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Tuesday 23 October 2018

Aussie invention promises to 'revolutionise' supplementary feeding

Kathryn Kenneally of Dairy Direct and Tommy Egan from Ballykeeffe, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Roger Jones
Kathryn Kenneally of Dairy Direct and Tommy Egan from Ballykeeffe, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Roger Jones
The Advantage Feeder

An innovative Aussie approach to livestock feeding is beginning to take hold in Ireland thanks to the efforts of Kilkenny-based distributors Dairy Direct.

The novel feeding mechanism uses the animal’s saliva producing capacity to control overall feed intakes.

In essence, the 3in1 Advantage Feeder adopts a ‘little and often’ approach to the animal feeding process.

“This feeder system revolutionises supplementary feeding. It forces the animal to work a little harder in order to lick out the feed, using up its saliva production in the process. As the animal’s mouth dries up it loses interest in feed and returns to graze,” Kathryn Kenneally of Dairy Direct explained.

“The stock graze for up to two hours between visits to the feeder to allow the natural saliva glands to build back up, thus visiting the feeder approximately 12 times in 24 hours,” Ms Kenneally added.

Stainless steel components within the feeder determine the amount of feed that is accessed and consumed. The feeder holds all types of ration from wholegrain, to a coarse ration or pellet. 

“In five minutes of licking, with the feeder set at the most restricted setting, cattle access about 150gr of feed and sheep access about 20gr of grain,” Ms Kenneally pointed out.

The feeder was invented by Gerard Roney, a young Australian engineering student who was looking at a way of feeding his sheep while he was away at college.

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The system has proven a hit with Irish livestock farmers, with Dairy Direct reporting strong farmer interest.

Kilkenny dairy and beef farmer Tommy Egan is using the 1800HD model feeder, which holds up to one tonne of concentrate, to feed his 76 calves. The calves are being fed 1kg of calf nuts per day. “The big advantage for me is the labour-saving element, I can fill my feeder once a week, and then I only have to check on the stock rather than feeding daily,” he said.

The feeders come in different hopper sizes. These vary from 350kg for the sheep feeder, to 500kg for the smallest cattle unit, and up to 4t for the biggest model. Prices range from €1,200 for the 500kg model, to €3,750 for the 4t feeder.

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