Ger Murphy, Fennor, Co. Waterford, runs a busy dairy farm with a herd of high-yielding Holsteins. The 130ac farm is predominantly grassland, with a small amount of whole crop barley sown this year. All heifers are contract-reared.

Feeding is carried out 365 days per year, without any in-parlour feeding. Cows are out on grass for approximately 300 days per year and only housed between early November, going back onto grass in the first week of January.

Ger’s current milk yield is 30L with 4.1% butterfat and 3.7% protein (2.41kg of milk solids), achieving approximately 600kg of milk solids annually.

Milking cows receive a 7.5 kg total mixed ration (TMR) ration consisting of beet, potatoes and maize silage, with added soya hulls and barley, plus 0.6 kg of straw. Due to a lack of rain recently, the mix is currently topped up with a protein blend.

The farm is located near the sea and has light soil, receiving little rain — 14 weeks without rain is not unheard of, and the farm is working under drought conditions every year. During this time, approximately 50% of dry matter (DM) intake is through buffer feeding.

A KEENAN user for the last 30 years, Ger acquired his third KEENAN machine in October 2020, after upgrading from his 8m³ Klassik 80, to a bigger, 12 m³ KEENAN Approved MechFiber300.

According to Ger, he “didn’t even consider another make as [they were] happy with the KEENAN feeders [they] had.” He cited mix quality, reliability and service back-up as the main reasons for staying loyal to the farm machinery manufacturer.

Doing the research

Ger started looking online for second-hand diet feeders before opting to buy direct from the company.

“Machines from other sources were too expensive considering that these came with no warranty and didn’t offer a guaranteed service back-up,” Ger explained.

KEENAN Approved-used diet feeders are guaranteed a three-month manufacturer’s warranty (with an extended six-month warranty for Approved-used machines bought at this year’s mid-season sale) and service back-up is available through the established service network.

KEENAN Approved-used diet feeders are quality selected, fully refurbished machines. These feeders undergo detailed reconditioning in the KEENAN factory in Borris, Co. Carlow, where they are shot-blasted, painted and fitted with new heavy-duty top knives and body blades, paddle rubbers and seals.

Put through a rigorous testing process, all Approved-used machines must pass a 60-point machine inspection checklist to qualify. Along with the extended six-month warranty on offer during this year’s mid-season sale, farmers buying an Approved-used or new KEENAN diet feeder will also receive a voucher for a free service and an additional 10% discount on parts purchased on the day of the service.

Ger bought his machine from the KEENAN sale catalogue without looking at it in person and had not seen a KEENAN Approved-used machine before. He is really pleased with the quality of the machine and remarked on the meticulous paint job — this is an important factor for him as the farm is near the sea and the higher salt content is hard on any paint.

Rather coincidentally, before Ger took delivery of his Approved MechFiber300, his old Klassik machine broke down. KEENAN gave him a second-hand diet feeder on loan to ensure continuous feeding of his herd until the ordered machine arrived. “You couldn’t ask for more,” remarked Ger.

Comparing benefits

Compared to his old machine, Ger noticed that the mix quality improved when using the Approved-used MechFiber machine. The benefits of this included:

  • Improved straw incorporation in all mixes;
  • Minimised sorting by cows due to complete and consistent mixing, meaning every cow gets their allocation of straw, aiding digestion and benefitting health;
  • Improved manure consistency; no loose dung, even with fresh milkers;
  • Increased hoof health;
  • A 10% increase in milk yield compared to 2019.

Ger aims to achieve 1,500kg of milk solids per hectare (current performance accomplishing 1,400 kg milk solids) — an undertaking well on its way with the support of his KEENAN Approved MechFiber300 machine.

KEENAN mid-season sale 2021

A selection of KEENAN Approved diet feeders can be seen at this year’s mid-season sale of Approved-used and second-hand diet feeders, with prices starting from €45 per week. Machines can be viewed virtually by visiting the mid-season sale page and downloading a catalogue.

To arrange a viewing appointment at the KEENAN factory in Borris, Co. Carlow between June 9–15, please phone (059) 977 1200 to pre-book.

This event at the KEENAN factory is followed by a Northern Ireland mid-season sale, June 16–17, at Dungannon Livestock Mart, Co. Tyrone.