Scottish farmer switched to Hustler bale unroller, saving an hour a day and dozens of tons of silage!
Drew Kennedy farms in Aberfeldy, Scotland and discovered Hustler Unrolla LX105 bale unroller on a YouTube video. He requested a demo from his local Hustler dealer and the machine never left the farm! Today, Drew is using the unroller on his JCB telehandler and is able to feed his different mobs in a few minutes, saving about one hour every day. He is also managing to save lots of hay. Watch his video testimonial to find out more.
We visited Tom of Cluny Farm in spring, where we met farm owner and manager Andrew ‘Drew’ Kennedy located in Aberfeldy, Highland Perthshire “right in the middle of Scotland.”
Perthshire is known as the “big county”, or “the Shire”, due to its roundness and status as the fourth largest historic county in Scotland. It has a wide variety of landscapes, from the rich agricultural straths in the east to the high mountains of the Southern Highlands.
Drew Kennedy runs a cattle beef operation on a 420-acre upland unit, with about 200 head of cattle, half of them being suckler cows, consisting in Belgian Blue cross, British Blue cross Friesian put to a Limousin bull.
The herd is fed almost exclusively with “homemade silage, which is all made with under sown barley, cut and put into bales,” Drew explained.
In the past, Drew was “used to put bales in feeders and bunkers, and the cattle were spending half the day trying to pull the feed out,” Drew said. Even though dropping entire bales in feeders doesn’t require a lot of gear (except maybe a good pitchfork), Drew wasn’t happy with that system which didn’t allow to maximise the cow’s feed intakes – a primary concern, especially in a fattening operation. He tried to mechanise the operation, but he “had previous machines that required a lot of maintenance” that impacted badly the farm’s bottom line.
In short, finding the best way to feed his herd was a real headache for Drew.
“The first I ever saw of a Hustler was actually watching on a YouTube video, believe it or not,” Drew said. Hustler maintains a regularly updated YouTube channel with testimonial videos and product news. “When I saw this machine working, I thought it has the potential of really working here at home. I asked if I could get a demonstration and the demonstration worked incredibly well,” Drew recalled.
“The demonstration worked incredibly well”
Drew bought an Unrolla LX105 mounted bale unroller that he uses mainly at the front of his JCB telehandler. Indeed, the Hustler Unrolla LX105 can be fitted on a 3-point linkage or on most of the front loaders or telehandlers available on the market today.
The Hustler Unrolla LX105 bale unroller has been designed for both outdoor and indoor feeding in dead-end, narrow stables as the Unrolla headstock connects from both sides of the feeding cradle and feeds out to both sides as well! It is also lightweight and compact enough to be operated with small tractors or loaders for increased maneuverability. Feeds out all round bales, hay or baled silage, loose silage, maize, fodder-beet and even misshapen bales. The integrated tines for easy loading mean there is no need for another tractor to load the feeder.
“We’ve got four different types of ways we feed cattle here, and it does them all,” Drew confirmed.
“This seemed to be a very simple machine, little or no maintenance”
Thanks to the fully enclosed Polyethylene floor there is no risk for feed to fall out. It is also UV and shock resistant and doesn’t corrode like floors made from steel. The slipperiness of the polyethylene reduces torque and makes it easier to turn bales compared to a steel surface.
Hustler used the toughest roller chains on the market with larger diameter rollers and pins for less wear and longer life. The extra-strong shark teeth are designed to release the feed at precisely the right moment and can easily be swapped for a flatter option or replaced, as the system is bolted on.
Self-aligning bearings easily outlast any type of bush system and require less maintenance and grease. Bearing covers keep the bearings clean, reducing maintenance and downtime while the drive shaft eliminates silage wrapping on shafts and jamming sprockets.
“This seemed to be a very simple machine, little or no maintenance, and I think it will last a long time,” Drew said about his Hustler machine.
“It’s quick to work. It unrolls a bale in less than a minute. And we’ve rolled about 1250-1300 bales so far this year,” Drew detailed.
The Hustler patented Snaplox system helps to reduce loading time. Snaplox is a hands-free auto-connect and disconnect system that lets you disconnect the feeder by simply lowering it to the ground.
“They fill themselves quickly, and then they can just go back and lie down and thrive. And we noticed a big difference in our cattle this year. And as much as they fleshed up quicker, simply because they didn’t have to work too hard for the feed,” Drew explained.
“We noticed a big difference in our cattle this year”
“We used to feed ad-lib silage, we’re now being able to ration it. And because the cattle are feeding quicker, us being able to ration, we’ve actually got bales over here that we’re going to have leftover for next year. Normally, we’re actually buying in silage for this time. So that’s gonna be a big saving for next year as well,” Drew said.
This finding by Drew is supported by scientific research. Ron Lemenager, Professor of Animal Science at Purdue University in Indiana in the US, conducted research over a three-year period to study how much hay was consumed when cows were given only a limited amount of time to eat. Forage intake was reduced by as much as 75%, 60%, and 33%, respectively, when cattle were restricted to one, two, or three hours access to hay compared to cows having free access to hay – with no difference in cow weight change. Click here to read the full summary of the research.
“Our feed times are probably saving potentially about an hour a day”
“Our feed times are probably saving potentially about an hour a day. The fact that we’re saving time, doing it better, better for the animals, which is the key thing really, because if we don’t look after the animals, they don’t look after us, and it’s quite an important thing to have” Drew concluded.
Unrolla LX105 round bale feeder – 5 Key benefits in a nutshell
- The Snaplox auto connect/disconnect hands-free loading system saves you time, saves you having to tug on a rope to disconnect, and saves you from twisting your back. It’s fail-safe, fast and operates naturally. It is also the perfect feature when you choose to fit your unroller at the front of your tractor.
- The toughest chains and floor bars on the market are bullet-proof and lasts the entire lifespan of the bale feeder. Super strong roller chains with a combined strength of 24,000lbs, with tough 40mm x 40mm zinc-plated bars. Bars are bolted to the chain, a stronger and more easily replaceable system.
- Tough new thermoform fully enclosed polyethylene floor with covered drive shafts which eliminate wrapping. It’s non-corrosive, impervious to UV, slippery, easily repairable and very shock resistant. Fully enclosed – no wastage of expensive feed. A longer bed can take 5’ long bales.
- Low maintenance. Just 4 grease nipples are all it takes to maintain the Unrolla LX105 round bale feeder, that’s because instead of bushes we use long-lasting, fully sealed block bearings, mounted outboard to keep them clean and free of damage from acidic silage juices. We’ve also added bearing covers that prevent debris from causing damage.
- Flexible design. Do you operate in barns, outdoors, on steep country, with a loader or a telehandler, supplement with loose silage or fodder beet? With the flexible configuration of the Unrolla LX105 round bale feeder, your machine will suit all of the above. No other unroller allows this level of flexibility which gives you peace of mind, should you want to change the way you operate.