Vertical Tub versus Paddle Mixers – Wesley Habershon (Chippenham) & Andrew Jones (Sherborne)

Choosing a Mixer wagon is a crucial decision for many dairy farmers. Uniformity and consistency are vital especially for high input farms. Whilst types of feed, forage type, forage chop length and flexibility all influence choice.

1. Vertical Tub mixer

Pros
• Handles and integrates bales well
• Chops fodder beet up more
• Chops longer chop better and suited to forage box silage
• Larger mix size
• Can chop straw reasonably well
• Clean neat cut where knives maintained well

Cons
• More chance of over mixing
• Does not mix quite as well
• Not good if gear box breaks
• Can chew up grass or forages easily and quickly
• More fuel and horsepower required
• May leak water (if mixed)

2. Paddle Mixers

Pros
• Simpler mechanically, no gearbox
• Mixes better, with tumbling action
• Cannot over mix
• Lower horsepower/fuel requirement
• No dead spots & watertight

Cons
• Does not handle bales very well at all
• Will not chop fodder beet
• Will not chop straw
• Struggles with wet heavy loads
• Design means vertical tub can hold bigger batch sizes than biggest paddle mixer

Wesley.
For me, the vertical tub mixer is the best option. It’s flexibility and chopping ability makes it excellent for utilising baled silage and chopping straw, particularly for dry cow diets. Economically a tub straw mixer is more efficient action of chopping straw, but it can be done in a vertical tub mixer unlike in paddle mixers. As a daily machine and avoiding additional contract costs, Vertical’s flexibility is key especially in AYR systems. Larger farms will also find vertical tub efficient and quicker (ability to hold higher mix tonnages).

It is true that overprocessing can easily happen but with attention to detail, order of ingredients and timely adjustments its flexibility allows negatives to be circumnavigated. Premixes can be made before and longer hay/straw can be mixed/chopped before blends, wet mixes and forages are added. The key to vertical is to mix for a noticeably short time particularly with wet forages. Kennan have realised the wonders of vertical tub and hence why they have developed their first vertical tub in recent years!!

Andrew.
I am afraid we will have to agree to disagree. I think the tumbling action of a paddle mixer gives a better mix. I know some people will consider my opinion old fashioned. I always use the analogy of baking a cake. I have a Kenwood Chef that I use to make cakes. Even with its orbital mixing pattern it still does not mix everything in the bowl, and you must stop it to include those missed bits in the mix. It’s no different with a vertical mixer, it will miss some bits, but with a paddle mixer it will make a more even and consistent mix without over processing the mix.

Though a vertical mixer can process straw better than a paddle mixer, I would prefer to use tub ground straw. This is best way to process straw to the correct length and a lot easier than in any mixer.

To conclude.
Neither is wrong, both have positives and negatives. Vertical tub mixing gives you more options but can negatively affect the chop length specifically of wet forages. Straw can be processed with a vertical mixer but not with a paddle mixer. Meanwhile a poor operator can easily make either option, poor.

You just need to find the right mixer for your farm, ensure it is well maintained, serviced and both will work, but just be aware that both have limitations.

Our advice would be to try before you buy!

For further advice on Dairy Consultancy and Nutrition, contact Wesley at wesleyhabershon@fcgagric.com and Andrew at andrew@dblbuyinggroup.co.uk or your local FCG Office.

Posted in Chippenham, Dairy & Forage, Sherborne.