Wyke Farms, Wyke Champflower, Bruton, Somerset

Powermix ticks all the boxes for famous cheese producer

Cheesemaking in Somerset has always been a familiar tradition, especially in the famous Cheddar region. However, today there are very few producers with less than ten left in the area. When producing one of the UK’s favorite farmhouse cheddars, Wyke Farms rely on the latest technology and machinery, which includes two Shelbourne Powermix Pro Express feeders to keep their dairy herd fed.Wyke Farm Pics of Roger 001

Covering 1,500 acres around Wyke Champflower in the heart of the Cheddar region, Wyke Farms is far from a small enterprise and has 150 years of experience. Located across three different farms, 1,000 head of cattle produce milk for their own family cheese making. Part-owner Roger Clothier is in charge of the machinery side of operation, including machine selection and maintenance. Reliability and versatility of the products used are a key issue to Mr Clothier, so today the responsibility of keeping these Friesian cows and 700 followers fed every day is down to two 22 cubic metre Powermix Pro Express machines.

The first Powermix feeder was purchased some four years ago to replace an aging K&K machine which had carried out seven years of service prior and was basically worn out. “Reliability issues in addition to problems sourcing parts from the manufacturer meant we needed to find a replacement,” says Mr Clothier. “The Shelbourne machine ticked all the right boxes when it came to replacement.”

Purchased from local dealer Read Agri at Frome, the Powermix Pro is a twin auger, twin axle tub mixer machine which comes in three sizes of 19, 22 and 25 cubic metres, suitable for the largest of dairy herds. Located on Wyke Farms’ doorstep, Read Agri offered a good parts and service back-up which helped to clinch the deal of the 22 cubic metre unit. A second feeder from Shelbourne arrived in 2011 as it was decided one machine was not up to the feeding job in hand. The identical machine was delivered in May and carries out the bulk of the feeding, whilst the older machine is generally used as a back-up.Wyke Farm Pics of Roger 005

The 1,500 acres are divided into 1,100 acres of grass, with Italian Ryegrass for silage with a number of acres of permanent grassland for grazing, while the remaining 400 acres are down to maize. Feeding once a day, the mix generally consists of a 50/50 maize and grass silage, with protein and wheat added as required. With a power requirement of 130ho, the Wyke Farms machines are powered by a 145hp John Deere 6830 which is more than adequate for the operation.

Moving between the farms means 15 to 20 miles of traveling, often fully loaded down rough concrete tracks which the machines have taken in their stride, says Mr Clothier. The only issue that has arisen with the Powermix is the running gear on the older machine which required an overhaul after two years, with the fitment of a number of new parts. However the latest machine has a heavier-duty axle which has stood up well to the demands of the daily feed ‘run’.

When choosing the correct feeder for the job, Wyke Farms had a number of requirements says Mr Clothier. “With three different farms we needed a feeder which could elevate feed into many various shape and size feed troughs,” he explains. “Not only do we need to feed on both the left and right but we also have to elevate the feed to a variety of heights.”

Both Powermix feeders are fitted with the front ‘Express’ conveyor which can be shuttled both to the left and right, in addition to being able to elevate feed to a height of 4’8”, ideal for the majority of feeding situations in Somerset. The wider 3’1” door also provides an excellent view of the mix as it moves onto the webbing conveyor, Mr Clothier adds.Wyke Farm Pics of Roger 009

There has been nothing but praise for the Shelbourne feeders, although Mr Clothier feels that the two-speed gearbox could do with refining. When filled with 10 tonnes of feed, the lower gear is often required to start the mix and when it reaches half-capacity, high can then be selected which is a relatively aggressive change. He hopes that when under load the switch can be made smoother in the future. Additionally he has found that when mixing compound wheat into the load there appears to be a dead spot around the door-way, however this more of a ‘niggle’ rather than a problem and once cleared the mix is excellent he confirms.

When it comes to replacement, Wyke Farms have no issue with replacing with another Shelbourne machine, and the older Powermix will likely stay for the foreseeable future with the latest machine expected to be replaced after two years to ensure the lead feeder is kept up-to-date.

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