For one lucky farming family, this year’s busy summer season will be made easier by a versatile addition to the tractor fleet. David Williams reports.
The winner of the Farmers Guide and Case IH ‘Win a Luxxum Tractor’ competition took delivery of the superb prize in early May, having almost missed entering as the entry form was completed, but forgotten for a few weeks on a shelf.
JS Walton & Co has farmed Stock Plain Farm, Glasshouses near Harrogate for more than 60 years and livestock include dairy and beef cattle, and a large flock of sheep, spread between three sites, two owned and the other rented.
The farm is run by Daniel Walton, his father John, nephew William (Will) Bradley and his father David, who also works on neighbouring farms.
The family has received Farmers Guide for approximately six years and Daniel said it’s a useful magazine and one of the few he looks for and reads each month. “William saw the competition and I told him to enter it,” explained Daniel. “We never really thought we would win and after William had filled in the answers and the tiebreaker he left the form on a shelf and forgot about it. It was found and posted by my mother and when we received the call to say we had won we were surprised and really pleased.
“We run four tractors currently and have had only one brand on the farm for the past 50 years or more, so the opportunity to try something different will be welcome. It’s an ideal size for us, with a great specification and it’s coming at an ideal time to help during our busy summer period.”
The 80-head dairy herd is mainly Holstein with a few crosses and there are 260 ewes, mainly Texel-Mule crosses and some Suffolks. Some pure Texels are kept as well. Calves are kept and reared through to stores, including Holstein crosses, Blue and Aberdeen Angus.
A difficult start to the year due to late, harsh winter weather meant livestock were kept in later than usual and the lambing season, which starts in February, was among the worst in recent years. “We try to turn lambs out quickly after a few weeks and send them to our other farms keeping the grass at Glasshouses for cattle,” explained Daniel. “This year we had to keep the sheep in for much longer and were very lucky we had space for them inside having invested in a new barn last year.” Cattle are usually turned out in early May and brought back in from late October, making it a long winter period for the farm. Up to 30ha of grass at Stock Plain Farm provides grazing for the 80 dairy cattle, and Daniel said an average 40-in of rain each year means there is always plenty of moisture for growth, but extra nutrients are needed.
Straw is bought in from neighbouring arable farms or swapped for sheep grazing. Slurry is kept for the farm’s own land as it is too valuable to supply elsewhere.
Local markets are used to sell livestock, including Otley Wharfedale and Pateley Bridge for cattle, and Otley Wharfedale for lambs.
The farm buildings are approximately 450–500ft above sea level and the highest land is 750–800ft with soils ranging from heavy clay to loam, all with high stone content.
The farm’s tractor fleet includes models from 45–105hp. An 80hp tractor and front loader is used for feeding and bedding mainly in the winter months, and a modern telescopic handler is used daily on the dairy unit, mainly for loading the mixer wagon. The main tractor is changed for new every 10 years or 3,000 hours, and the others are older. Most servicing is carried out on farm.
Local Case IH main dealer JG Paxton & Sons prepared the tractor for the handover and will be on-hand to provide advice and service support during the six-month loan. “We have an excellent relationship with the Waltons and supplied and service the telescopic handler as well as other machinery,” commented area sales manager Chris Gall. “The competition win gives the farm the opportunity to find out the benefits of our tractors too, over this extended period. The Luxxum is an ideal all-around grassland and livestock tractor with a superb power-to-weight ratio and it will impress on the farm’s slopes and for transport. The cab and loader suspension mean it’s comfortable at high working speeds up to 40kph, and with the farms a fair distance apart this will be an advantage.
“The Walton family runs a nice clean business, a traditional family farm and a pleasure to deal with and the tractor couldn’t be going to a more appropriate user,” he added.
The 107hp Luxxum 110 was supplied with an LRZ120 self-levelling loader, an electro-hydraulic joystick, hydraulic push-back hitch, cab suspension and LED lights, and Daniel said its availability will be a big help during the busy summer period and the 40kph transmission and comfortable ride will be a benefit travelling between the farm sites which are up to 20 miles apart. As well as general farm tasks, jobs earmarked for the new Luxxum at an early stage were bringing in 800–850 round silage bales and 200–250 of straw. Slurry spreading through the farm’s 1,500-gallon tanker and muck application using a 12t spreader are also likely to keep the tractor busy.
Will has recently finished exams at the local high school and is starting a farming apprenticeship at a local beef and sheep farm, while also studying agriculture part-time at Askham Bryan College. He pointed out that he has already booked the Luxxum for travel to and from his school prom night but admitted it might be difficult to achieve the same gleaming finish as at the handover.