REVIEW: Duncan Ag Multi-Plus bale feeder

By: Tom Dickson, Photography by: Andrew Britten, Video by: Andrew Britten

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New Zealand based Duncan Ag is a family owned business with a long history of innovation and quality. TOM DICKSON trialled the company’s latest piece of equipment the Multi-Plus bale feeder.

Destined to become very popular within the medium to large scale farming enterprises, the Duncan Multi-Plus feeder range offers four models of three, four, five or six bale capacity.

The Multi-Plus feeder is hydraulically driven and is suitable for feeding round or square bales of hay and silage as well as pit silage.

The large carrying capacity will speed up the time taken to feed out compared to single or double bale feeders while its simple but strong design is a much cheaper option than larger more complex forage wagons.

In my view, these feeders will be ideally suited to operations that ration out between four to 12 bales per feed. Any more than that and you’d have to start thinking a larger option may be the way to go.

For the purpose of reviewing the new feeders I am going to check out a four bale Multi-Plus for a test run to see how it performs.

 

Machine built

Duncan Ag Multi -Plus Feeder _8434

The main structure or chassis measures a total length of just less than 8.5m and is constructed from 200mm x 100mm x 5mm rectangular hollow section (RHS) frames. To this the smooth mild steel 3mm one-piece tub or monocoque body style is mounted.

The 400mm side extensions are attached to provide a bit of extra capacity. The front fixed headboard uses 3mm agrimesh in the top section just to give a bit of extra visibility into the tub.

The rear pushing board is of similar construction using 3mm steel on an RHS frame. It is dragged along the tub by a heavy duty 2-inch (2.54cm) pitch floor chain.

To smooth out the ride as much as possible the whole structure is mounted on a tandem walking balance beam axle assembly. This design effectively halves the effect any bumps and shocks have on the axle.

To further enhance the ride of the feeder and minimise messing up the paddocks in wet winter month’s floatation, 400/60x15.5, tyres are fitted.

 

Capacity

The Multi-Plus feeder is promoted as a four bale feeder but I can tell you it will take a much bigger load than that.

It’s true it only will fit four round bales with the dimensions of 1.2m wide by up to 1.8m in diameter or alternatively four square bales measuring 0.9m x 1.2m x 2.1m in length, but If you were feeding out pit silage you could get as much as 4,800kg or 7-12 cubic-metres in it and perhaps even more if you load it right up.

The 4B Plus feeder has even greater carrying capacity because it uses the optional 400mm side extensions. I reckon once you got used to operating it you could probably even stack square bales two high.

 

Hydraulic requirements

Duncan Ag Multi -Plus Feeder _hydraulic Ram _8459

To operate all the hydraulics on the 4B Multi-Plus feeder you will need a tractor that has three sets of remotes.

One to service the cross floor and elevator chain, a second for the rear pusher that brings the forage forward and the third to operate the hydraulic ram that alters the angle of the elevator.

If you only have two remote outlets on your tractor you can still operate the feeder by including the optional six port diverter.

The first set of tractor remotes continues to operate the cross floor and elevator chain but the second set plugs into the diverter, which is controlled by an electronic box with joystick controller mounted in the cabin. This directs oil flow to either the pusher or the elevator.

There is the option of an eight port diverter but it’s only required if the feeder needs an extra hydraulic function to run a grain bin or the tractor only has one available set of remotes.

The six and eight port diverters add about $1,400 or $1,900 respectively to the overall cost of the machine.

I’m not sure what the minimum requirements are for tractor oil flow to run the hydraulics but I would think 80 or 90 litres per minute would be ample. Just keep in mind that if you intend on loading it right up you are going to need a tractor that can safely handle the weight.

 

Feed-out

Duncan Ag Multi -Plus Feeder _feedout _8697

One of the key features of the 4B Plus feeder is its ability to feed a variety of feed types but also that it can feed out on the right- or left-hand side and if you lower the elevator down, feed can be dropped directly into feed troughs.

The elevator chain has spikes that tease out the hay and silage into a neat feed line on the right-hand side.

If the bales are too tightly compacted to feed out it’s just a matter of reversing the floor chain and directing the problem feed across to the left-hand mounted bale shredder.

 Apart from dealing with compacted forage the shredder acts as a left-hand side feed out option for all types of feed.

 

Performance

Because our Duncan rep James Murphy didn’t know what sort of tractor we would be using, he decided to fit the six port diverter to the feeder in case the tractor only had two sets of remotes.

