Test: HISpec XCEL 1250

Farmer Trader heads to Matamata to test out the highs and lows of the HiSpec XCEL 1250 spreader, recently purchased by contractor Phil Hawke

No place in the world is quite like New Zealand, with our fantastic scenery and climate for farming (most of the time).

However, Mother Nature’s weather bombs are still part of life here in New Zealand and farmers have are now used to the unexpected.

One thing there’s no uncertainty about is the efficiency of the HiSpec Xcel 1250 spreader, which Matamata contractor Phil Hawke recently purchased from Giltrap Agrizone.

The HiSpec range has been sold by Giltrap Agrizone for the last two years. The range is popular with farmers and contractors, respected for its robust build and high-quality finish.

Although I said there is nowhere like New Zealand, one place that does boast some similarities in climate and farming conditions is Ireland, where HiSpec machines originate.

Like New Zealanders, the Irish have a passion for well-made equipment, with a reputation for reliability and the ability to get the job done as efficiently as possible.

From a machinery dealer’s perspective, Giltrap Agrizone brand product manager Jarred L’Amie says HiSpec is great to deal with, as being family-owned, he can communicate directly with owner James Nolan and the HiSpec engineering staff. It also means that discussing any special requests is a straightforward process.

Suggestions for change or improvements are always welcomed by the HiSpec team, who value input towards improving and refining machinery design.

The test

Back -trailer

Based in Hinuera, Phil Hawke Contracting covers all usual ag contracting work: cultivation, planting, hay, silage, and maize.

Alongside these main jobs, he also provides services to local farmers outside of peak season, helping to manage effluent with a Giltrap slurry tanker and, until recently, an Abbey muck spreader.

A key feature of his new HiSpec Xcel1250 is capacity, which he reckons is about 40% more than he was able to do previously.

Spinner -fins

The rubber seals at the front and rear hold liquids without losing half the load between loading and spreading, which is important to Phil, as he will use this machine to spread effluent from weeping wall setups.

This will provide extra work for the business throughout the year, particularly in early spring before cropping and cultivation to give a boost to those paddocks.

The other positive for Phil is the unique flail design of the shredding rotor at the back. Most other muck spreaders use either twin vertical or horizontal auger spreaders.

Fail -system

These work fine until you try to spread a concrete post or tyres or whatever else makes its way into spreader unseen, potentially costing both time and dollars to repair.

The machine was purchased in March this year, and since then, driver Ollie Hawke has spread weeping wall/solid effluent slurry, chicken litter and goat barn material. The day I caught up with the team, we put through some topsoil to check on spread pattern.

It gave a great spread, with a rough measurement of spread at around 25m. Ollie says, generally, he would work on around 16 to 18m for chicken litter, and with slurry being heavier, he’d expect around 24m.


Floor -chains

I was impressed with the construction of the Xcel spreader. Muck spreading is never usually an easy job, but this unit is made to handle whatever is thrown in it. With a 4mm wall, 5mm floor, and 12mm Hardox rotor flails, it’s durable and strong.

The 14mm twin floor chains and 22 16mm rotor chains enable the operator to smash up whatever you’ve loaded and provide an even material consistency. Options are also available to customise the spreader for different applications.


Operation of the HiSpec Xcel spreader is straightforward. Hooked up to one of Phil’s Fendt 818 tractors, power was no problem on the flat paddocks we were in.

However, with a weight of 6.8 tonnes empty and 12 tonnes loaded, tractor weight and power could be more important working on hilly country. 

To get under way, simply select the PTO speed of 1000. The PTO drives the rear spinners as well as the shredding rotor.

Rear -gear -boxes

All gearboxes are rated to 200hp. Two hydraulic outlets are required for operation: one for the floor and the other for the rear door height to control flow of material to the rear spreaders. This requires the most practice.

The surprising design aspect of this machine is that with the anti-clockwise rotation of the shredding rotor, most of the material has to be lifted and thrown against the rear Hardox cover/door before dropping onto the spreader plates. I think this is a big factor in the accuracy of the spread achieved.

The four spreading vanes use a simple shear bolt system to provide protection in case of a blockage. There is manual adjustment of the rear door to alter/optimise spread pattern. Previous to this model, HiSpec used a four-floor system.

In this model, they have gone back to a two-chain system on the edges with box section to improve spread pattern. The hydraulic floor drive has an accumulator/pressure relief system to prevent damage. Slightly different from factory is the addition of electric floor control fitted to machines in New Zealand.

One of the main jobs for daily operation is checking chain tension. This is done at the front of the machine and should they require adjustment, the necessary tool is mounted on the machine close at hand.

Lab -minder

Convenient grease bank and auto lube for the chain drive of the shredding rotor are mounted on the left rear side, making servicing requirements simple. Should you need to get into the shredding rotor area for any reason, a double chain and hooks can be hooked to the rear door to lift the 500kg rear Hardox door.


There are a number of extras you can opt for with this HiSpec spreader. Phil has chosen the four-load cell Digi Star weigh unit that’s great for minimising overloading.

Ollie says they work well and with a good clean out of the body, the scales are within 5 to 10kg. The sprung draw bar option is currently not available with the load cells fitted, but they are looking at a design change to accommodate both. If you want to increase capacity, hungry boards may be an option.

The current loading height is 2.25m, which is no problem with your standard tractor and would still be fine with the extra 200 to 300mm hungry boards. Tyre options are another consideration. Standard tyres are 580/70 R38, with an option of 650/75 R32.

The possibility of a second axle is not available at the moment but would be a good option to spread the weight further to minimise compaction on wet soils. Brakes are standard on NZ HiSpec Xcel spreaders and air brakes can be fitted as an extra.

About HiSpec

About -highspec

At this stage, HiSpec is a small fish in quite a big machinery pond in New Zealand. The company was established in 1988 in County Carlow in Ireland. It has a large presence on farms throughout the country as well as in the UK and the rest of the EU.

Being a family-owned company, HiSpec places high importance on its people as well as producing innovative equipment. The business manufactures both vertical and horizontal mixer wagons as well as a wide range of slurry equipment.

Included in the range are two-side discharge spreaders (800 and 1000), which would be suitable as a farmer machine, and the Xcel 1250 rear discharge machine suitable for larger farms and contractors.

The innovative spreading rotor is leading to strong demand for these machines with two rolling off the production line each week along with production of the rest of the HiSpec range.


I found little to fault the HiSpec Xcel 1250 spreader. It possibly requires an extra axle and set of tyres as an option to offset the built like the brick outhouse construction that is going to last for years. Otherwise, it ticks all boxes.

As I said before, there is no place in the world like New Zealand, but these Irish-built HiSpec muck spreaders are finding a market here, helping spread valuable nutrients back on the land to keep things growing.

So New Zealand farmers can keep feeding healthy sustainable products and produce to the growing population of the world.

HiSpec Xcel 1250 specifications

Capacity: 12 tonnes

Spread width: 22–24m

Unladen weight: 22–24m

Standard tyres: 58070/R38

PTO speed: 1000rpm

Floor chains: 2x14mm

Floor/wall thickness: 5mm/4mm

Dimensions: #

Length: 7.75m

Width: 3.06m

Height: 3.085m

Body: 4.505m

Loading height: 2.25m


  • Innovative chain spreading rotor
  • A1 build quality
  • Well sealed for handling 
  • wet material (for a chain floor system)
  • Accurate spread pattern 
  • Good clean out of material


  • Possibility of twin-steering axle option
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