Based near Tramore in Co Waterford, Paul Power runs a beef finishing and tillage enterprise alongside a small contracting business. Finishing up to 150 cattle each year, Paul acquired his first diet feeder in 2015, a Strautmann 1250.
After this, Paul had his sights set on purchasing a straw blower. Up to then he was bedding the sheds by physically shaking out straw. He said this was dangerous as he had to go in among the cattle as there was no holding area they could be kept in. He had some close calls with animals getting excited, so he decided that this practice could not continue. In addition, he heard from other farmers that a straw blower would help reduce straw usage.
While looking into various straw blower brands, Paul came across the concept of a two-in-one straw blower and diet feeder unit. This appealed to him, as he didn’t want the hassle of having to run two machines. Two brands caught his eye – the German Strautmann and the Dutch Trioliet. From here, Paul arranged demonstrations with both manufacturers.
He said: “Both machines had their advantages and disadvantages. I felt the Strautmann produced a better mix and was faster in doing so. However, the Trioliet straw blower was ahead of the Strautmann as it could swivel, whereas Strautmann machine only had a height adjustable chute. In saying this, a stationary straw blower would work fine for my shed layout and the mixing element was still the most important factor for me. The Trioliet machine also chopped the straw more finely, something I wanted to avoid if possible.
“Suir Garages Ltd are the local Strautmann dealer. They were willing to offer me a better deal for my trade-in so I opted to buy the Strautmann.”
Paul took delivery of his new Strautmann Verti mix 1451 last autumn. This 13.5m3 capacity feeder without any extensions is a single-auger machine. Paul uses his ProDig shear bucket on the front of his Massey Ferguson 6715 to pick up round bales, remove the net and place the straw into the tub.
He said: “I put two round bales of straw into the machine. The feeder mixes and chops it up a little, thus breaking up the bale before it’s blown into the shed.”
This straw blower unit is an optional extra on all Verti mix models. While the diet feeder has list price of €33,000 plus VAT, the straw blowing unit costs an additional €18,000 plus VAT, giving a total price of €51,000 plus VAT. The vario mixing auger chops up the straw. A door is opened that allows the auger feed the straw towards a feed roller with teeth which pulls it in before the flywheel blows it out.
Strautmann claims the hydraulically driven straw blower throws the straw up to a distance of 15m into the feeding area. Paul thought this might be an issue, as he needed the machine to blow straw up to 60ft to suit some of his sheds. However, he noted that as long as the straw wasn’t brittle, the machine was capable of reaching this height.
He added: “A feature I like about having the two machines in one is that if there’s a stone in the tub, I can hear it banging when the auger is rotating. I can then open the side discharge door by around 3-4in and it will fall out one side of the flap. This reduces the chances of a stone flying out through the straw blower.”
When using the straw blower, a door opens and allows the auger to feed the straw towards a feed roller with teeth which pulls it in before the flywheel blows it out.
Paul also explained that by using a straw blower, he has reduced straw usage from 10 bales per week to seven bales. In addition to this 30% saving on straw, Paul reckons the straw blower has reduced the labour requirement by around 50%. He also noted that because the straw is broken up, when it comes to spreading, the dung it is more consistent.
Although the straw blowing unit on Paul’s machine is stationary and only the chute is height adjustable, the latest model now has the spout mounted on a ring gear. This gives it the ability to swivel/rotate up to 270° by means of hydraulic motor. Strautmann claims the blower can blow up to 20m to the right and 15m to the left.
Paul said he has used 30% less straw and reduced labour by 50% thanks to the straw blower.
Alongside feeding cattle, Paul uses the diet feeder to mix the straights such as homegrown barley, minerals, maize, distillers, and beet pulp. This is mixed once per week and stored in a shed.
Paul’s machine has two discharge doors. One thing he noted that he likes is the consistency of how the auger empties the machine when feeding. He believes this is due to the fact that the doors are on the curved surface, allowing the mix flow out naturally.
The machine has Strautmann’s new Vario2 auger. The flights on the auger are now stepped. The firm claims the new auger design reduces mixing time, helping save on labour and fuel. The auger is driven by a gearbox that sits underneath. It’s equipped with a large pair of tapered roller bearings, double sealing and a large grease chamber. At the bottom of the auger is a secondary scraper arm that helps distribute the feed.
The feeder has two manually adjustable counter-cutters that can be engaged if mixing long-fibre fodder such as round bales. Paul’s machine is controlled through an electrical control unit. He likes the control box, stating that it’s fairly simple and easy to use.
This Strautmann Verti mix 1451 with straw blower has a 13.5m3 capacity feeder without any extensions and is a single-auger machine.
Overall, Paul said he’s happy with the machine. He has been impressed with its build quality and its ability to deal with heavy bales of silage. He also noted that the low power requirement and is quite compact. He claims that by the time he has finished loading the mix into the diet feeder and gets out of the loader tractor, the mix is almost ready for feeding straight away.
The one thing he would have liked in his machine is a more versatile chute on the straw blowing unit. The fact that the unit can’t rotate can limit the machine’s ability in certain situations. But overall, he’s happy that he opted for a two-in-one machine over running two individual machines.
Model: Verti mix 1,451
Capacity: 13.5m3 without extensions
Auger: single auger
Gross weight: 11,400kg
Price: €51,000 plus VAT