The livestock sector may be struggling financially at the moment, but manufacturers at this year’s Livestock Event in Birmingham (8-9 July) had plenty of useful machines to tempt them to put their hands in the pockets.

We take a look at some of the highlights. 

JCB low-profile Loadall

JCB low-profile loadall

©Jonathan Page

JCB had a shorter – but no stockier – version of its 3.6t, 7m 536-70 on display. Designed to cater for those with cramped sheds to negotiate, it sits 16cm lower than the standard model, scraping in under doorways at least 2.3m high.

Rather than just squashing the dimensions of the cabin, the company has rejigged the chassis to accommodate the conventional size cockpit in a lower position so that there’s the usual amount of leg- and elbow-room.

The machine is available in three different spec levels: Agri with a 109hp engine and four-speed transmission; Plus with 125hp or 145hp motors and four-speed box; and Super with 145hp, six-speed powershift and boom suspension.

All have power-saving regenerative hydraulics, pressure dump for the auxiliary hydraulics to make coupling up easier and automatic bucket rattle to shed stubborn muck.

Harry West trailers

Harry West trailer

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Since the launch last year of its new range of high-spec, high-speed trailers, Harry West says interest has been strong – thanks in part to increasing attention from law-enforcement agencies.

The version on display at the Livestock Event was a fully loaded 14t model (16t is the biggest available) with commercial axles, air-brakes and electronic ABS.

By employing a digital sensing system, the set-up can also be used to record the weight of each load and send it direct to a smartphone via Bluetooth.

Depending on spec, prices start from £17,000 for a 14-tonner, with silage sides adding another £2,600.

Trioliet shear-bucket

Triolet shear grab

©Jonathan Page

Dutch firm Trioliet had a monster shear-bucket on show that is designed to minimise wastage at the clamp face by cutting as wide as possible a slice of material with each chomp of its undershot jaws.

To avoid the lifting effect that tends to allow air into silage when loading out with a normal grab or bucket, the bottom blade is set well back so that the attachment only takes 45cm deep bites back into the clamp.

Wider, shallower cuts result in less spoilage.

Tipping the scales at 1.25t, the smallest 2.2cu.m, £10,000 model needs a loader weighing at least 7t to lift it and the biggest 6cu m, 2.75t version is rated to carry more than 10t.

Its jaws open to an awe-inspiring 8.5m (28ft), according to Trioliet.

Wynnstay fans mean cool cows

Wynnstay fan

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High-level fans and decent lighting may not sound the most exciting things in the livestock world, but according to Shropshire-based Wynnstay they can give an extra 1,000 litres a cow.

Farmers must be pretty convinced, since the firm has sold the US-made fans and lights to more than 200 farms in the past two years.

A typical 1.8m-diameter Cyclone unit costs between £3,500 and £3,800, and running costs range from 300kWh in winter to 2.2kWh in summer.

In fact Wynnstay says that some farms have paid back the cost in reduced electricity bills in just six months.

Wynnstay also launched its Wynvac vacuum-on-demand variable-frequency drive (VFD) for milking parlours, which can slow the vacuum from the normal 50 cycles to just 20.

The aim is to cut fluctuations, and thereby somatic cell counts, by being so accurate. 

Other makers offer VFDs but Wynnstay reckons its units – developed with US firm Schneider – are well-priced at between £2,500 and £4,000 depending on spec. 

Butler Gold feed pusher 

A green Butler Gold feed pusher

© Jonathan Page

North Yorkshire farmer Tim Butler took the opportunity to show the latest feed pusher from Austrian manufacturer Wasserbauer.

Unlike previous versions it doesn’t need to run on rails, and instead is guided by 4mm magnets set in the concrete.

It does a circuit, then automatically parks itself on to the charger. 

Rather than pushing the silage to one side (like rival machines), the machine uses a large 75cm-wide rubber auger to flick excess feed back to the barrier.

Two 12V gel batteries provide the power.  

The weight of the unit is 70kg and there’s a fair helping of high-tech in terms of remote operation via a smartphone.

Suitable for herds up to 250 cows, it costs £14,000.

Shelbourne Reynolds 3200 muckspreader

Shelbourne powerspread Pro 3200

©Jonathan Page

This set of rear-steering axles on the back of a Shelbourne Reynolds 3200 muckspreader may not be new but the change in road rules is making this sort of equipment increasingly important.

Why? Well, having dual wheels reduces wheel loading below the essential 9t/axle threshold and the full suspension gives good manoeuvrability and less scrubbing when shunting around the farmyard.

It also makes a much nicer ride for the tractor driver, says the company, and four-wheel braking reduces the drama of sudden stops.

The passive rear steering also automatically centralises itself when you start to reverse.

A natty anti-bridging arm, which stops slurry getting set and refusing to budge, is also available.  

This model carries 5.25t (or 3,200gal). Base cost is £32,118 and adding the steering tandem axles and sprung axle adds an extra £3,130.

RS Agri cubicle cleaner

RS Agri cubicle cleaner

©Jonathan-Page

UK manufacturer RS Agri has been making pedestrian-controlled cubicle cleaners for a while, but the firm has now added a sit-on version for bigger herds.

A 9.5hp Kubota diesel provides power for the rear-wheel drive, giving a tight 3m turning circle.

It is an all-hydraulic set-up, with a variable speed pedal. The 480-litre version is soon to be followed by a 630-litre one.

A hydraulically operated arm swings out to clean the cubicle. A hopper load of feed does 200 cubicles and the price-tag is £12,000.

Read more news from the Livestock Event 2015