Pneumatic or mechanical?

The pros and cons of two types of gates

Pneumatic or mechanical?

Gates on concentrate feeders have become a permanent fixture in Dutch dairy sheds. Gates increase peace in the shed and improve the feed intake of each cow. Gates are still increasing in popularity. Livestock farmers choosing a suitable gate quickly face a number of questions: "Do I want a pneumatic or a mechanical gate?" "What are the advantages of a pneumatic gate?"

Training cows
Anything new can be frightening, especially when it moves. Cows are curious by nature, and they can be easily persuaded when their curiosity is rewarded with pellets. The pneumatic gate can be manually operated by the farmer. The gate can be temporarily raised to give the cows time to calmly investigate the feed station and adjust to the new situation. The mechanical gate requires a bit more effort on the cows' part, as they need to push against something.

Every precaution must be taken to avoid startling the cows. The pneumatic gate controls the movement to maintain a constant speed. But it never forces through resistance. The pneumatic gate only produces a quiet exhaust air noise when closing. Depending on the model and how the cow enters, the mechanical gate can produce anything from a soft, squeaking hinge noise to a slamming sound when closing.

The mechanical gate's strength is also its biggest weakness. The mechanical gate is operated by the cow herself. When entering the feed station, the gate is closed by levers which the cow operates by pushing against them. When exiting the feed station, the cow must push against the levers again to open the gate. If a cow refuses to leave the feed station, she can occupy it indefinitely. This could be the case for dominant cows who want more feed, or low-ranking cows who feel unsafe in the herd. This reduces the feed station's capacity and can result in insufficient feed intake for other cows.

The pneumatic gate is driven by the concentrate dispenser's motor. In the idle position, the gate is always open. When the feed station detects a cow entitled to concentrate, the dispenser starts and closes the gate. After the cow has had her last portion of concentrate and the associated feeding time has passed, the gate opens automatically. This means that a cow can never occupy the feed station longer than necessary.

Service life
Both types of gates have wear parts. When purchasing a gate, make sure the hinges are on top of the feed station to keep them free of dirt (manure, hair, etc.) and reduce wear as much as possible.

The number of hinge points is also an important consideration. Mechanical gates have more moving parts than their pneumatic counterparts. The moving parts in mechanical gates are sometimes subjected to more friction due to metal-on-metal connections without lubrication. The most important hinge point on a pneumatic gate is the pneumatic cylinder. It is important that condensate from the compressor does not get into the pneumatic cylinder. This can be prevented by installing a condensate drain and pressure regulator between the cylinder and the compressor. 

Hanskamp's pneumatic L'port closing gate was launched in 2008. After more than 10 years, our first gates are still in operation and it looks like they will last at least another 10 years. The L'port closing gate has proven itself over time.

Hanskamp offers a pneumatic L'port closing gate. To receive a quotation that covers your needs, visit Alternatively, you can send an email to or phone us directly at +31 314-393797.

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