Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon review

By: Mark Fouhy


Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon
Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon
Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon
Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon
Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon
Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon
Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon

Mark Fouhy recently caught up with Jon and the lads from Keenan NZ to test a new Keenan Mech Fibre 370 mixer wagon that is currently being used on a milking goat farm at Rotorangi, near Cambridge in the Waikato.

While the last two Keenan mixer wagons I have tested were both on goat farms (a small growth industry within New Zealand’s farming industry), these goat farms have proved to be a good test of the quality of the mix produced as goats tend to be 100 times fussier about their food compared with dairy cows. The bulk of the Keenan machines in New Zealand are still being used on cow farms, with a few on beef breeding/fattening properties too. There is also certainly potential for Keenan wagons in the small but growing sheep milking industry.

The test

The day I tested the Mech Fibre 370, Keenan NZ was holding an open day at Alistair Kirkby’s dairy goat farm. Having owned an older model Keenan, Kirkby was aware of the benefits of the green machines, but his new Mech Fibre 370 has surpassed all his expectations with some great results within the first 12 months.

Features such as the new pace monitor and the INTouch centre, plus the fine tuning of the diet/nutritional advice have all contributed to these results. In basic numbers, Kirkby is on track to finish the season about 25 percent ahead of last year, which most farmers would be pretty happy with. If you take an even closer look at the details, the results are even more impressive given this year he has a younger herd which produce less milk.

As Keenan proudly boasts, those who purchase a Keenan machine can often pay it off within the first 12 months of ownership provided they are using the Keenan system which efficiently converts feed inputs into saleable product.

Operation

The operation of these mixer wagons is pretty straightforward. The PTO is 540 with the tractor revving around 17-1800rpm (pretty low) which is good for fuel consumption. The straight drive keeps the overall horsepower requirement down, with no gearboxes to go through taking extra power to drive. Three double-acting hydraulic hoses are required: the first for the lid on top, the second for feed arm, and the third for the door to allow mixing into the feed auger.

The Keenan guys talk about the mix being like making a cake, I tend to think of it more like mixing concrete, but pretty much the same concept – adding too much of one component can upset the end result. The pace monitor keeps track of revolutions to avoid under- or over-mixing and minimises variations in the mixes between different operators. I really like the idea of the magnets on the feedout arm to catch any steel shrapnel, which prevents animals ingesting it.

Fibre _370_3

Servicing

If you own a grease gun, you can complete daily and/or weekly servicing yourself. Keenan machines have no gear box oils to check or change. A direct drive from the tractor PTO drives the chain driven six paddle cutting mixer and also the feed auger which runs the length of the machine to give a pretty good clean-out of total feed mix. Jon and the team are also available for any major repairs and servicing.

The pace monitor not only counts the revolutions the mixer has done, but lets you know when it is due for a service. The fact that there haven’t been a lot of changes to the Keenan machine is testament in itself to its design and reliability and the reason why it is worthwhile refurbishing them.

Mixes

The Keenan mixer wagons are capable of mixing and feeding most feed types, including fodder beet which has been a more recent addition in terms of feeds available to farmers. With the six-paddle and knife system, the Keenan wagons can effectively cut the large beet bulbs for easier digestion.

To get the best out of the machine, the Keenan diets mostly include some straw or hay for adding in rumen function, which I believe is one of the keys to achieving feed conversion efficiencies. Aside from that you can feed pretty much whatever you like and Seamus can work out the amounts for each feed type to balance the diet. The pace connect monitor stores the mixes for each herd of animals, with amounts able to be varied if mob size changes through an app on your smartphone (when used with the full pace connect system).

To ensure correct mixing, a sensor is fitted to the drive for the mixer to count revolutions which count down on the monitor, and for tractors fitted with an electronic PTO, an auto-stop is fitted to stop the PTO at this point. This is to provide consistency of mix/feeding on a daily basis. All feed has some cost attached to it, so using the right amounts of each is important to avoid wastage and over or under feeding of different components of the diet.

The verdict

Mixer wagons are not going to be the right machine for every farm. For those looking to maximise the utilisation of feed inputs, Jon can supply you with the right-sized machine to fit your requirements and ensure you achieve your desired gains. There are pluses and minuses when it comes to putting all your eggs in one basket; however, with the right product, you can become a specialist in this given field, rather than a jack of all trades.

The huge benefit of having a Keenan machine is that Jon and the Keenan NZ team are able to offer a complete nutritional service, while remaining independent of feed companies with sales targets to reach, along with top notch servicing and parts backup long after the initial deal has been done.

Pros

  • Straightforward well-built machine.
  • Low hp requirement saving dollars on diesel every day.
  • A passionate Keenan support team that want you to succeed.
  • Magnets on feed tray to prevent foreign metal objects landing in the mix.

Cons

  • The feed arm is on the left, but a right-hand option is available.

Read the full test in the latest issue of Farm Trader magazine. Subscribe here.

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