A Fendt round baler, supplied by Thurlow Nunn Standen (TNS), was the obvious choice for an expanding Essex-based farming and contracting business when its ageing Welger baler was due for replacement.
Operating from a base near Clacton and trading as J Byford Agricultural Contracting, Jack Byford started offering his contract baling service in 2020. He had worked on a large livestock farm in the area previously where much of the summer was spent baling, and he was guaranteed plenty of work in his new venture making bales for his previous employer. Starting out on his own, he needed a baler which was both affordable and reliable and he purchased a used Welger RB435 plus a Massey Ferguson tractor. “Previous experience working with Welger round balers meant I was confident of the build quality and long-term reliability, so I felt it was a safe investment,” explained Jack.
The contracting venture proved successful and quickly attracted additional customers so, with the workload increasing, in 2022 Jack upgraded to a new baler. The Welger had performed exceptionally well during its two years making hay, haylage, silage and straw bales, and Jack knew that Fendt Rotana round balers retain the original Welger design with some additional improvements. He approached his local main Fendt dealer, TNS, to check availability and request a quotation.
Confidence in dealer and brand
Being familiar with the basic baler design, Jack didn’t feel that a demonstration of the latest Fendt baler was needed, but he did check what was available from competitor brands. There are plenty of good dealers nearer to us than the TNS Melton depot which looks after most of our machinery,” he explained. “However, it would be very hard for other dealers to beat the back-up from the TNS team however close they are, and none of the other balers we considered were as well made.
“TNS Area Sales Manager, Kyle Tew offered an attractive deal to trade in our Welger baler and purchase an ex-demonstration Rotana 180V with an XtraCut chopper, so we placed our order in autumn last year and the baler was delivered in early September in time to complete the last of the season’s straw baling.”
Range of crops
As well as the Fendt Rotana, Jack also owns a Welger conventional small baler which operates with a flat-10 bale accumulator making hay bales for equestrian use. The Rotana round baler has a variable chamber and can produce bales from 0.7–1.8m diameter. Hay, haylage, silage and straw bales are made. The hay and haylage bales are mostly for equestrian customers, the silage bales are for cattle consumption and straw bales are for livestock bedding and feed mixes. Approximately 4,000 round bales were made in 2023, of which 3,000 were grass. Most of Jack’s work is in small, irregular shaped fields but even so he has made up to 300 round bales in a day with the Fendt baler.
Soft core hay bales
The XtraCut chopper hasn’t been used, but Jack is pleased to have it. “Because the Fendt baler was a dealer demonstrator, it was equipped with options including the XtraCut chopper,” he explained. “As a contractor, it’s an additional service to offer customers, and it will also add value to the baler when it’s time to update it.
“The baler also has a soft core mode which achieves a softer bale centre while keeping the outer layers firm for weather protection and ease of stacking and handling. It’s proved very successful when baling hay.”
Excellent crop feeding
“We operate within approximately 25 miles’ radius of our base, and although we are in a dry part of the UK in terms of annual rainfall, a lot of our grass baling is on ground with plenty of moisture including The Naze, and the Brightlingsea, Walton and Holland marshes. There is always plenty of grass so swaths are large and haylage yields were particularly high this year, but the baler coped well.
“We bale straw behind several different combines with headers up to 35ft, but the 2.4m pick-up with a crop roller to compress the swath ensures a smooth delivery. The drop-floor protection system wasn’t used once during the whole season, even though some straw swaths were so lumpy that they blocked under the tractor. We have only lowered the floor to clean the baler.”
Jack said that one of the biggest improvements over his previous Welger baler is the Fendt’s in-cab control terminal. This allows almost all the settings to be made from the seat and performance can be optimised on the move. Net-wrap application can be monitored and programmed through the user-friendly display. The baler is also Isobus-compatible although Jack’s current tractor isn’t equipped to take advantage of this feature.
Looking after the baler has proved easy and daily servicing and checks are minimal. An automatic lubrication system keeps the chains oiled and a bank of grease nipples requires one pump of grease every 24 working hours. Loading net rolls is easy and up to three can be carried including the one in use, providing enough capacity for two days’ work.
Since it arrived the baler has been almost completely reliable and minor teething issues were quickly sorted by the TNS workshop team. The baler will be fully serviced by the dealer before next season. “Service Engineer Dean Day is always helpful, and a problem with the lubrication system was quickly sorted through a temporary fix suggested over the phone which kept me working, while a replacement part was ordered and then fitted a few days later,” confirmed Jack.
First point of call
As well as the Fendt baler, Jack also purchased his current Massey Ferguson 6480 Dyna-6 tractor from the TNS team, replacing the tractor he bought with the original Welger baler. “I think TNS is a very good dealer and I enjoy dealing with the sales and service teams, so it’s now my first point of call when anything is needed.
“As a recently established contractor I have to offer a reliable service to customers, and I’m always confident that if problems occur then the service department will get the machine working again quickly. My decision to buy a Fendt baler was based on previous experience of the Welger design as well as confidence in my local Fendt dealer, and I’m 99 per cent certain that when I update the baler again in another two years, then it will be for a similar machine.”