Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review

By: Tom Dickson


Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review
Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review
Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review
Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review
Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review
Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review Duncan Ag Multi Plus Feeder review

Aussie reporter Tom Dickson trialled Duncan Ag’s latest piece of equipment: the Multi-Plus feeder.

The Duncan brand started as WR Clough and Sons in 1937 with a line of rugged swamp ploughs designed by its Manawatu, New Zealand-based founder, blacksmith Bill Clough.

The company has continued making tough, indispensable farm machinery ever since. Duncan Ag produces equipment that is now sold worldwide but remains 100 percent made in New Zealand.

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.

These feeders will be ideally suited to operations that ration out between four to 12 bales per feed.

This would represent one or two loads. 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’m going to check out a four bale Multi-Plus for a test run to see how it performs.

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 4800kg or seven to 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.

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.

Multi Plus Feeder5

AMBIDEXTROUS

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.

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 two-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.

I’ve been thrown the keys to a brand new Fendt for today’s test, which is a bit of unexpected luxury, but I’m certainly not complaining.

It only takes a few minutes to hitch it because there are only two sets of hydraulic hoses to attach. I’m not sure what the minimum requirements are for tractor oil flow to run the hydraulics but I would think 80 or 90L/m would be ample. Just keep in mind if you intend loading it right up you’re going to need a tractor that can safely handle the weight.

The standard multi-feeder would have three sets but 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.

The Multi-Plus feeder is not self-loading like the little one and two bale feeders so you do require a second tractor to load up but that’s the case for all wagon style feeders. Throw in a couple of round bales of hay and we’re ready to feed a mob of hungry ewes.

PROBLEM SOLVING

At this point I think I’ll 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. The elevator chain rotates faster than the floor chain so as to tease out the feed more effectively. There is a sequencing valve on the floor chain so you can speed up or slow down the floor chain in relation to the elevator chain for optimum feed out flow.

The pusher hydraulics and the elevator angle ram are run through the diverter and will not operate correctly, and in fact 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.

When you’re out on the farm miles from the workshop there’s a certain sense of achievement when you get a failing machine to keep operating until you can limp home and fix it properly.

Multi Plus Feeder6

NO NEED TO TEASE

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.

EASY CARE

It looks very much like a piece of machinery 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. A quick grease every now and then and replace worn bushes will satisfy the servicing requirements. There’s nothing that stands out as a possible weak point so under normal working conditions I can’t see this machine falling to pieces.

The verdict

I realise including my gut feeling on whatever it is I’m reviewing can’t be measured and there is no way of proving its accuracy. But I have found that such intuition has served me well over the years. Some may call it our sixth sense. We all have it but most of the time ignore the signals we receive and end up thinking: I knew I shouldn’t have done that, or I knew I should have checked.

Well, my gut feeling on the Duncan Multi-Plus feeder 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 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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • Hydraulic diverter

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