A revolutionary new straw bedder was demonstrated by Teagle at a press event in Warwickshire
A revolutionary new straw bedder, designed to make the most of the high performance hydraulics found on most modern telescopic handlers, was demonstrated by Teagle at a press event in Warwickshire. David Williams attended.Teagle’s Tomahawk feeder bedders are a common sight on UK livestock farms, and the company claims to have a market share of approximately 50 per cent, with 1,000 choppers produced annually. With 17 distinctive models there is a version suitable for almost every type of livestock unit, and its optional dual-chop system, which allows users to select the length of chop at the touch of a button, is popular, as the appropriate straw length can be provided for feed mixes and bedding.The current range includes both trailed and linkage-mounted versions, but Teagle is responding to the increasing availability of telescopic handlers on farms, and their improved hydraulic specification by introducing an all-new model, the Telehawk, which mounts on the headstock and uses the hydraulic oil supply to power the feed mechanism, chopper and impeller.”The UK market for telescopic handlers has grown to between 3,000-3,500 units per year,” explained Teagle UK sales manager Jim Squires. “Modern versions have powerful hydraulic systems capable of operating demanding attachments and it makes sense to offer a spreader which allows farmers to make better use of their machines. Teagle explained that mounting the spreader on a telescopic handler can provide certain advantages over a trailed or tractor-mounted machine. Being able to lift it over barriers and end-gates to spread at the rear of a building or to get into tight corners means precise application of bedding is possible, and the front-mounted spreader allows the operator very good visibility from the cab.Trailed and rear-mounted feeder bedders are easily controlled from a tractor as there is a short distance between the operator and the machine so only short control cables are needed. However, mounting the spreader on the front of a telehandler provides a challenge in terms of controlling the spread direction and angle, as well as basic functions such as starting and stopping the spreading, as the long distance from the cab means a long multi-core cable is vulnerable to damage, and if the boom is extended then the cable could be stretched.Teagle’s solution was to develop a Bluetooth wire-less control system; a cab-mounted control box provides comprehensive control and adjustment of the bedder, a receiver mounted on the spreader transferring the command to the hydraulic actuators. Drive is hydraulic and control is by Bluetooth, an in cab-controller developed specially by Teagle. Design engineer David Botterell (pictured with the control box), says the original intention was to use multi-core cable, but the potential for damage was high and the wireless control was developed instead. Teagle says that to operate the spreader, the handler must be capable of lifting at least 2.6t, have a minimum oil flow at the headstock of 60 litres/min, and a minimum operating pressure of 2,320psi. A single acting valve with an unrestricted return must be fitted.Brackets are available to fit Caterpillar, Claas Scorpion, JCB, John Deere, Kramer, Manitou, Matbro, Merlo and New Holland handlers.When designing the new spreader, Jim explained the main requirements were that it must be able to handle both round and square bales, thoroughly tease the bale apart, bruise the straw to maximise absorbency and comfort, spread the material in any direction, be easy to load and be capable of use with a typical farm materials handler.Loading is simple; the operator driving forwards to push the base of the spreader body beneath the bale. He then tilts the spreader backward so that the bale slides to the rear of the chamber, and secures the retaining chains. The strings are then cut and withdrawn.For spreading, the bale is gently teased apart by hook rippers fixed to a low-speed crossbeater drum and the bale’s pressure against the beater is maintained by the twin-chain and slat bed conveyor. A large impeller collects the straw from the beater and propels it up the chute.The discharge chute swivels 280 degrees, adjustable from the cab control box, and has an adjustable outlet providing a range up to 13.5m. A large rectangular bale is broken apart and spread in 2-3 minutes. Speed of the bed chains is adjustable from the in-cab controller and the pressure of the bed chains against the beater is adjustable to suit the bales being spread, using an external control valve mounted on the spreader body. This stops or reverses the bed chain as required to optimise the straw processing speed, and the duration of the reverse pulse is adjustable to suit the material being chopped, from 0.25-2.00 seconds.To help protect against blockages, priority of hydraulic oil flow is always to the impeller.The discharge chute swivels around 280 degrees which, with the spread distance of up to 13.5m, means good distribution can be achieved. The top hinged section of the chute is adjustable vertically, from the control box, allowing the operator to control the distance material is thrown and to place it precisely.Development work on the Telehawk started in 2012, a first prototype trialled in the winter, and in spring 2013 on-farm trials were taking place. Last autumn the first pre-production units were delivered to farm, with cable operated controls, while development work on the Bluetooth controller was completed by spring 2014.”Using well-proven components from existing models in our range, the Telehawk achieves a well-structured and comfortable bed, making the most of the bedding material, capable of supporting the stock bedded on it, and providing the absorbency needed. For optimum milk production from dairy herds and maximum live-weight gain from beef cattle the bed has to be comfortable, and the stock has to want to rest on it and with more than 15,000 Tomahawk bedders working on farms already, the new model shares a great provenance,” added Jim.He quoted bedding trials that have shown that if a dairy cow will lie down for an extra 1.5hrs per day then an additional 1-litre of milk is produced, and beef livestock using straw beds achieved a 30 per cent improvement in live-weight gain over those with no bedding. “When a mechanical bedder is used then the straw can be applied little and often, ensuring the most comfortable bed and providing a saving in the amount of straw needed. Typically 18 per cent less straw is needed when a bedder is used, and almost 30 per cent less time is needed to maintain the bedding. This amounts to a payback time of 2-2.5 years for the bedder when used for a 100-cow dairy herd,” he added.The Telehawk is available to order now, and the price is 15,640 inclusive of electronic controls, swivel chute and the power cable kit. Mounting brackets cost 345 per set.