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Meeting the challenge of feed self-sufficiency

“We’ve had MF tractors here ever since I can remember,” says Anthony Thomas of Gadlys Farm, Glynogwr near Bridgend. “Our current line-up includes an MF 5608, MF 6616 and MF 5713 SL.”

Anthony’s family has been farming this 248ha of Welsh pasture and mountainside for generations. Having taken over from his parents, he now owns and operates the enterprise in partnership with his wife Annabel.

Gadlys Farm is fully-focused on livestock, running more than 1000 ewes and 40 Hereford/Friesian cross suckler cows. The major job of lambing takes place at the end of March/beginning of April, producing an annual average of around 1500 lambs. Construction of a big sheep shed for winter housing of the 1000 ewes is one of the family’s most recent investments. A further useful source of income is provided by a wind farm of eleven 2.5 megawatt turbines.

“Our challenges here are the weather and the topography of the land,” Anthony explains. “The farm comprises 80ha of fields and 168ha of mountain ground, and the land ranges from 700ft to 1500ft above sea-level. Obviously, we have to deal with a lot of steep ground and if it’s very wet it can be difficult to get onto the land.”

Another challenge is to grow enough feed. “Our aim is to be totally self-sufficient in winter feed for which we produce silage (around 1100 wrapped bales pa), hay and haylage,” he comments. “To do this, we look to make three cuts each season on most of the land. With 2018 being so dry, we didn’t make our last cut this year until the very end of September.”

The MF tractors, all bought new from local MF dealer Brodyr Evans at Cross Hands, provide the muscle for the farm. The 185 max hp MF 6616 Dyna-6 is the main workhorse. Fitted with a front linkage, it operates with front- and rear–mounted mowers and also a front-mounted topper.

“The MF 6616 is compact but with plenty of power,” Anthony remarks. “We fit it with twin wheels at the front and rear. The power-to-weight ratio is very good and it feels very stable on our steep ground. The tractor is so simple to use that any one of us – me, my wife or our two full-time employees - can jump on it and get the job done.”

“It’s very good on fuel too. Recently I cut over 12 ha of silage (with mowers front and rear), baled and wrapped it on just one tank of fuel.”

“Dyna-6 is such a great gearbox. There’s a big overlap of gears and it delivers smooth, seamless changing. I also like the speedmatching feature, while Autodrive is excellent for roadwork.”

Speedmatching automatically selects the correct Dynashift ratio in respect of forward speed when changing gear or range. Autodrive enables the operator to select the engine speed at which the transmission will automatically upshift and downshift according to load.

For loader work, the 130 max hp MF 5713 SL featuring a sloping bonnet, Visio Roof and equipped with an MF 956 loader comes into its own, working in the sheep shed where it moves bales and loads the straw chopper. In the summer, it gets involved in bale handling, raking and tedding. The 85 max hp MF 5608, also with sloping bonnet, works with a straw chopper/feeder inside the sheep shed and carries out summertime raking, tedding and rolling.

“The big advantage of the MF 5608 and MF 5713 SL are their tremendous visibility,” Anthony adds.

“We get on very well with our dealer Brodyr Evans and have a strong loyalty to the MF brand,” he remarks. “I love what I do. I couldn’t sit in an office all day. I really wouldn’t want to do anything else for a living.”

"The big advantage of the MF 5608 and MF 5713 SL are their tremendous visibility"