When it came time to update a wheel loader for feeding out hay and handling other odd jobs on the Watts family’s Pingelly and Brookton farms in Western Australia, selecting a suitable SDLG workhorse became a “no-brainer’’.
“We looked at a new Volvo loader too, which is ok for commercial use, but for an extra couple of hundred thousand (dollars), you can invest in something else,’’ Graeme Watts said.
“For $100,000 more you can also buy a second-hand machine with 7000-8000 hours on the clock, but unless it’s commercial, it’s not sensible. They have boom suspension, self-greasing and other features, but they are creature comforts really – you don’t need all the fruit.
“You are always a bit dubious when buying low-cost equipment, but we have been quite impressed and had no real issues with the SDLG.’’
The Watts’ Nimbedilling’ enterprise is a family affair, with Graeme and his wife, Anne, farming with their daughter, Tracey, and her partner, Richard. Son-in-law Jeff Stoney and their daughter, Kate, who farm at Wellstead in the State’s south, lease 1620 hectares of their 2430ha total holding. Jeff and Kate manage a strong cropping program, as well as some cattle and sheep, including a White Suffolk stud, at Wellstead, with cropping and sheep also their focus at Pingelly.
Graeme and Anne, together with Tracey and Richard, mate about 1400 Merino ewes annually as part of a flock of up to 4000 sheep, of which the dry sheep are run at their 405ha Brookton property.
The ewes are joined to Westerdale rams from December for an April-May lambing. Any dry ewes are crossed to White Suffolk terminal sires via Kate’s stud.
The Watts previously used a Komatsu wheel loader for feeding out the hay, but it was retired to the Brookton farm, where it spends some time cleaning up timber, thereby making way for a new SDLG LG946L wheel loader.
Graeme said feeding out hay with a set of forks continues to be the main job for the SDLG, while a rock rake assists with cleaning-up various rocks, trees, rubbish and fence lines in paddocks.
“With the third hydraulic system, we can also run a powered attachment. We run a post-hole digger for fencing across both farms.’’
The SDLG wheel loader, which comes with a 2.3m3 bucket and offers a lift height up to 3.8m, also has demonstrated its strong performance and versatility in numerous other areas.
“It works three to four days each week doing something,’’ Graeme said.
“We’ve also fixed-up sheep yards with it and last summer we did a lot of work on cleaning out dams. Some had two-foot of mud in the bottom, but it handled it with no problems. Our previous wheel loader would have baulked at what we were doing, but the SDLG handled it easily – I was quite impressed. We went into a couple (of dams) gingerly, but the stability was good. I was scared more in the old machine when side-on to a bank. I have never had that with the SDLG.
“If you have got a loader, you tend to use it, even if it’s for changing fluoro globes in the shed.
“When my wife and daughter are in the garden, they request the loader for all the cuttings and weeds, so they can be taken away.’’
The SDLG LG946L wheel loader features a six-cylinder, turbocharged 129kW (173hp) power plant with tropical cooling package and smooth powershift transmission offering two forward and one reverse gears.
It provides minimum fuel consumption of 7 litres per hour from its 160L tank.
“It’s not too bad on the fuel, depending on how hard you work,’’ Graeme said.
With their Pingelly and Brookton properties located 50 kilometres apart, he said they were keen for a loader with a reasonably high transport speed and were well satisfied with the SDLG.
“We can travel at 35-40km/hr with the SDLG, whereas the old loader was about 12km/hr,’’ Graeme said.
“The drawback with some big branded loaders also was overheating and this can be par for the course with loaders, but this SDLG has never got near it (overheating). This one has an oversized radiator and bigger oil cooler.’’
He said the transmission also had performed well and CJD Equipment, which was the national distributor for the SDLG line-up, provided good support and service.
“They came out and did the 100-hour service and we had no hassles. Some others don’t come or can stuff you around, so that was good.’’