Based just outside Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford, brothers Bill and Val, along with Val’s son Sean, milk 360 cows and also have a tillage operation.
Bill and Val Cummins have been milking and tillage farming in partnership since the 1980s. In 2014, Val’s son Sean decided to come home and join the team with the main aim of progressing the family dairy enterprise.
Since then, the family team has focused on increasing production within the dairy herd. Today the men are milking in the region of 360 cows.
This increase in production steadily put the existing farm machinery under pressure, with jobs such as feeding via tractor and front loader taking longer and longer. Earlier this year, the decision was made to go down the route of buying a loader of some kind to make daily tasks easier.
“Until buying the telehandler, we had been using the Case IH Maxxum 110 and front loader, which, to be fair, did all we asked of it. We wanted to speed up jobs around the farm, especially the jobs in the yard over winter, such as loading the diet feeder and feeding bales. While a tractor and front loader might be a more multipurpose tool, a wheel loader just does as its name suggests, and to some degree it’s more of a luxury. Moving to a wheel loader gave us the scope to upgrade to a larger grab and potentially buy other attachments at some point to save time and labour,” Bill said.
Initially, the jury was out on whether to go down the route of a telehandler or a pivot-steer loader. Bill said he liked the centralised seating position of the articulated machine, but having explored both types, he found himself leaning towards the telehandler concept.
He did say that the Weidemann pivot-steer would have been the machine of choice if they had gone down that route.
The telehandler, he said, ticked more boxes, especially in terms of cab access, telescopic reach and its lower overall cab height. Bill pointed out that before buying the New Holland, he had looked at a couple of secondhand telehandlers – JCB and Case IH machines to be exact.
After weighing up all his options, Bill said that it made the best sense to buy a new machine for two reasons. Firstly, for no fear of buying another man’s problems and, secondly, dealer backup, which was the main attraction. In the event of an issue ever arising, the reassurance of a reliable dealer backup service was important.
New Holland TH6.32 S
Bill liked the Case IH telehandler he had seen on his previous travels, particularly for its strength and build quality. Considering both New Holland and Case IH are CNH subsidiaries, its telehandlers are almost identical. With New Holland dealer Murphy Motors nearby, Bill priced a new machine. A deal was soon struck on a TH6.32 S model.
Earlier this year, Bill and the team took delivery of their TH6.32 S telehandler. The TH6.32 model is the entry-level machine within the TH range, available in two specifications – S and Classic. It offers a maximum telescopic reach of 6.1m and a maximum lift capacity of 3,200kg.
Only available on the 6.32 and 7.32 models, the S specification is a more basic offering designed for the budget-focused operator or those not requiring huge hydraulic capacity or an array of added features.
The most notable differences between the S and Classic models includes the slightly reduced hydraulic flow of 20l/min from 140l/min (Classic) to 120l/min and an open rear differential as opposed to front and rear LSD differentials on the Classic or higher-specification Plus and Elite machines.
However, Bill explained that they had no real need for a high-specification machine, considering the bulk of its work is general yard duties and that the S model was still ahead in terms of hydraulics of the tractor and loader.
Engine and transmission
The TH6.32 S is fitted with the same 4.5l FPT engine as New Holland’s T6 tractors. This four-pot stage IV setup churns out a rated 121hp, as does the rest of the model range apart from the three Elite machines which churn out a rated 131hp. As engine speeds drop to 1,800rpm, these figures climb to 133hp and 146hp respectively.
The layout and accessibility within the engine bay was a major attraction for Bill, as everything can be accessed from all angles at ground level. Although a reversible fan is available on the Classic model, Bill felt that it wasn’t something he needed on his machine.
Transferring power to the ground is the 4F x 3R Carraro powershift transmission. This full-time 4wd box has a maximum forward speed of 34km/h. As with most telehandlers, Bill’s machine has three steering modes – front and rear, front only or crab steer.
He explained that having gotten used to the machine after changing from a tractor and front loader, that there was a big improvement in terms of manoeuvrability about the farm and the time it took to do particular jobs. The loader is also fitted with Carraro axles, the front equipped with an LSD and rear an open differential, both of which have oil-immersed disc brakes.
The cab is a nice environment, according to Bill, with great all-round visibility. Given that the loader is the S model, controls are left simple, with no fancy extras. The majority of functions, including boom and linkage movement, third service and gear shift buttons, are all located on the joystick, which is fixed to the right-hand console.
A slight negative Bill noted about the cab was with the door.
“When closing the door, you’ve to give it a good hard push or it’ll not close properly. I’m not sure if it’s the pressurised cab and that the air can’t escape when closing the door or what it is.
“Another thing is the half-door, when latching it round, it just doesn’t latch in simply itself. You sometimes have to twist the latch for it to catch and stay open.”
One thing Bill did say if he had his time buying the machine again, he would opt for the LED lighting package over the standard halogen work lights.
Hydraulics and headstock
As mentioned previously, the TH6.32 model as its name suggests has a maximum reach of 6.1m and lift capacity of 3,200kg. Powering the boom is the 120l/min gear pump, which provides 90l/min auxiliary oil flow.
The Classic and higher specification models are fitted with a 140l/min variable displacement piston pump.
Hydraulic oil level is easily checked via the sight glass at the rear of the machine. For all applications on the Cummins’ farm to date, hydraulic flow has been plenty, given that the loader’s main daily jobs at the moment are loading the Strautmann diet feeder with a new 7ft ProDig tine grab or feeding with the Tanco I73 baler shears.
Bill has the machine fitted with a quick-release third-service coupler, which he feels is a good addition, mainly to speed up the interchanging of implements. The boom is fitted with retraction and extension dampeners to protect and prevent shock to itself and the operator.
Although not specified on this particular machine, boom suspension and a hydraulic circuit pressure release features are available.
Having made the switch to a telehandler away from a tractor and loader, Bill and the rest of the Cummins team are happy with how the telehandler has performed so far.
“Although the tractor and loader did the job, it’s hard to beat the comfort of a purpose-built machine.
“Once you get used to the side-mounted cab and the front and rear steering, you can almost work the machine anywhere. The extended lift height is a comfort too. We recently bought a larger grab and silage pusher for it, which has reduced time and manual labour massively.
“A cage is also on the way, so any jobs at heights can now be done more safely and easily,” Bill explained.