Over the past few years, some European manufacturers have established themselves in the North American market through a direct-from-the-factory retail sales model. Irish livestock feeding equipment manufacturer Keenan has recently joined those ranks. The company displayed one of its MechFiber line of feed processors at the Ag in Motion farm show near Saskatoon in July.
“We are selling them ourselves, and we have service agents in place in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta,” said Brayden Van Driesten, western Canadian sales manager for Keenan. “We have around 15 models. We also make custom-made models. Our MechFiber line is our newest.”
Van Driesten said he thinks the horizontal design of Keenan processors will appeal to Canadian producers because of the precision it offers in mixing and preparing rations. And that would be especially appealing to dairy and feedlot operators.
“We’re going to change the game of feeding, through the MechFiber concept,” he said confidently. “We have the system for dairies, when you drop a Keenan in you’re going to get more litres, more butterfat. We have a guarantee you’re going to get that.
“When you can chop all fibre to the same length, the cows sort less, eat less and gain more. If you drop hay into a vertical mixer, it just beats it up until it’s a pulp, you wouldn’t get even cuts.”
The MechFiber 380 model demonstrated at the Ag in Motion show is capable of blending silage, dry forage and grain into a single ration with adjustable forage cutting lengths.
“The difference is our mixer is a horizontal mixer,” he continued. “It can chop hay and fibre. We have stationary knives in the bottom of the mixer, so there are no dead spots. Compared to a vertical mixer that has dead spots where grain or pieces of hay can sit, we don’t have that. Everything is getting mixed.
The MF380 model demonstrated at the show holds bout 900 cubic feet.
“It’ll do around a 20,000-pound load of hay,” he continued. “You add your dry forage first, your hay and straw. You add your grains, then your silage.”
The Keenan uses a simplified drive system and does not have a gearbox on it, which reduces horsepower requirements. It has an oil bath system to lubricate chains and augers, and it is also equipped with a central grease lubrication system.
“We have our chains and drives staggered in the front of the machine,” said Van Driesten. “There is no gearbox on the machine at all. It only runs at 1,300 tractor (engine) r.p.m. PTO r.p.m. is only 400. So the tractor is just above idle. That saves you in fuel. For the largest machine we only need 115 horsepower to run the mixer. But you might need a weighted-up tractor to pull it.
“We have an unloading auger that is stretched across the whole machine. We’re pulling (feed) from the whole machine and sending it out. That’s where our consistency is way better than a vertical mixer. You’re not just pulling from one spot. The clean out is amazing. We have nothing really left in it at all.”
The MechFiber machines can be sold with the brand’s InTouch cloud-based digital system. It’s a feed management system that keeps track of every load and the ingredients used in the blend. It does that in real time.
“We have a phone app that lets you (remotely) watch people mix,” added Van Driesten. “And we have a team in Ireland that watch you mix, and they can notice if something is out of balance in the ration. When you buy, you have the option of buying the InTouch system.
Van Driesten says the system has been a cost saver for some customers.
“One of the guys that bought it found out he was overfeeding 50 to 70 kilograms a day,” he said. “When you overfeed that many kilograms every day, times 365, that’s a big number. Now he’s dropped that down to a tolerance of five or six with the InTouch system. It also keeps track of all your ingredients and keeps track of your feed inventory. You see all that data live (via a cloud server).
“Your nutritionist can log in and change your ration when you go into a different feed. You can upload hundreds of different rations if you’re in a feedlot situation.”
InTouch is available to purchasers on a subscription basis. MSRP for the family of Keenan MechFiber models runs from $25,000 to $95,000.