A farm-based feed business that supplies a growing volume of rations to beef, dairy and sheep enterprises in South-west Scotland has found that its telescopic handler is well up for the job.

The business uses it to carry ingredients for the different standard and bespoke rations produced by Pickles Agriculture at its Maybole base, near Ayr. These are held in 40-tonne bunkers before being mixed in a paddle-type diet feeder.

Distillers grains, sugar beet pulp and more than 1000 tonnes of barley supplied by local farmers to supplement Andrew McFadzean’s home-grown grains, are turned into 12,000 tonnes of rations a year in a spacious new feed preparation building.

Having invested in the new building, Mr McFadzean and mill operator, Nevin McNeil, discovered that their elderly handler could no longer cope with the volumes involved. To get the capacity needed, one of the first JCB Loadall AGRI Pro handlers to be put to work on-farm was purchased from dealer, Hamilton Brothers, Tarbolton.

“The machine’s combined hydrostatic and powershift transmission was a big attraction and it’s made such a difference to our operation,” pointed out Mr McFadzean. “The Loadall’s constantly on the move, handling up to 100 tonnes of material a day loading the mixer and our delivery lorry. The new machine has made the job that much easier and more efficient.”

The AGRI Pro specification features JCB’s DualTech VT combined hydrostatic and mechanical drive transmission, which is available on all full-size Loadall handlers, from the 536-60 (3.6 tonne lift to 6m) to the 560-80 for heavy bulk materials handling and the 535-95 high lift machine typically used by hay and straw contractors for stacking and retrieving big bales.

He chose the mid-range Loadall 536-70 AGRI Pro for its combination of 7m lift height and 3.6 tonne lift capacity. “This is ideal for our job because it can handle a big size bucket that doesn’t have to be brimmed to get the output, and together with the smooth characteristics of the transmission, means there’s little likelihood of spillages.”

The DualTech VT transmission's hydrostatic element of the transmission operates up to 19kph, before the powershift section takes over, providing power-efficient direct drive – there is no torque converter – up to the machine’s 40kph top road speed.

For low-speed operation in and around buildings and for repeat cycle loading or re-handling, the hydrostatic drive can be operated using the accelerator pedal while a constant engine speed set using an electronic ‘throttle’ provides sufficient oil flow to operate the hydraulics effectively. That means better fuel consumption through making the hydraulic work more efficiently without the need to over-rev.

Mr McFadzean added that during winter, when feed demand is at its greatest, Nevin McNeil on the Loadall can work pretty much non-stop from 7am to 5pm, so it is little wonder that the machine clocked up 2500 hours in its first two years – way more than any of the farm’s tractors.

“It’s a premium machine that comes at a premium price; but it’s worth it for the attributes of that transmission and other features,” he said.