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An Essex farmer and contractor has just completed his first full season with an upgraded round baler to meet increased demand from customers. Trading... Essex farm contractor upgrades to new baler

An Essex farmer and contractor has just completed his first full season with an upgraded round baler to meet increased demand from customers.

Trading as J Byford Agricultural Contracting, Jack Byford started offering his contract baling service in 2020 from his based near Clacton. He has built up a good customer base and business is expanding.

Mr Byford previously worked on a large livestock farm in the area where much of the summer was spent baling – and was guaranteed plenty of work in his new venture making bales for his old employer.

Starting out on his own, he purchased an ageing Welger RB435 and Massey Ferguson tractor. Both machines performed well, with the Welger making hay, haylage, silage and straw bales but a larger baler soon became necessary.

Fendt Rotana round balers continue to retain the original Welger design with some additional improvements – so Mr Byford approached Thurlow Nunn Standen to check on prices and availability.

Good dealership

“There are plenty of good dealers nearer to us than the TNS Melton depot which looks after most of our machinery,” says Mr Byford, who purchased an ex-demonstration Rotana 180V with an XtraCut chopper.

As well as the Rotana, Mr Byford owns a Welger conventional small baler which operates with a flat-10 bale accumulator making hay bales for equestrian use. The Rotana 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.

About 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.

The XtraCut chopper hasn’t been used, but Mr Byford says he is pleased to have it.

“Because the Fendt baler was a dealer demonstrator, it was equipped with options including the XtraCut chopper. 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. 

Crop feeding

“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.”

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.

“We operate within about 25 miles of our base and there is always plenty of grass so swaths are large and haylage yields were particularly high this year – but the baler coped admirably 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.”


A big improvement over the previous baler is the Fendt’s in-cab control terminal, says  Mr Byford. 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 three can be carried providing enough capacity for two days’ work.

Since it arrived, the baler has been almost completely reliable. Any minor teething issues were quickly sorted by the TNS team. The baler will again be fully serviced before next season.

Quickly sorted

“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.”

Mr Byford has also purchased a Massey Ferguson 6480 Dyna-6 tractor from TNS. “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% certain that when I update the baler again in another two years, it will be for a similar machine.”