Barrel, paddle, auger – still feeder trinity
By Andrew Faulkner
A BARREL, a mixing paddle and a discharge auger – Richard Keenans "keep it simple" feeder policy is the same today as it was when its first commercial machine was built back in 1983.
Admittedly, there have been variations on the Keenan Easi-feeder theme over the past 14 years, but nothing too radical. And the same paddle/auger principle is retained for the Irish firms latest mixer wagon development, the five-model FP (Farm-feed Processor) line-up.
From the outside, the FP looks little different to the standard Keenan feeder. The big change is within the barrel where a series of blades now enables the green wagon to handle big bales of silage, hay and straw.
"In the past, the feeder has had three main functions: Pre-mixing, feeding out the main ration and grain processing," says Philip Hainey, Richard Keenans marketing director.
"Now it can also be used to chop silage and hay, chop straw for incorporation in a soda grain mix, and as a root crop washer and slicer."
To cope with what are obviously tougher tasks, Keenan has redesigned and beefed up the basic machine in several key areas: Paddle legs increase in size to 25mm (1in) thickness and come with stretched supporting struts and heavier rubber sweeper flaps; the rotor is of a wider cross-section and gets upgraded front bearings; and there is a barrel extension at the top of the machine.
Main change, though, is the addition of two types of cutting blade – a full length knife bolted to the barrels top edge and a series of smaller blades staggered along its base. Staggering the blades reduces mixing/chopping power requirement, which is claimed to be no more than 5-10% up on the standard machine.
In work, the two blade types complement each other. The top knife gives an initial cutting action as, say, a round bale is lowered into the machine, while the base blades control final chop length. Minimum chop is 30-40mm (1-1.5in), which Keenan says is needed to maintain the fibres "scratch factor" in the rumen, and chop time for one big bale is 10-15min.
With its capability to perform a wider range of tasks, Keenan expects the FP to gradually become its standard machine. Price premium over the conventional Easi-feeder is about 10-15%, and there are already 30 test machines at work in the UK (300 worldwide).
Precision chop silage from a round bale. The bladed Keenan FP mixer wagon is designed to give a 30-40mm chop length silage after a mixing time of 10-15min. Inset: FP detail includes black hopper extension, full length knife along the top edge, and a series of chopper blades in the barrels belly.
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