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Self-propelled diet feeding saves time and money

Opico has added Strautmann selfpropelled diet feeders to its range, available with single and twin auger mixers and capacities up to 20m³.

outer face is exposed to the greatest wear,” explained David. “Replacing only this outer section is much cheaper than a complete auger. It’s a relatively new option but customers are choosing it partly because it will help protect future resale values, reducing ownership costs.”

Feed up to 350 cattle per hour

Diet feeders have become the norm for cattle feeding, combining efficiency and accuracy unmatched by alternative systems for most farms. Recent years have seen the introduction of selfpropelled versions offering even greater work-rates. David Williams has been trying out the newest to arrive in the UK. Diet feeders offer advantages for dairy farms of all sizes. Even smaller units benefit from time savings, and improved milk quality and yields through accurate ration composition and thorough mixing. But allocating a tractor for up to 45 minutes while each load is mixed and then for time to feed is expensive in capital, maintenance and fuel, and trailed versions usually also require an additional machine for loading. Self-propelled and self-loading diet feeders remain a relatively new concept in the UK, for many appearing a luxury, but Strautmann importer for the UK Opico suggests otherwise. “Just a few decades ago self-propelled sprayers entered the market and few thought they would catch on, as mounted and trailed sprayers were the norm,” explained managing director James Woolway. “But as larger farms invested in the new technology, benefits became clear and now they are a common sight on farms of all sizes. Livestock

are fed every day and herds don’t have to be huge for a self-propelled feeder to make sense, freeing up a tractor and loader and saving time and fuel.” Opico became the Strautmann importer early in 2016, initially concentrating on the company’s long-established range of trailed feeders and forage loader wagons. “It was always the intention to import self-propelled feeders too,” said Opico Strautmann service manager David Mein. “It’s a specialist market which requires product expertise and top levels of back-up and we wanted to make sure we had everything in place to guarantee this before establishing the product on UK farms.” Strautmann has offered selfpropelled models for 20 years with most demand initially from eastern Germany where large dairy units are common. The company enjoys a 45 per cent market share and 95 per cent of sales are replacements to existing customers. Two models are offered,

with a wide range of specification options allowing bespoke configuration. Both incorporate vertical mixer bodies and milling cutters to load direct from the silage clamp.

The larger Verti-Mix SF diet feeder is available in single-auger 11, 13 and 15m³, and double-auger 14, 17 and 20m³, versions. The milling head is similar to that of the Sherpa, but has a larger diameter for higher feed rates and reaches to 5.1m. Sensors monitor loading performance and head travel speed is automatically controlled. SF models offer more feeding options than the Sherpa, including front and rear cross conveyors, rear opening doors or a combination of doors and front conveyor. Elevator continued over...

Manoeuvrable The base Sherpa version is compact and ideal for smaller yards. It is available with 12 and 14m³ single auger mixers and the 12m³ version is only 2.54m high. It has rear wheel steering providing a tight 1.43m inside turning radius, making it ideal for traditional livestock buildings. Power is from a Perkins 4-cyl engine with up to 144hp and distributed through three separate oil circuits to drive the transmission, loader and mixer drum. The central-mounted pick-up head is 2.0m wide and reaches to 4.3m. Silage is transferred to the mixer by a 0.565m rubber conveyor. Feed can be discharged at the right-hand front and left hand rear, with one discharge gate standard equipment.

The milling head has 60 angled blades, designed to extract forage from the clamp face and propel it on to the transfer elevator. An option is 54 additional straight knives for extra shredding.

Class-leading performance

One operator with a 20m³ machine can load, mix and feed 2–2.5 loads per hour, enough for 280–350 cattle. This farm visited in northern Germany uses a Strautmann 2001 SF model working an average 6hrs per day, to feed 1,600 cows.

Strautmann has developed a stepped auger, standard across its range, which improves mixing performance, reducing ration preparation time. Creating an uneven flow as material travels up the spiral generates a tumbling effect, incorporating concentrates and other nutrients faster. Claimed performance improvement includes power and fuel savings of eight per cent. The augers can be specified with replaceable stainless steel wearing faces for a longer working life. “The

pq The milling head efficiently loads from the clamp leaving a clean face, minimising forage contamination and waste.

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Farmers Guide June 2017  

Farmers Guide Magazine June 2017 Issue