Magic Mixer - the Penta TMR Mixer Wagon

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Drier weather and more demanding buyers – cattle feedlots are caught in a perfect storm. But Penta’s range of TMR feed mixers is helping to strike a balance

The Penta TMR mixer wagon at work
With the increase in effectiveness and efficiency in feeding animals, farmers have continued to use it even after drought has broken

Australian beef has a well-earned reputation for being a high quality product that is both safe and nutritious to eat – a trait that has made it one of the world’s top three beef exporters for the past seven decades.

But selling to developed markets comes with its own challenges – with buyers increasingly seeking out meat with specific traits – be they grassfed or grainfed, or raised with a particular eye to sustainability or animal welfare.

Faced with a more discerning market, cattle producers are turning to technology to get that extra edge over the competition, and Valton Feeding Solutions sales and service manager Leigh Byron says the technology has well and truly caught up.

"Some of the bigger feedlot companies are winning contracts because they have got that data to analyse, whereas someone who doesn’t have that data – they’re more likely to look past them now," he says.

"It’s just like anything now… the more information you have to make a business decision with, the easier it is to calculate and make the correct choice."

TECH CHALLENGE

Valton distributes the Penta range of feed mixer wagons in Australia, with 11 different products on offer – from the 6 cubic metre single auger 2030 through to the 47 cubic metre triple auger 1630.

All come equipped with the option of the TMR 4610 Feed Management Indicator, which lets the operator program rations from their computer, while also keeping feed changes up to date wirelessly.

All Pentas come standard with the EZ2810 scales, which include the exclusive rotation counter and timer to help control mixing and processing times along with Bluetooth capabilities.

A machine hour meter records total operating time, and can send service reminder messages, while a preset weight function improves loading and unloading and an alarm warns the operator when those target weights are met.

"For the Asian export market, they are demanding data be collected on how long the animal has been fed, exactly what it has been eating during that time or how big the pen sizes are," Byron says.

"These scales, you can program all of that in and record it each day. You can do that with Penta where with a lot of other mixer wagons you can’t, or they are not offering that option."

To help with this process, Valton has been working closely with precision measuring company Digi-Star, and its parent company TopCon, to develop upgrades that are not traditionally used with all brands of feed mixers, Byron says.

"Digistar TMR Tracker software and the correct indictors and hardware on the Penta mixers is allowing our customers to understand the dynamics of their business, anticipate market shifts and manage risks," he says, "rather than ‘going with gut’ when maintaining stock levels and calculating feed costs per animal."

Byron adds that these upgrades are now available straight away for all items in the Penta mixer wagon range straight off the shelf, whereas it used to be more difficult to get them.

"There is a lot more technology out there now. We are collecting a lot of data for our customers and then they are selling their business on that.  A lot of people do buy our products for that reason," he says.

WIDER MARKET

Byron adds that the market for total mixed ration (TMR) feed mixers is growing beyond the larger feedlots and dairies to smaller beef producers, who are considering the purchase in order to feed stock effectively.

"A lot of customers have said, we will use it until the drought breaks and then we will need you to sell it for us again," Byron says.

"But once they have gotten into the Penta mixer wagon system and are feeding their animals more effectively and efficiently, they have found that they continue to use it, even if the drought has broken."

That said, it won’t be essential for a smaller operator to buy the largest model on offer, with Byron saying that the mixing technique is consistent across the Penta range.

"You don’t need to spend the big dollars on a big machine to get a good result, it is just a bigger capacity, so if you are feeding more animals you can do it faster with a bigger machine," Byron says.

The single auger Penta 3030SD TMR mixer wagon is one of the models leading this charge.

With a 10 cubic metre capacity and a 40cm hay extension, the 3030 is able to operate with 70 horsepower (52kW), the unit is 2.5m high, 2.3m wide and weighs 3.5 tonnes empty.

The unit comes equipped with Penta’s Hurricane auger, designed to allow hay to circulate faster through the mix, resulting in quicker processing and mixing times.

The augers are equipped with patented cut outs that allow material to drop through the auger – complementing the regular motion of the ingredients being rotated throughout the tub.

Its pyramid shape reduces pressure on the system’s moving parts, prolonging the life of the blades, while ensuring maximum blade contact with the raw materials being missed.

The high-wear stainless steel lead edge on the sweep has virtually no gap at the floor, dramatically reducing the required horsepower, while a bolt-on stainless steel plough blade keeps material from building up on the sides.

In addition to this, Penta’s straight-walled tub design helps reduce feed compaction and minimises over-processing by allowing more room for the material to aerate.

Byron says close to 50 per cent of company business is in Queensland, but Valton’s national network of independent service agents means that customers are rarely waiting for long in case of a breakdown.

"A lot of our customers like knowing there is someone local there who has had the training on that machine, so if something goes wrong they can give us a call and we are then within 24 hours," he says.

To find out more about the Penta range, contact Valton Feeding Solutions at www.valtonfeedingsolutions.com.au

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