Thursday, August 22, 2019

Pig farmer chooses tractor reliability over sophistication

May 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Machinery

Comfort, reliability and fuel economy were high on the list of essential features when Norfolk pig farmer Paul Batterham chose a new tractor for his livestock enterprise.

Based at Bagthorpe Farms, near Fakenham, the Bawsey Pig company operates across 40ha of rented land on which it produces 300 120kg liveweight organic pigs every week – reared on contract for BQP and Waitrose.

Sandy abrasive soils can cause havoc with machinery wear and tear, says Mr Batterham – particularly when it comes to bearings and oil seals. This means well-built, robust and simple-to-operate tractors can only be used on the farm, he adds.

The farm’s tractor fleet includes two McCormicks, one Deutz-Fahr and a JCB Telehandler. The 6 Series Deutz-Fahr Agrotron 6155.4 tractor purchased through local dealer Johnsons of Fakenham is the most recent addition to the machinery portfolio.

Build and performance

“I have been impressed with the superior build quality and performance of our Deutz-Fahr,” says Mr Batterham.

“My main operator says it is reliable and is easy to operate and maintain. Simple operation is important to us because the role of the tractor is relatively uncomplicated compared to large arable enterprises or some mixed farming operations.

“We don’t need all the electronics for example that some tractor manufacturers offer but we won’t compromise on operator comfort. It’s the small detail like door knobs, mud guards and seat that always let our old tractor down.”

With Mr Batterham’s tractor specification in mind, the most appropriate model in the Deutz-Fahr range was the 6155.4 Powershift. This is the entry level option in what is an extensive range including the RCShift and TTV with robotised and CVT transmissions respectively.

The company’s Deutz-Fahr operator is Tracey Ireland who takes great pride in her tractor, and maintains it to a high standard. In the long run, Mr Batterham says this factor inevitably helps to keep the repair costs down to a minimum.


Local dealer Johnsons demonstrated the Deutz-Fahr in January at the point where Mr Batterham was looking to replace the existing three year old McCormick that had clocked up 3500 hours.

“In my experience, keeping a tractor longer than three years old or with more than 3500 hours on the clock will start to break down. Tractor reliability is key in our trade,” he says.

The Deutz-Fahr is charged with pulling the pig trailer from the field to the loading bay at Bagthorpe in the early hours every Thursday, where lorry drivers wait to take the pigs to the abattoir.  The tractor is also tasked with pulling an 8t feed cart for three days each week, which involves delivering about 75t of organic feed/week to around 120 feeding stations.

The operator is constantly getting in and out of the cab so ease of access is an important consideration. When the tractor is not being used to pull the feed trailer, it has a front end loader fitted for strawing up.

“Despite being higher horse power than the tractor it replaced, our 6 Series Deutz-Fahr Agrotron has excellent fuel economy,” says Mr Batterham. “We just want a reliable, cost effective and easy to operate tractor and at the moment we feel that we get that assurance from the 6 Series.”