John Leadingham, 2000 pigs at Turriff, Aberdeenshire:
“Spreading straw for pigs on your own on a hot day is not a job, it’s a sentence”, says John Ledingham jnr. Dav (John Snr) agrees:
“Spreading straw – that used take a couple of hours every other day now takes a matter of minutes. It used to be time-consuming, hard physical work.
“One important benefit is that the Spread-A-Bale does not tie up a tractor. The machine takes a matter of seconds to fit it to the telescopic loader, and is self-loading. It doesn’t chop the straw so there is no dust”.
Dave Etherington, 200 beef cattle at Sledmere, Yorkshire:
“We looked at a number of machines before choosing the Spread-A-Bale. It is hydraulic, so there is far less to go wrong.
“It saves us a lot of time and money. It now takes us about 20 minutes to straw up eleven pens, each of them about 40 feet by 45 feet, whereas it took a lot longer manually.
“It does not chop the straw when spreading it, so it makes a better bed for the cattle, as chopped straw tends to turn into a ‘mush’ to quick. That better utilisation probably saves 30% on straw usage”.
Nigel Armstrong, manager of 280 dairy cows/followers at Nottingham University:
“The machine is hydraulically driven rather than pto-powered, and because it uses no fast moving parts it eliminates the risk of stones or similar objects being ‘fired’ at cattle or buildings: “Our old bale spreader used to tie up one tractor all the time, and a second one when it needed loading. The Spread-A-Bale is quickly connected and disconnected from the tractor or loader, and is also ‘self-loading’, which optimises tractor/manpower usage. Running costs are much lower than its predecessor and we get the work done three times as quickly”.
Father/son David and Chris Andrews, 1,400 beef cattle at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire:
“We are really pleased with it. It is a good machine”, says David. “We used to put round bales in the pens with a front end loader and then spread them manually.
“Now we use big square bales and distribute 12 to 14 bales a day. Spreading them is such a quick operation that the time it takes is actually more dependent on how close the bales are stored to the yards”.
Francis Read, 3000 beef cattle at Newmarket, Suffolk:
“We were looking for a machine to spread bedding but did not like the choppers and blowers because they create too much dust while chopping the straw, which can cause eye trouble, while the chopped straw does not last as long when spread in the bed. The machines can also fire stones and other objects out at speed, which risks injuring animals and damaging the buildings.
Gustav Weden, Swedish importer:
“One of our customers uses the Spread-A-Bale to bed down 150 sows and saves a lot of time and straw. The better quality bed improves the pigs’ health – in contrast to the chopper/blowers available which he feels create too much dust and might still take too much time to do the job. “Under Swedish law farmers must spread straw over manure heaps to suppress ammonia production, and the Spread-A-Bale has more than enough reach to do that as well!”
Phil Newcombe, 120 dairy cattle, Leicestershire:
“We used to spread up to 10 round bales a day by hand which was time consuming. The Spread-a-Bale has reduced that by about 30% and halved the time taken for the job – which has released valuable time for me to develop Lubcloud Dairy, which bottles and sells our milk, cream and yoghurts.
“The machine distributes the straw far better than we can by hand. It leaves it in a nice, fluffy bed and covers the pen better, which I am sure is helping reduce the potential for mastitis. The first time you do it they are a bit shocked, but they soon start thinking it is fun”.
Thomas Fisher, 650 dairy cows, Carlisle:
“We saw a Spread-a-Bale working on a neighbour’s farm are were impressed with how easy it is to operate and how effectively it spread straw right across the pens. We used to bed down using a chopper blower but stopped using it because it did not do a good enough job.
“Bedding down takes half the time it did compared with moving the bales to the pens on the forks of a tractor and spreading by hand. We are also using only half as much straw. The machine pays for itself in straw and time savings”.
Tom & Arfon Phillips, 230 Pedran Holsteins, Pembrokeshire
“One man can do the work that used to occupy two people – and the job is far less demanding, says Tom, to which Arfon adds:
“We used to do the whole operation by hand, which was a long and physically demanding job. The Spread-A-Bale cuts the time and work. It is very easy to load and use, and I am sure we are using less straw as well. It spreads the straw very evenly, rather than blasting it everywhere as some of the other machines on the market do. I had never been a fan of blowing straw because of the danger of expelling stones at speed”.
Richard Malpass, 360 dairy cows/followers, Staffordshire:
“First we bedded down by hand, which was hard work, time consuming and often produced a very uneven bed. Then we used a chopper spreader, but it made a lot of dust, and spat stones out regularly – when we refurbished the unit some years ago we found 28 holes in the roof”, says Richard.
Employee Sam Holroyd adds: “We are currently using far less straw than when we were spreading by hand. It can even spread poor quality and matted straw that would be difficult to spread even by hand”.
Peter Butter, Minsterley, Shropshire:
“Rising cow numbers meant manual spreading was impractical, so we had to find a quicker and more efficient way of doing it. We looked at a range of machines before we bought the Spread-a-Bale, but the mounted ones tied up a tractor or handler, and we felt they risked making too much dust inside the house. We put the feed in the troughs, which brings the animals to one side of the pen, and then drive in and spread the straw behind them. The even spread the machine achieves – and the fact it spreads the straw complete without shredding it – help make a longer-lasting bed that keeps the animals cleaner”.