This dairy farm has dramatically improved efficiency and staff safety with a Hustler Combi wagon!

Published 10th November 2022

John Pethybridge, an Australian dairy farmer, recently bought a Hustler Combi RX148 multi-feeder wagon from local dealer McGregor Machinery. Watch this video to find out how the Hustler machine improved John’s operation and the safety of his staff.


John’s dairy operation is based near the small town of Whorouly, in the valley of the Ovens River about 270 kilometres (170 miles) northeast of the State of Victoria’s capital, Melbourne

Victoria is Australia’s largest dairy-producing and exporting state. Sixty-two per cent of Australia’s milk production is from Victoria. John’s dairy operation consists of 300 milking cows over a little less than 1000 acres. The farm is mainly based on a grass-feeding, rotational grazing system. However, despite a climate generally favourable to grass growth, providing a combination of adequate rainfall and warmth, it is often not enough. “We’re believers that animals are going to go out in the paddock and do most of the work to graze and we’re trying to fill the feed gaps and that’s where this Hustler machine comes in,” John explained.

Of course, the purchase of the Hustler Combi RX148 was a significant investment for the farm, but the cost of entry has been offset by the time and efficiency gains. John’s wife wasn’t entirely convinced at first, but when they were able to test the machine on the farm, she told him at the end of the day “this machine is good. You came home early,” John recalled with a laugh.  


“It’s really easy to use”


The Hustler Combi RX range is a 100% hydraulically driven machine designed to easily handle any type of feed, round or square bales, silage, maize, root crops or waste feed. “Being able to put two different products in – corn silage and grass silage – to create a bit of a loose sort of mix for the cows has been really beneficial,” John said.

A twin-speed rear pusher blade feeds the feed to a cross floor, then the bale or bulk feed is separated and distributed by a large side elevator. The elevator can be angled to a greater or lesser degree depending on the aggressiveness required. 

“Depending on how you’re feeding, you can have a more aggressive tilt on your door and it tears the product apart if you want to spread it out. Or if you want to feed into a feeder and feed it thicker you can put your door down and feed it out more aggressively,” John detailed. 

The elevator works on a single ram to eliminate twisting and reduce maintenance. The ram is also mounted out of harm’s way from debris off the tires and from silage juices damaging the seals.

“The way we use the machine generally is on a feed pad with the elevator into a concrete trough for the dairy cows,” John said.


“With the tandem axle, you can get over a lot of country and a lot of areas”


Although John feeds out his herd in troughs thanks to the machine’s versatility (the RX range comes with a standard feedpad kit to eliminate spillage of feed), the ‘great outdoors’ remain the Hustler Combi RX’s favourite terrain! The wagon excels on difficult or hilly terrain with its tough axle design that embarks a massive 2,200 cm² (72 ft²) of pivot surface area and 100 mm (0.3 in) diameter pivot pins. With a huge ground clearance, the chassis and the side elevator are out of harm’s way, eliminating the chance of damage to the working parts when operating on undulating ground.

“The other benefit of the machine is the usability to be able to get out in paddocks, and where to paddocks as well because with the tandem axle, you can get over a lot of country and a lot of areas,” John explained. “We’ve got a big enough machine to be able to pull it around in the hills and the flat so we have a varying country here.”


“The maintenance on the machine is very small”


“One of the big things that we like about the machine is the maintenance on it is very small,” John said. Everything has been designed with longevity and efficiency in mind. The cable and hose tracks are built into the design as standard to protect them from the possibility of damage. The central greasing station for the axle comes standard on all the Combi RX models and difficult-to-access grease points.

“The grease nipples are all in one spot so you just grease up all that bank of nipples.”

The sprockets mounted on the Combi RX range are made of high-tensile, a high-resistance material also called Bisalloy® used for manufacturing earthmoving equipment cutting edges. The driveshafts are also covered to eliminate feed material from wrapping, which could create jamming, blockage and unnecessary constraints on the gear. Internally ported rams eliminate hose failures and downtime, another clever innovation from Hustler! At last but not least, hydraulic gearbox drives are now standard to eliminate moving parts and improve reliability and increase the drive power.

Of course, the Combi RX range is backed up by a full 2-year warranty for peace of mind. 

“It’s good to know that we’ve got a bit of reliability with the machine,” John said.


“The machine just works really well”


John decided to equip his Combi RX148 with a weighing system. “We’ve also got scales on this particular machine, which means that if we want to split loads with different mobs, we’ve got the ability to know how much we’ve fed, where we’re feeding it, and take a lot of the guesswork out of feed budgets and the nutrition side of it for us,” he explained. 

Feedlink scales and feed management system are an option that can be added to the machine (and also retrofitted). It’s simply the most advanced wireless scale system on the market. You can choose to keep things simple with the basics such as a live weight reading or take the control of your feed management programme to the next level by pre-setting your daily feeding routine, receiving reports to track feed proof-of-placement, operator performance and insights into over or underfeeding. 


“It’s a lot safer for our workers and our staff”


“Some of the other benefits of the machine are that we can load it up full of silage, go do your feed,” John said.

When feeding out large volumes of hay bales, safety is often an issue as the livestock get – understandably – excited to get to their feed. Most of the accidents involving stock during feeding happen when the farmer is exposed – while feeding out by hand, removing the net wrap from the bales directly in the paddock or going through gateways, opening and closing the gates.

“The ability to feed many bales of hay to different mobs of animals, it’s a lot safer for our workers and our staff,” John explained. “Instead of feeding things off utes (pick-up trucks) or with littler feeders (such as bale unrollers), we can load up the machine and send a staff member out in the paddock and we know that they’re going to be safe. They’re in a tractor,” John continued. 

Thanks to its large capacity ranging from 12.5 m³ (16.3 yd³) to 26 m³ (34 yd³), the Hustler Combi wagons can be loaded at the feed station or in the farm’s main yard before going feeding out, avoiding multiple trips.

“It just makes life a lot easier for us and makes us avoid a lot less stress,” John concluded.


“I’d recommend Hustler. These machines have been fantastic for us”


“Gives me a lot of confidence going forward and they keep working. So, very happy,” John concluded.


Do you want to know more about Hustler’s Combi ranges? Contact us today, you’ll be glad you did!


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