Tigo perfect silage solution for West Coast dairy farmers
Andrew and Jody Shaw are sharemilkers in Waitaha Valley, south of Hokitika. They arrived three seasons ago from their previous farm in Whataroa.
Initially they farmed 600 cows and fed them baleage. Then the farm owner approached them about share-milking their property. Now, with the help of five staff, they milk 1100 cows on 520 hectares and a 100 hectare run-off.
In an operation that size is was impractical to make baleage. “If we made bales it would take forever to feed out and we’d need 3000 bales,” says Andrew.
Faced with those facts, the Shaws bought a Lely Tigo R40 loader wagon. It’s now onto its third season and has been a great investment.
For Andrew it’s important to do his own silage. “We need to do it when we can as the weather gets so wet. If we have three fine days we can get it in that night.” He says the Tigo is a robust machine and he uses it on heavy soils.
The R40 model has a 26m3 capacity. There are bigger loaders than it but the ground in Andrew’s paddocks is too wet to take a heavier load. It also has adjustable knives so you can specify how long or short the cut should be. The minimum on the R40 is 45mm and it has a 31-knife 800mm cutting rotor and a five-tine, non-steered pick-up. Andrew says his neighbour has a different brand loader, and it just doesn’t cut as well as the Tigo.
He also likes that it is easy to operate and maintain. It can pick up the occasional rock but they go through without damage. “If it stuffs up, it’s something I’ve done wrong,” says Andrew. “The entire chopping head drops down hydraulically at the push of a button, giving easy access to the knives for sharpening. “Every season we make three large stacks around the farm. After every stack, about every 150 tonne, I take them out and sharpen them.” Grease points are easy to get to and in three years that’s all the maintenance that’s been required.
The Tigo has an auto-loading wall. It keeps the silage well packed in, so every load is at maximum, and it beeps when it’s full. It has two 10mm chains to empty the load and these are hydraulically driven. For farmers who want to feed directly to barn-raised cows, the loader can be fitted with a conveyer that spills the grass out to the side of the loader, for cows to grab.
It’s a very stable machine with a low linkage to the tractor and hydraulic suspension on the drawbar reducing shocks between the tractor and the loader. Lely has also paid close attention to the loader suspension making sure it’s steady whether at road speed or driving in the paddock.
Andrew pulls his Tigo R40 with a 190hp New Holland though he thinks he could probably pull it with 115hp. “It’s more power than what I need, but when it’s in wetter ground and sinks, it doesn’t make a mess as the tractor just keeps going.”
He says he chose Lely for two reasons. One was the great run he and Jody had from a Lely Welger baler bought in 2001 on their previous farm. They also value the Westport dealer they bought it through, Westland Farmers. “We do a lot of business with Westland Farmers and they treat us very well. We had one minor breakdown – a teething problem – that they sorted it right away.”
Andrew is expecting his Tigo to easily last another seven seasons.