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Saturday 3 December 2016

Pics: How to whip your diet feeder into shape

Now is the time to take a look over your diet feeder to assess what it needs to get it ready for a busy winter

Derek Casey

Published 22/10/2016 | 09:30

Make sure your feeder is good enough to make it through another season.
Make sure your feeder is good enough to make it through another season.

Winter is fast approaching and now is the time to get the diet feeder set up for a busy few months ahead. Take a look over your machine before winter feeding starts in earnest.

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Is it good enough to last another season? If so, are the basics covered in terms of maintenance to help prevent costly breakdowns?

A word on safety from the outset; before carrying out any checks or work on your feeder, ensure it is parked on a hard, level surface. Stop the tractor and keep the key in your own pocket so that no one else can start it.

The feeder I picked here is a Keenan paddle type machine, but the maintenance tips outlined will apply to most brands of feeder. The cost of some of the main replacement items are included to help budget for a service if necessary. Remember to contact your dealer if at any point you need assistance or think the machine needs specialist attention.

The weigh box is the brains of the operation. If this isn’t working it is costing you hundreds of Euro over a season in inaccurate feed measurements. Consequently, it needs to be protected carefully during the down season. The weigh box should be removed from the feeder when not in use and stored indoors.
The weigh box is the brains of the operation. If this isn’t working it is costing you hundreds of Euro over a season in inaccurate feed measurements. Consequently, it needs to be protected carefully during the down season. The weigh box should be removed from the feeder when not in use and stored indoors.
After unplugging the wires from the weigh box a layer of Vaseline around the plugs will prevent moisture getting in. They should also be taped up for the same reason.
After unplugging the wires from the weigh box a layer of Vaseline around the plugs will prevent moisture getting in. They should also be taped up for the same reason.

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There are a few crucial bearings to keep an eye on in a Keenan feeder. This is the main mixing rotor bearing. If it is on the wane you will probably hear it, smell it or see smoke coming from it in a bad case. It should be greased once a week. Watch not to damage it by reversing into something, a common mistake in these feeders.
There are a few crucial bearings to keep an eye on in a Keenan feeder. This is the main mixing rotor bearing. If it is on the wane you will probably hear it, smell it or see smoke coming from it in a bad case. It should be greased once a week. Watch not to damage it by reversing into something, a common mistake in these feeders.
Farmers often neglect rims and tyres because they assume all that can go wrong here is a puncture. Wheel nuts need to be checked every few days to ensure they are tight. Those who do a lot of road travel between farms have to be extra careful.
Farmers often neglect rims and tyres because they assume all that can go wrong here is a puncture. Wheel nuts need to be checked every few days to ensure they are tight. Those who do a lot of road travel between farms have to be extra careful.
This is the main rotor bearing housing cover, found at the back of the feeder. It is often the first part of the machine to get damaged when a farmer backs into something by accident. On newer Keenan feeders, or for those who avail of the Keenan upgrade to older machines, an extended bumper bar eliminates this problem by taking the brunt of any such collisions. Costs €250 to fit.
This is the main rotor bearing housing cover, found at the back of the feeder. It is often the first part of the machine to get damaged when a farmer backs into something by accident. On newer Keenan feeders, or for those who avail of the Keenan upgrade to older machines, an extended bumper bar eliminates this problem by taking the brunt of any such collisions. Costs €250 to fit.
The bale chopper knife on this machine has seen better days and needs replacing. If it wasn’t replaced a tightly packed round bale loaded into the feeder would take too long to be chopped properly and drag feeding time out unnecessarily. A heavy duty knife on a Keenan K140 model costs €680 including VAT.
The bale chopper knife on this machine has seen better days and needs replacing. If it wasn’t replaced a tightly packed round bale loaded into the feeder would take too long to be chopped properly and drag feeding time out unnecessarily. A heavy duty knife on a Keenan K140 model costs €680 including VAT.
The body of a Keenan feeder should last for about 6,000 feeds before it is worn. This is the equivalent of 16 years (two feeds per day for six months per year), but that can vary depending on the type of feed ingredients mixed, herd size etc. Keep an eye on the rubbers too (seen on top right of this picture).
The body of a Keenan feeder should last for about 6,000 feeds before it is worn. This is the equivalent of 16 years (two feeds per day for six months per year), but that can vary depending on the type of feed ingredients mixed, herd size etc. Keep an eye on the rubbers too (seen on top right of this picture).
Lights are really crucial for safely getting about during winter and they should be constantly checked to ensure they are working and clear of mud. For those feeding on an out farm, a simple thing like an indicator bulb blowing could end in disaster in a road accident. Make it a daily check.
Lights are really crucial for safely getting about during winter and they should be constantly checked to ensure they are working and clear of mud. For those feeding on an out farm, a simple thing like an indicator bulb blowing could end in disaster in a road accident. Make it a daily check.
This picture compares a new knife with one that certainly doesn’t owe its owner anything. These are bolted into the body of the wagon from the outside and make a huge difference to the efficiency of the mixing process when they are sharp and new. You shouldn’t try and sharpen these yourself with an angle grinder; when they are worn they simply need replacing. Knives should be replaced after about 1,000 mixes.
This picture compares a new knife with one that certainly doesn’t owe its owner anything. These are bolted into the body of the wagon from the outside and make a huge difference to the efficiency of the mixing process when they are sharp and new. You shouldn’t try and sharpen these yourself with an angle grinder; when they are worn they simply need replacing. Knives should be replaced after about 1,000 mixes.
It’s fairly easy to check the tension of the drive chains to see if they are getting loose or worn. Normally, a chain shouldn’t have more than an inch play in it, so if you can move it further than this it could be getting worn. A replacement drive chain (smaller one) costs €220 while the secondary (bigger) chain costs €460, both including VAT.
It’s fairly easy to check the tension of the drive chains to see if they are getting loose or worn. Normally, a chain shouldn’t have more than an inch play in it, so if you can move it further than this it could be getting worn. A replacement drive chain (smaller one) costs €220 while the secondary (bigger) chain costs €460, both including VAT.
This hitch is in good condition, but it is something worth keeping an eye on from a safety perspective. If you do a lot of road work and tow heavy mixes a few kilometres each day the hitch can wear surprisingly quickly.
This hitch is in good condition, but it is something worth keeping an eye on from a safety perspective. If you do a lot of road work and tow heavy mixes a few kilometres each day the hitch can wear surprisingly quickly.
Magnets on the feed-out door are a handy innovation for catching any undesirables like bolts or sheared knives before they get near cattle. For older feeders this is available as an upgrade option and costs €350 including VAT.
Magnets on the feed-out door are a handy innovation for catching any undesirables like bolts or sheared knives before they get near cattle. For older feeders this is available as an upgrade option and costs €350 including VAT.
At the front of the machine, don’t take any chances with the PTO shaft. Is the cover up to scratch? Replace a worn cover and make sure it is tied and not spinning freely. Winter time is a lethal time for farm accidents, and the diet feeder is responsible for more than its fair share of limb-related trauma and/or fatalities.
At the front of the machine, don’t take any chances with the PTO shaft. Is the cover up to scratch? Replace a worn cover and make sure it is tied and not spinning freely. Winter time is a lethal time for farm accidents, and the diet feeder is responsible for more than its fair share of limb-related trauma and/or fatalities.

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