Mean green feeding machine
UK’s profi magazine tests the recently introduced Bale Handler version of the Keenan Klassik mixing wagon
On the latest incarnation of Keenan feeders, now known as the Klassik, the Bale Handler development has introduced a new rotor. Launched at the Irish Ploughing Championships 2002, after 18 months’ development, the Bale Handler’s rotor now has six paddles in a "star" shape rather than a "cross", meaning no 90° corners to jam up/block. The six-paddle design comprises three angled paddles at front and rear, which cut against the floor-mounted knives to chop the material. This design spreads power requirement evenly and reduces the peak hp needed, reckons Keenan. The second part of the Bale Handler set-up is a cradle, onto which the silage bales are placed so that they do not drop straight down into the machine. The arrangement of steel tines lies up above the main paddle path, paddle action nudging the bale against a hydraulic creel or "lid" on the opposite side of the machine every time one "arm" makes contact with the silage.
This "nudge" causes the bale to lift and drop against a new serrated side knife to chop up a consistent portion of the bale. Keenan says this is the key to speeding up chopping and reducing peak hp requirements. As the bale rests on the cradle, the paddles tug and pull gradually at exposed bale surfaces with each revolution, slicing the silage against the knife, which runs the complete length of the mixer. The new knife effectively doubles the cutting area and efficiency, while the cradle is lowered for transport and feed-out to minimise machine height.
For loading silage, the tractor pto is engaged to start the mixer paddles rotating, the machine is set up to "chop", and a whole bale is then loaded onto the middle of the bale handling cradle, where the paddles lift and drop it against the top knife. For best mixing and cutting action, tractor pto speed should be set so that the rotor completes a revolution every eight seconds. As portions of the bale drop down into the mixing chamber, the material is further processed by the six paddles’ action against the barrel’s floor-mounted knives. A fixed clearance between paddles and knives prevents overprocessing to maintain and optimise feed structure of the ration.
The Bale Handler development is claimed to reduce overall power demand as well as process bales 40 percent faster than a conventional fourpaddle rotor machine. Keenan now puts minimum power requirement for the Bale Handler versions of the Klassik from 75hp. Overall power requirement during discharge is also reduced, while feed-out is quicker and more even. The overall result is a claimed 20 percent reduction in the total machine power requirement, as well as reduced time spent feeding and more cows fed per hour. The Klassik bale chamber has also been reshaped to a more tapered profile design to minimise external machine dimensions while, at the same time, maximising the paddle "reach" inside the mixing chamber to ensure that all feed is moved and mixed. Access to the chamber for cleaning and observing the mixing progress could be improved, as the existing step set-up is awkward to use, though admittedly it does allow the operator to see into the machine without encouraging a potentially lethal entry into the chamber. Overall effect of these developments is a more even load distribution on the mixer rotor, knives and paddles, with less material being cut by each pass of the paddle, and that reduced peak horsepower requirement when working with long baled silage.
Our test Klassik 140 Bale Handler was coupled to the front of a "mid" 110hp MF4270 tractor, which coped well with processing four bales for one load, although struggled slightly if revs were dropped too low. Keenan claims an average 15hp reduction in feeder power requirement over the equivalent-sized, non-Bale Handler Klassik model. A consistent chop length of 8-10cm is claimed for Bale Handler models, and we found this to be more or less accurate when examining our mixed load at feed-out.
Keenan states that the Bale Handler has been developed in response to an increasing number of farmers demanding a machine that can process baled silage. As well as round bales, the firm reckons the feeder can easily process square bales placed on its cradle, although we weren’t able to try this. Hardcentred and high dry matter bales are also reckoned to be no problem.
Keenan mixing wagons are available in New Zealand through Landpower, tel (03) 344 0100 or visit www.landpower.co.nz
Keenan Klassik 140 Bale Handler
Overall length: 6.06m
Mixing chamber length: 4.00m
Overall width: 2.75m
Mixing chamber width: 2.54m
Overall height: 2.60-3.00m
Mixing chamber height: 2.30-2.80m
Axle width: 2.1-2.3m
Feed-out type: Standard tray
Weight (unladen): 5600kg
Variable feed control: Standard
No. of weigh cells: 4
Electronic weighing: Standard, 5kg increment
Horsepower required: 85hp+