In a recent story, we focused on Cnossen Holsteins to learn how their KEENAN mixer helps them save time. The Cnossen family moved from Holland in 2000 and bought a dairy farm outside of Elora. This past summer, the family built and opened a brand new, 44,000 square foot milking facility. The 6-row perimeter barn currently houses 145 cows and features 4 Lely Astronaut milking robots.
We visited them on a chilly December day to talk about their operation and the role automation plays on the farm. The focus of our visit was their KEENAN MechFiber 380 mixer that ensures the perfect TMR mix for their cows every time. Even though the farm and family were busy with holiday preparations, Harry and his dad, Rudy, were happy to take some time to talk.
Harry was loading the mixer for feeding when we arrived. The bale he dropped in was chopped, mixed and ready to feed within minutes. He stepped down from the tractor, walked toward the barn and held a hand to his ear; ‘You can hear the tractor doesn’t even work to mix that all up’, Harry said, smiling. This observation highlights the fact Keenan mixers don’t require large tractors with high horsepower to operate.
We followed him into the barn and met Rudy in the barn’s office. Through the windows, we could see the results of that Keenan mixer – rows of happy cows munching perfect rations. Rudy told us a bit about how the operation was going. Since opening the new barn mid-summer and working through some challenges, production is reaching expected levels, he reported. He casually mentioned 40+ litre averages and then smiled a bit, indicating he was quite pleased with the results. We took a quick walk around the barn checking the feed mix and talking about how a Keenan helps all this happen. ‘See the cows just eat what’s right in front of them, no sorting – just eating.’ Harry grabbed a handful of feed from the pile and sorted it through his fingers. A quick shaker box check confirmed what he was saying. You can see the results in the mix.
It was time for lunch of our own and we headed to the restaurant in town. On the way, he continued explaining how automation on the farm allowed him this free time on a Tuesday afternoon. I took some time over lunch to ask him a few questions.
What made you decide on the Keenan mixer for your farm?
Harry: I decided on the KEENAN 320 MechFiber originally with the side feeder. Its low operating cost and side feeder seemed to be perfect for the size of our herd at the time. When we expanded, I traded in for the MechFiber 380 because it could handle more at a time and had the rear discharge. The barn was built to handle the larger machine but it’s still easy to maneuver around. I really chose the Keenan because of its consistency making feed. It seems like no matter what I pour into it, the feed comes out consistent. The BaleBlend is nice because I can drop a lot into the top of the machine and it just does the work. That’s what I find is one of the most important things; consistency in the feed.
Do you find any surprise advantages using a Keenan mixer?
Harry: The biggest advantage I find is how much fuel cost we save. You noticed when I dropped that bale into the mixer, the tractor barely worked any harder. It only takes about 120 horsepower to run the mixer – almost nothing. Previously I had a vertical mixer system and it took 200+ horsepower to run. After upgrading to the Keenan horizontal mixer, I’m able to use my smaller tractor and save over half in my annual fuel costs.
How does the Keenan system help you save time?
Harry: The Keenan mixer is fast. I can drop the mix in the top and by the time I get in the tractor cab its ready to pull away and feed. With the free time and flexibility I have, I can have an extended lunch or enjoy time with my family in the afternoon.
With that, he reminded us his wife was heading out Christmas shopping and he needed to get back to the house. We thanked him for his insight and for talking with us about how Keenan helps on the farm.
Shortly after this interview, the Cnossens, along with Ontario Harvestore, held a FREE Open House event to talk more about the Keenan line of mixer equipment. This event filled up quickly and everyone in attendance agreed it was a great learning experience. Watch our website for more events like this in the future.