The Steele family purchased a dairy farm in Kircubbin on Strangford Lough in 1980. Today William’s two sons – Samuel and Thomas have joined the team of what must be one of the showcase dairy farms in Northern Ireland. The brothers together farm just over 650 acres and milk around 500 cows, with William still taking a very active role.
I was anxious to see the farm and to talk to the owners about their new Strautmann Verti-Mix 3101D Diet Feeder.
For those who have never been up in the Ards Peninsula area of Ireland- it lies just south east of Belfast— with Bangor at the northern side. Steele Bros’ Rowreagh Farm is well laid out with acres of concrete to keep the whole operation clean. Large silage pits surround the huge sheds where contented looking Friesians chew the cud.
I spoke to Samuel and asked him why he purchased his new Strautmann Feeder.
“We had a Strautmann 2400 for the past seven years” said Samuel. “We called to our local dealer, Henry Porter to renew the knives, and we began to look at the bigger machine. We work our feeder seven days a week and 365 days per year, so we were never going to change from the Strautmann, as we never had a stop or machine failure during all that time. The herd size had grown and we had taken on additional land so it made sense to change to a bigger capacity machine”
“This Strautmann Verti-Mix 3101D holds 25 cu meters in standard format, and is just 3.2 meters high (10ft 6ins). It’s also possible to extend the hopper on the new machine, to give additional capacity by
adding either a 180 mm (28 cu.m.) or 360 mm extension (31 cu.m.).” We knew what we wanted and Strautmann had the answers to suit our set up.
We fitted discharges on both left and right front with
an 880 mm elevator on the front right corner.”
The machine has a tandem axle fitted with hydraulic brakes, with the rear axle steerable – on big 435/50R19 tyres. The level of equipment is high with a good wide angle shaft fitted and of course electric controls for easy adjustment. The weighing device fitted is the Digi-Star EZ2500V with six weighing cells.
“The basic machine has a two speed gearbox for ease at start up and we fitted a magnetic metal devise to ensure no foreign bodies ended up in the mix” said Samuel.
“Feeding takes between an hour and one and a half hours every day, with some of the high yielders being fed twice – we really need to get on with it as 500 cows do require careful management”.
“We currently employ six family members to run the operation with some additional part time staff added in busy times. We grow some of our own feed with just under 200 acres of cereals – barley, wheat and maize. We have just added a relatively new fodder for us in Lucerne—a good high protein crop. We contract in all the harvesting of the crops but do all our own tedding.” I asked Samuel if they used round bales. “We do occasionally use round bales. Last year maybe around 200 – the wagon with its two big augers cuts and mixes these very well with the other ingredients. The Strautmann does a really nice fast job of mixing and incorporating all the components.”
Samuel and Thomas had just hosted an open farm morning for some eighty interested dairy farmers, but the work never stops. I left these two young men to get on with their chores and prepare for the next cycle of milking.
On my way out the overall tidiness of the farm was striking with all machinery nicely housed until it was needed.