With 32 years’ experience in feeding and bedding, Teagle has expanded its range of Tomahawk straw processors with a new high capacity rotary mill. Richard Bradley reports.
Teagle’s 75 year history has predominately been made up of equipment for livestock farms, and its latest development is set to be the firm’s most sophisticated machine to date.
Sales director, Tom Teagle, says: “Livestock farmers are becoming ever more technical and discerning when it comes to feeding their animals, and while our current range of Tomahawk dual-chop bedders and mills provide the ability to bed loose-pens and chop straw for feeding, they are not suited to accurately processing large volumes of straw for inclusion in total mixed rations (TMR).”
Aiming to fill this gap, Teagle’s latest Tomahawk C12 Calibrator has been driven by demand from the UK, Germany, France and Eastern Europe, for a high-output machine which can consistently process straw bales to short chop lengths.
Teagle’s UK sales manager, Jim Squires, says: “While other machines are available, either they do not feature a sieve-like system as fitted on our machine or they are produced in North-America, and require costly adaptions to be homologated for our roads.”
Mr Squires adds many farmers use mixer wagons to process straw, which takes a long time to chop most of the straw, does not provide consistency in chop lengths and can cause excessive wear to the mixer’s knives and tub.
Following four years of development by a team of 15 engineers, the latest prototype Tomahawk C12 machines have undergone 18 months of on-farm testing.
Throughout this time, Teagle says it has worked with Three Counties Feeds nutritionist Andy Hawken, to ensure the machine is providing value to the end-user.
Test farmer Gavin Rodda says butterfats and overall herd health have seen big improvements since feeding chopped straw from Teagle's Tomahawk C12.
Mr Hawken says: “Cows require structural fibre in their diet to give rumen-fill, and accurately chopped straw is a quality source of this. To ensure cows do not sort and pick straw from a ration, it must be chopped to a similar length as any other fibre in the feed, such as silage.”
He adds any sorted material is a waste of costly feed, and is also likely to cause a reduction in yields, animal health, or both.
To find out more about the Tomahawk C12 Calibrator, we headed to a Cornish dairy farm, where the firm has been testing machines for the past 18-months.
In the past 18-months Cornish farmer Gavin Rodda, has been feeding chopped straw from a Calibrator to his 600 strong herd of young stock, dry and milking cows. Previously, Mr Rodda was chopping straw with his TMR mixer wagon, which has recently been re-lined due to excessive tub wear.
Mr Rodda says: “Previously we would clean feed troughs out daily, and infront of dry-cows 90 per cent of wastage would be long straw. Since chopping with Teagle’s machine, cows sort feed less meaning we have less waste.
“We have seen definite improvements in herd health across all groups, and also in milk quality where we have had big uplifts in butterfat, which has provided increased milk price. After testing the machine, I will use a contractor or look to find a group of local farmers to join together and share a machine as we would never go back to trying to process our straw with a mixer wagon.”
Where Teagle’s traditional Tomahawk mills are rear-loaded, the Calibrator’s lozenge-shaped tub can be loaded with round or square bales from the top. The firm says this allows larger volumes of straw to be loaded in a shorter space of time.
At the heart of the Calibrator is a rotating chopping mill, which uses 56 swinging hammer-flails to grab hold of the bale and pull in down through its sieve cutting section.
Each flail is made of boron steel and features a tungsten-carbide facing to increase service life. Thanks to two sets of mounting holes, the fails can be turned three-times to provide four cutting surfaces.
With a rotor speed of 2,000rpm, each flail has a tip speed of about 73 metres per second (160mph), which the firm says provides an aggressive cutting action against the two sieves.
Sieves can be easily removed and changed from ground level; the firm offers different sieve hole sizes to chop straw to lengths 20-100mm.
Teagle says as the sieves are split into two halves, fitting a larger diameter sieve on the second-half of chopping area reduces the machine’s power requirement and also increases throughput.
Driving the rotor requires a 1,000-speed pto from a 120-200hp tractor. Teagle says typical uses will find 160hp is sufficient, with up to 200hp to increase the machine’s output.
Ensuring the rotor is constantly fed with straw, the tub rotates via a hydraulic motor and chain drive system, with rotation speed set through the wireless control box. Thanks to a sensor on the chopping rotor, an automatic system can be used to slow/stop the tub if the rotor speed begins to drop, preventing excessive load on the tractor.
Allowing the chopped straw to be loaded into trailers up to 4.2m high, the Calibrator features a conveyor, which folds for transport. Drive to the tub and conveyor’s motors is provided by an on-board 150-litre hydraulic system which takes its drive from the tractor’s pto, and features an oil cooler with an electric reversing fan.
Folding and unfolding the conveyor requires two double-acting spools from the tractor.
Wireless connectivity means the Calibrator’s control box can be fitted in the loading machine, removing the need for an operator to stay in the tractor.
The box allows the operator to control tub rotation speed, stop or reverse the tub, and if required, set the sensitivity of the automatic tub control system, or disengage it altogether.
In case of emergency, a kill-switch is fitted to the machine to stop tub and conveyor drive.
For ease of maintenance, flails can be removed from the chopping rotor at ground level, and most greasing points are banked together in two locations. The hydraulic tank also features a sight glass level indicator.