Keenan Systems is selling between 300 and 400 feeder wagons per year in France, according to François Derot, the man heading up the company’s presence in that country.

“We have 4,500 customers in total, of which 1,300 use our ‘Pace’ technology,” he said.

“The demand is for machines with capacities in the range 16 to 20 cubic metres. I know these are slightly larger models than would be the norm in Ireland. However, French farmers tend to mix feed once per day only: hence the need for machinery with a slightly larger mixing capability.”

Derot pointed out that customers using the Pace technology have 24:7, on-line access to Keenan’s new In Touch centre in Brittany.

“New diet formulations can be uploaded directly on to each feeder using the latest IT technology,” he said.

“This is a two-way process. Farmers, for example, can communicate their latest silage analysis results with our team of nutritionists in Brittany. They can then tweak the required ration formulations accordingly. Again, this information is uploaded directly onto the computer system that is linked to the farmer’s feeder.”

Keenan also has a seven-strong team of nutritionists on the ground in France. According to Derot, the French milk sector is predicted to expand output by 10% over the next five years.

“For the most part, this will depend on the management strategies implemented by the various dairies,” he said.

“Some have already told their farmer suppliers that they do not want extra milk, once quotas are abolished: others are considering a degree of expansion, possibly up to 20% over the coming years.

“French milk producers enjoyed a very rewarding year in 2014, but most are losing money at the present time. The breakeven milk price in France is 32c/L. Most buyers paid 29c/L this month.”