Pneumatic or mechanical?
The closing gate on the feeding station has become an essential part of the Dutch dairy stable. A closing gate ensures more peace and quiet in the barn and a better feed intake per cow. The closing gate is still gaining in popularity. Livestock farmers looking for a suitable closing gate ask themselves the question: "Do I want pneumatic (air-controlled) or mechanical?"
Anything new is scary, especially if it also moves. Cows are naturally curious and when curiosity is rewarded with chunks, they will be quickly convinced. The pneumatic closing gate can be operated manually by the farmer. The gate can then be raised temporarily, giving the cows plenty of time to quietly investigate the feeding station and get used to the new situation themselves. With the mechanical gate, the cow has to dare to go a step further; after all, she has to press against something herself.
A startle reaction must of course be avoided. The pneumatic gate closes in a controlled way, always at the same speed. But never presses through! The pneumatic gate only makes a soft airy sound when closing. The mechanical closing gate, obviously depending on the model and how the cow enters it, can make a slight hinging to clapping sound when closing.
The power of the mechanical closing gate is also the major point of interest. The mechanical closing gate is controlled by the cow itself. When entering the feeding station, the closing gate is closed by levers that the cow pushes against. When leaving the concentrate feeding station, the cow must again push against these levers to open it. If a cow refuses to leave the station, she can occupy the concentrate station indefinitely. Think of dominant cows, who want more kibble, or cows low in rank, who feel unsafe in the herd. As a result, the capacity of the concentrate station decreases and feed reserves of other cows cannot be fully absorbed.
The pneumatic closing gate is controlled by the motor of the concentrate feeder. At rest, this closing gate is always open. When a cow is recognised as entitled to concentrate feed, the feed doser motor starts running and the closing gate closes. After the cow has taken the last ration of concentrated feed and the corresponding feeding time has elapsed, the closing gate opens again. As a result, a cow will never occupy the concentrate station longer than necessary.
Both closing gates have wear parts. When buying a closing gate, make sure the hinge points are on top of the feeding station so that they are out of reach of dirt (manure, hair, etc.) and wear and tear is minimised.
Another thing to pay attention to is the number of hinge points. A mechanical closing gate has more moving parts than a pneumatic closing gate. The moving parts of a mechanical closing gate