to do is bolt its Mechfibre mixing barrel on the rear.
Storti has used its own mechanical transmission which the designers claim can reduce fuel consumption by up to 25% by directing the full available power to the mixer.
A hydrostatic motor gives the operator inch-by-inch control when loading at the clamp and feeding out in the shed.
The engine is a four-cylinder, 4.5-litre Iveco FPT lump offering 170hp, together with an AdBlue tank to help make it Stage IV emissions compliant.
Oil changes are less frequent due to the mechanical system, with 1,000-hours easily achievable.
Hydro-pneumatic suspension is only on the front wheels for a smoother ride, while a 40kph top speed is available in the Plus models and all specs get stability control as standard.
Available in 16cu m and 20cu m, the Mechfibre system is from Keenan’s trailed mixers and offers discharge from either side, while weigh cells are standard on both models, too.
The loading arm can reach a height of 4.5m and descends when the operator moves the proportional joystick in the cab. The spinning reel has 84 blades; 42 straight and 42 curved.
For longer material such as hay, the reel spins in the opposite direction – similar to a forager pick up reel – flicking the material over rather than under to prevent the longer fibres getting jammed underneath.
The clamp face is left solid once the self-propelled has had its fill, but being able to work across a whole clamp face in a couple of days means there is less time for mould to grow.
That means that good quality silage is being mixed with some that isn’t quite perfect, for a more consistent ration, says the company.
As with most self-propelled mixers on the market, the cab is compact and visibility is similar to a telehandler. There are minimal mod-cons, with air-con and a pneumatic seat on the options list.
All functions for the tub are housed in the Intouch box. From here, the operator can change mixing speed, weights of fodder and ingredients.
The NIR sensors on the reel monitor the material as its dropped onto the conveyor, changing the weight depending on the dry matter.
All the information is linked to a cloud-based system, which arranges the data into graphs to show how a kilo of feed converts into a litre of milk.
Instead of a solid lump of grab-material being tipped in the top, the arm neatly nibbles away as it slides down the clamp face.
The loose material is flung onto the central conveyor and hurled across the full length of the tub, and any loose silage that has fallen to the floor is cleared up at the end.
Due to the material being loose, mixing time is drastically reduced, which should on fuel and speed up the feeding process.
In fact, Keenan reckons the loading, mixing and discharging job for an 80-cow herd can be done in just 18 minutes.
Users of existing Keenan trailed mixers won’t have any surprises to find the oil-immersed chain drive to the rear with a six-paddle system including fixed knives and a full-length discharge auger.
There is also a central greasing point, so no rolling around to find those pesky nipples.
Currently there isn’t a four-wheel steer option and with a machine length including the head of 9.6m, manoeuvrability could be a problem on smaller dairy farms.
Keenan has sold two machines in the UK both to 250-cow herds. Realistically, with a £169,000 price tag, not every dairy will be getting the chequebook out, but Keenan is still confident it can convince many farmers to make the switch to a self-propelled outfit.