At that point I thought I’d try each of the hydraulic functions just to get familiar before we start actually feeding. . The cross floor and elevator chain runs in conjunction from the first set of tractor remotes and work fine.

However, the pusher hydraulics and the elevator angle ram which are run through the diverter will not operate correctly and as soon as we trigger oil flow to either of the functions it pressurises the whole system and nothing will operate.

After about an hour of swapping hoses and remote connections and a lot of head scratching we discover one faulty solenoid on the six port diverter is causing the problem.

We don’t have a replacement but work out if we set the elevator angle to where we want it then don’t touch it we can actually feed out and see it working.

Finally we get out to the paddock and get the feeder performing. It does a really good job of metering out a neat windrow of hay. The round bale slowly tumbles while the elevator chain quickly flicks hay out the side.

At one point the bale becomes jammed on the teaser spikes at the top of the elevator and we realise the spikes should only be attached when feeding square bales.

The windrow is a bit too thick in the beginning, so we slow down the floor chain and fix the problem. When the floor chain clears the front section of hay it’s just a matter of operating the pusher to force another batch of hay into the front section.

There is no right or wrong way of setting it up just what suits your personal preference.

The core of the round bale is too dense to feed out on the elevator side so it’s just a matter of reversing the floor chain and the tightly compacted bale centre is directed to the left-hand side of the feeder where the rotating shredder chops it up and spits it out.

It is unfortunate that the hydraulics are not working correctly and we waste a bit of time on the spikes that perhaps should not have been fitted but I still come away thinking the Multi-Plus feeder has performed well.

If your tractor has three sets of remotes you could save a few bucks and leave off the optional diverter to avoid any potential failures on the farm.

 

Maintenance

It looks very much like a piece of machinery that anyone could look after. There are only a few grease points on the shafts of the elevator and floor chain and a couple up the back of the feeder on the guide wheels where the pusher chain travels around.

There are a couple of tensioning bolts here to tighten up the chain as required.

The pusher frame slides forwards and backwards along the full length of the tub on nylon bushes. So basically a quick grease every now and then and replace worn bushes will satisfy the servicing requirements.

There is nothing that stands out as a possible weak point so under normal working conditions I can’t see this machine falling to pieces in a hurry.

 

Verdict

My gut feeling on the Duncan Multi-Plus feeder is that at about $60,000 it is a very cost effective alternative to the more expensive feed out wagons. It looks to be well-built and operates very effectively.

My only concern is the electronics that control the hydraulic diverter but I get the sense that it was just a one-off problem with a solenoid and could be easily fixed.

If I was still on the farm and in the market for a mid-size feeder I would be quite confident purchasing one of these.

Hits:

  • Feeds baled hay, silage and pit silage
  • One piece smooth tub
  • Feeds out both sides and into troughs
  • Speed control on floor chain with sequencing valve                        
  • Tandem axle
  • 400mm side extensions

Misses:

  • Hydraulic diverter

 

Specifications

Make/model: Duncan Ag Multi-Plus 4B feeder

Capacity: 4,800kg

Cubic Capacity: 7-12m3

Dimensions: 8.45m L x 2.64m W

Overall Width with shredder: 2.94m

Axle: Tandem

Wheels: 400/60x15.5

Loading Height: 1.55m

 

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Find bale feeders for sale

Duncan Ag Multi Plus feeder 8434 The Multi-Plus feeder arrives ready for a day of testing at Garry Gebert’s property at Hamilton Victoria. Duncan Ag Multi Plus feeder 8434
Duncan Ag Multi Plus feeder feedout 8697 Forage can be pushed easily towards the feed out mechanism due to the smooth tub body design. Duncan Ag Multi Plus feeder feedout 8697
Duncan Ag Multi Plus feeder floatation tyres 8453 The tandem wheel walking beam axle design with floatation tyres helps carry the load on rough ground while at the same time reduces soil disturbance. Duncan Ag Multi Plus feeder floatation tyres 8453
Duncan Ag Multi Plus feeder hydraulic ram 8459 The optional elevator adjustment hydraulic ram replaces a manually adjustable turnbuckle. Duncan Ag Multi Plus feeder hydraulic ram 8459
Duncan Ag Multi Plus feeder shredder 8450 The shredder on the left-hand side is ideal for chopping up the hard core centres of high density bales. Duncan Ag Multi Plus feeder shredder 8450

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