Lamma 2014 preview: McHale feeder/bedder fits in well on organic enterprise 11 December 2013

The McHale C460 bale shredder was originally launched at Lamma 2012 and is the company’s first venture into this busy market. Since then, the County Mayo manufacturer has worked closely with its customers to further develop and refine the machine.

With 100 beef cattle as part of a 120-hectare (300-acre) organic enterprise, along with 150 ewes, outdoor pigs, free range eggs and turkeys, Walton Lodge Farm’s estate manager John Brailsford and his assistant Craig Ellis are kept busy all year round. The Belted Galloways come into the sheds at the Peak Park farm from October to April and are fed on home-grown silage. Farm produce exclusively supplies the owner’s luxury hotel in Chesterfield and, under Mr Brailsford’s direction, the beef herd has been established and farm infrastructure developed to meet the requirements of its customers over the last nine years. Three years ago he decided to upgrade the feeding and bedding system. “We were bringing the bales in on a loader and feeding and bedding down by hand,” Mr Brailsford explains. “But we had a number of Charolais cross stock then and I wanted to make the operation safer. The sheds have been extended or rebuilt so we can work from the outside, so a bale shredder was considered to be the best option.”

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Mr Brailsford also operates McHale round balers and wrappers so was familiar with the brand and has a long-standing relationship with the company’s local dealer Wardmans of Matlock. The C460 arrived at the end of 2011 and has been in daily use through the winters since. Round silage bales of 1.2-metre diameter or large square straw bales are loaded via a tractor loader or via the tailgate if a second tractor is not available, and they are fed to the rotor via a chain and slat conveyor. A 1.57m diameter flywheel with six blowing paddles distributes the material via a 300 degree rotating chute with a two-speed gearbox to reduce flywheel speed for bedding or feeding. An in-cab electronic control operates the tailgate, conveyor, rotor and chute. It also activates a rotor comb to tackle any blockages. A new visual floor indicator allows the operator to see floor speed from the tractor cab. “The chute can feed to either side, but as we have plenty of space we always work to the right,” says Mr Brailsford. “The weanlings soon get used to the straw blowing over them and we have not had any problems with their eyes.” He reckons that the C460 can work its way through a bale in about two minutes, although getting the silage right helps maximise efficiency. “Our balers chop the crop and we wilt the sward well to make it easier to feed,” Mr Brailsford says. “All types of straw are handled well, with wheat straw fluffing up the best, but even rape straw, used to cover a shortfall, went through the machine well”, he adds. The C460 can be handled by a machine with as little as 70hp, although Mr Brailsford powers his with the farm’s general workhorse, a 120hp John Deere 6430 used for baling and wrapping in the summer as well as muck spreading and pasture reseeding. Mr Brailsford says that Walton Lodge Farm had one of the first C460 models in the UK and that McHale have made many modifications to it, necessary as the design has developed.

Durability

This included adding a solid crop guard to replace the original grille for durability, adjusting the knife in the top of the chute and tweaking the impeller. A new heavier floor motor allows the machine to better deal with badly shaped bales, and a floor speed control switch, allowing stepped or continuous movements, has also been added. The original rotor gear control button had to be depressed for a few moments, but activation is now instant. Other updates have included a heavier feed regulator plate to better control bale feed and to reduce crop coming off the top of the bale. A re-designed discharge chute also allows for a more even crop flow which reduces the risk of blockages. McHale dealer David Wardman says: “The C460 was a new venture for McHale and we are all keen to get the best out of the machine as it has worked with a variety of fodder and bedding types. As any modifications have come along we have worked with the manufacturer to add them to Walton Lodge’s bale shredder.”

Craig Ellis, who also operates the C460, says that there is little maintenance required, other than checking the paddles and knife clearance and keeping the machine well greased. Grease banks are now outside the guards, allowing multiple areas to be greased from one central point without removing them. It is still on the original set of blades and Mr Brailsford praises the typically heavy McHale build. “I can’t see any reason to change it – there’s hardly any wear although we work it hard in the winter. It looks like it would go on forever.”

Specification

  • Model: McHale C460 bale shredder
  • Bale chamber: 1,350mm by 1,220mm by 1,400mm
  • Bale capacity: Two round bales or one large square bale
  • Length: 4.2m (door closed)
  • Width: Two metres
  • Discharge: Three stage chute with 300 degree rotation
  • Minimum power requirement: 70hp
  • Minimum oil flow: 35 litres/minute at 160bar
  • Gearbox: Twin speed independent
  • Rotor Drive Type: High Torque Belt Drive

For addtional information on the McHale C460 Bale Feeder and Straw Blower, click here.