REVIEW: Keenan Mech-Fibre 340 mixer wagon

By: Mark Fouhy, Photography by: Mark Fouhy

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KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 magnets mettalic arms 1722 Magnets on the feeding arm catch metallic objects, preventing them from ending up in the animals mixed ration. KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 magnets mettalic arms 1722
KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 chain driven system 1741 Chain-driven system keeps horsepower requirements down. KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 chain driven system 1741
KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 in barn 1738 Happy customers with their Keenan mixed ration. KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 in barn 1738
KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 Keenan NZ team 1745 Morrinsville Keenan New Zealand team, from left, CJ Collingwood, S�amus Callanan, Jon and Bernice Kimber, and Tracey Butler. KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 Keenan NZ team 1745
KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 Keenan PACE monitor 1724 The brains behind the Mech-fiber wagon: Keenan PACE Monitor. KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 Keenan PACE monitor 1724
KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 PTO Autostop 1725 New PTO Autostop function prevents over or under mixing. KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 PTO Autostop 1725
KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 tines 1737 Improved bale handler tines process both round and square bales quickly and efficiently. KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 tines 1737
KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 visibility side mirrors 1730 Good visibility from the side mirrors. KEENAN MECH FIBER 340 visibility side mirrors 1730

As world population grows, farming systems change and develop to feed this growing demand. New Zealand reporter MARK FOUHY checked out the latest smarts of the Keenan Mech-fibre 340 mixer wagon.

Farmland is in limited supply and growing in value, with farmers looking to produce more from less. Irish manufacturer Keenan has been manufacturing its unique horizontal mixer wagons since 1983 to achieve just that.

Based on decades of research the Keenan Mech-fiber system was developed as an integrated feeding method combining the iKeenan mixer wagon, innovative management protocols and nutritionist expertise.

A recent research study on 1,086 dairy farms shows after using the Keenan Mech-fiber system for one year milk production increased by 1.74kg per cow per day from 0.64kg less feed. This is worth the same as an additional 3c per litre of milk.

The Keenan system is based on high feed conversion efficiency and producing a consistent mix day after day.

In Australia, Keenan’s distributor Norwood Agriculture currently operates agricultural dealerships under the Norwood Farm Machinery Centre name at Swan Hill, Wodonga in Victoria and Wagga Wagga in New South Wales and there are also Godings branded dealerships at Whittlesea, Rockbank and Mansfield in Victoria.

I caught up with the Keenan NZ team at a farm day they were holding on Greg and Lisa Balme’s property at Tahuna.

 

The test

Until last year, the Balmes ran a drystock fattening operation. This season they have converted a portion of their property to supply feed for a milking goat herd, presently milking 650 to 670 with plans to increase to 1,000 milkers.

Having talked with other goat farmers, they opted to purchase a Keenan Mech-fiber 340 in early September on the back of support and service from the Keenan team.

Initially the Balmes had does peaking and kidding out of season followed by a slow decline. But within a very short time of mixing the goats’ feed through the Keenan wagon, production increased and surpassed its earlier level.

Given the cost associated with setting up the required infrastructure to get into the goat farming industry, the Balmes say the extra 20 per cent production produced from the same feed inputs certainly helps in the initial and subsequent seasons.

Similar gains can be possible with cow systems, depending on the situation. The Mech-fiber 340 has a load capacity of 6,000kg.

The Balmes are currently feeding their goats one mix a day of a variety of feeds including maize, molasses, straw and baleage with a total mix weight around 2,000kg.

The 340 model will handle a mix to feed up to about 1,000 goats, or 300 to 500 cows depending on feed inputs.

 

Machine operation and maintenance

KEENAN MECH-FIBER 340 _magnets Mettalic Arms _1722

With no gearboxes, a power take-off (PTO) chain drive system operates both the mixing paddles and feed auger, without the need for extra side feed conveyors.

A 90hp (67kW) tractor is sufficient to operate the Mech-fiber 340. The PTO speed required is 540, 1,500rpm which keeps daily running (diesel) costs down.

This is also to help achieve the desired mix consistency. Keenan mixers aim to blend ingredients without destroying the feed products.

Three double acting hydraulic valves are required to operate the Keenan wagon’s roof, feed door and feeding arm, which is fitted with magnets to catch any hardware that may be hiding in the mixed feed; a smart idea.

Although you don’t need to get in there so regularly now, new fibreglass front covers have been added to Mech-fiber wagons, with a visible chain tension gauge and an automatic chain oiler as a standard specification next to the iKeenan monitor.

A bank of grease nipples on the left show the amount of grease required.

The Keenan Mech-fiber Mixers also come with steering axles as a standard specification (from the MF 360 up to the MF 400).

Keeping the knives sharp, being mindful about overloading and operating at the correct speed will help keep your machine running day after day.

 

Adding the mix

Keenan -Mech -fibre -340-mixer -wagon -review

Mech-fiber wagons can work with pretty much any animal feed supplement you can throw at them. The iKeenan monitors fitted to these machines are no longer just a cumulative weigh scale unit.

Different mixes can be loaded (e.g. weaners or milkers), but loading order is important to achieve the correct combination.

The iKeenan monitor breaks down the weight of each component to be added. This is helpful in making sure expensive feed concentrates make up the correct quantity of the daily mix.

Another feature to achieve the desired feed mix is the Autostop for the PTO. This works using a counter on the centre mixing shaft.

It counts down until the correct number of revolutions has been completed, then then disengages the PTO on the tractor. This takes the guesswork out, and any variation between operators.

The iKeenan monitor is connected to the cloud via the strongest mobile network coverage available. This sends feed information directly to the InTouch centre in Ireland, which is also available to your own nutritionist to monitor.

To get the best out of the system, there needs to be good farmer input/data such as daily production, what the animals physically look like etc.

Although this service is included for the first 12 months of owning a Keenan mixer, there is an annual fee between $1,000 and $5,000 depending on the level of monitoring you require.

 

Verdict

Now into Series III, the Mech-fiber wagons have come a long way.

One of its major issues, the speed at which they process square and round bales, has now been overcome, mostly due to the re-designed bale handler tines and top knives.

The new iKeenan monitor and cloud system used on the Mech-fiber wagons are making the most of technology available to help farmers produce more for less.

Goat farmers throughout the Waikato such as the Balmes are adopting the Keenan system operating their Mech-fiber wagon with great results.

Hits

  • Keenan iKeenan connect monitor weigh scales, and PTO Autostop ensures correct inputs and consistency, taking the guess work out of daily mixing
  • Nutritional advice included with new Keenan mixer wagons will help maximise feed conversion efficiency — up to 10 per cent
  • New bale handler tines allow much faster processing of bales of all consistencies.
  • Change of feed auger position has given a deeper body with greater capacity and stability in similar footprint to the smaller 320 4T model

Misses

  • Feed out only left-hand side of the wagon, fewer moving parts to worry about.  However, Keenan can now offer a right-hand feed-out option if needed and this has just become available to the New Zealand market in the past 12 months
  • Like anything you need the right size machine for the job, an overloaded machine will not produce the correct mix/feed to achieve greatest gains.

Keenan mixer wagons for sale

 

For the full report, pick up a copy of New Farm Machinery magazine issue 26, on-sale September 14.

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