Gordon Mitchell, Carlisle

The ability of the Shelbourne Powermix Pro to produce a good accurate, quality mix was not in question, for one Cumbria dairy farmer – it was the feed out elevator that was the real attraction. For Gordon Mitchell it was the feed out elevator on the Shelbourne Reynolds Powermix Pro 16m that clinched the deal, he insists. "I had no doubt that the mixer could cope with work we wanted it to do but it was essential it could deliver the feed into our trough feeding system," he says. "And that required an elevator." Based at Ranghton Head, Dalston, Carlisle, Mr Mitchell and his brother farm about 1200 acres which is spread between two farms. The main enterprise on both farms is milk production with one herd numbering 200 cows and the other 280 cows.

 

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Mr Mitchell with the Powermix Pro 16m

"We run the two herds independently although, when it comes to silage making, we join forces," explains Mr Mitchell. "In total we make about 600 acres of grass silage and a further 30 acres of maize. I also have a contracting business that sees our self-propelled forage harvester in action for quite a few more acres during the year."  At Mirkbooths, where the larger herd is run, the twin auger, 16m Powermix Pro has been in use for the last 18 months having replaced a Kverneland mixer wagon. Used daily throughout the year, it is responsible for assembling not only the cows’ feed but also that of all the young stock and followers that are kept on the farm. "It’s kept pretty busy and there isn’t a day during the winter when it isn’t asked to put at least five loads together, and during the summer when the cows are out it is still mixing at least a couple of loads," he says.

 

The cows are used to produce both beef and dairy replacement calves in a ratio of about 40% dairy, 60% beef. And it would really help if we could forecast whether they are going to be bull or heifer calves." The diets have, as their main ingredient grass silage to which maize silage is added along with bought in feeds such as brewers’ grains and rape meal. It takes about five minutes to put a load together, he says. "The augers work very efficiently to produce a well mixed feed that retains a good fibrous nature – and the weight display system ensures we put the right amounts in." With the elevator capable of feeding both to the left and to the right – the whole unit can be shifted hydraulically in the required direction – feed out is also a relatively speedy affair.

 

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Powermix Pro 16m

"Bearing in mind it is a two auger machine with quite a length, it is quite surprising how manoeuvrable it is around the yards," he says. "This is helped, no doubt, by having a tandem axle with a rear axle that steers."

 

Mr Mitchell does offer a word of warning though. He points out that, on wet slippy surfaces – where the yard scraper has been working, for example - the rear steering does not operate as well because it depends on the tyre gripping the surface to twist it round as turns are made.

"This can make a difference how the machine is towed around a corner and you need to be aware that it can handle the same corner in different ways, depending on conditions."

However, the twin axle design is considered to be an essential asset in the load carrying department – several of the passage ways which need to be driven along with full loads are slatted and would clearly suffer if a single axle machine was to be used. The cows are fed for about 25 litres and then fed concentrate in the 20 x 20 herringbone parlour to bring intake up to milk yield. Herd average is just over 8000 litres. The vast majority of the cows are house in cubicles a small proportion housed in a straw yard. An all year round calving policy means that at any one time there are about 40 dry cows waiting to calve and these are fed a slightly higher fibre diet than the cows.

In the 18 months the Powermix Pro has been on the farm there have not been any mechanical problems to report. As part of the warranty deal taken by Mr Mitchell, he was required to have the mixer serviced by his dealer and he believes it to be a sound idea. "It’s good to operate a machine you have the confidence in to know it is going to perform as and when you want it to," he says. "The mixer wagon is an essential machine for us and Shelbourne appears to have got the job about right."

Gordon Mitchell, "There isn’t a day during the winter when the mixer wagon isn’t asked to put at least five loads together, and during the summer when the cows are out it is still mixing at least a couple of loads."

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