A local dairy farming operation in KwaZulu-Natal is now more grateful than ever for joining the Massey Ferguson family due to the cost-effectiveness and wide application of its tractor range. Nick Stubbs and his father have farmed in the Midlands for many years, starting from scratch and facing such challenges as rising interest rates and operational and input costs.
The dairy operation plants maize for cow feed as well as ryegrass, Midland mix, and Kikuyu, explains Nick, who is General Manager of Stubbs Farming Partnership. The latest development is diversifying and expanding into the lucrative avocado farming side of his business.
Stubbs maintains a herd of about 2 500 to 3 000 Holstein cows, predominantly with American genetics. These larger cows produce more milk, with the aim to breed an animal with as high a genetic potential as possible that is also functional and can tolerate the harsh and humid KwaZulu-Natal conditions. “Our aim is for high input and output. We are breeding about a 550 kg animal that gives us an 8 000-litre lactation,” says Nick.
“With cattle feed at a premium, our biggest challenge is trying to find a balance between using expensive feed to drive production versus feeding pasture-based grasses that give us production at a more affordable cost and drives the profitability of our operation,” says Nick. Stubbs sells its milk output to a leading private dairy producer in Mount West that, in turn, processes it into a range of milk-based products.
The MF Global tractor series (MF 4700, 5700 and 6700) is defined by its broad utility of fitting into many different tasks at any farm. In this South African example, the Global series fits the 60kW to 98kw range used predominantly by Stubbs for loader work. These tractors load everything from silage and bales to fertiliser and lime, as well as picking up rocks, mowing pastures, and burning firebreaks. The MF 6711 (83kW) provides sufficient power to pull some of the heavier feed wagons, while its affordability has seen the largescale adoption of the MF tractor range in the Stubbs’ operation. “It has become our ‘go to’ tractor,” explains Nick.
Tractors and Technology in a Dairy Application
In addition, the MF 6711 front loader with guidance is used for precision work such as spreading fertiliser and lime on pastures. The higher horsepower MF 7614 and MF 7615 tractors with guidance equipment are used for the larger tasks. Nick says the move to MF at the Nottingham Road operation was accompanied by adopting Trimble technology. “I think the user platform is a lot easier for drivers to get to grips with because it is similar to using a cellphone.” It also makes it easier for farmworkers who are tractor drivers with less formal education to adapt quickly to the latest technology.
Another major benefit of MF is its fuel economy. This is achieved with the careful design and engineering at the MF factories worldwide. With the price of fuel going up on a monthly basis, farmers want a tractor that is low on consumption and high in output such as torque and RPMs and therefore save on costs.
Nick highlights that smart farming techniques adopted at Stubbs are regular grid sampling of all soils on the lands, which help him determine where and how much corrective measures to apply in terms of fertilisers and lime to boost growth productivity, which then drives milk production. Using all the technologies available from tractors to land and animal management have resulted in him running a highly successful dairy operation.
As much as it is about the MF tractors and the technology and benefits, it is also about the support and backup service Stubbs receives from its local MF dealer. Andrew Nicholson, Manager of Massey Ferguson tractor dealership Farm Maintenance Services (FMS) in Pietermaritzburg, says that customer service is paramount. “I managed to convince Nick to buy his first tractors five years ago, and I am pleased to say there is not another tractor on his farm that is not a red one at the moment.”
“It was an easy decision for us to convert the rest of our fleet to MF,” stresses Nick. “Having been a strong supporter of another brand, moving over to MF impressed us with its reliability. It can do the job, is affordable, and that is what is going to keep us buying Massey Ferguson.”
Nick adds that Stubbs has effectively entered into a partnership with FMS. “We as a customer know that if a tractor is going to be down for any period of time, there will be a replacement unit to keep us going,” says Nick. “Productivity is number one. We do not run extra tractors, so we have to keep our operation running smoothly. We cannot afford any downtime.”
Knowing that Andrew and his team can be at Stubbs at a moment’s notice to perform service or a repair gives Nick peace of mind and allows him to focus on his core business of farming and milking operations. He adds that the combination of MF technology and dealer support makes for a high return on investment at the end of the day.
Andrew concludes: “It is not about what it costs to buy a new tractor. It is not about what it costs to do a 1 000-hour service on a tractor. What it really depends on is what the tractor or implement costs you over 8 000 or 10 000 hours, or however long the lifecycle is meant to be. We work closely with Nick to optimise the lifecycle of all his MF equipment, which ensures that he receives the maximum benefit from his MF fleet and adds to his bottom line at the end of the day.”
This year Massey Ferguson, a worldwide brand of AGCO (NYSE:AGCO), is excited to announce a fresh look for its iconic Triple Triangle logo and its new ‘Born to Farm’ brand identity in celebration of its 175th anniversary. MF has offered farmers around the world straightforward and dependable machines since its inception. Few global brands can claim such a lasting impact in the agricultural industry.
In support of the farming community, Massey Ferguson has an extensive network of over 35 dealers covering the whole of South Africa, catering for parts, service, aftersales and new sales. Potential customers interested in the MF range can obtain all information from www.masseyferguson.co.za. Upon completing the contact form, potential customers will have the video, brochure and dealer contact details sent to their WhatsApp and email within 30 seconds.