Reviews

Hustler SL360X bale feeder review

Check out this review of the Hustler SL360X bale feeder from the March 2016 issue (#228) of Farm Trader magazine.

One of the main reasons I love this job is that I get to test Kiwi-made gear that is so impressive, the manufacturers and designers have found solutions to problems that most people didn’t even know were problems.

We rave on about how well-made European gear is (and it is) but when it comes to no nonsense solutions for Kiwi farmers you’d be hard-pressed to find better than New Zealand-made.

The all new SL360X replaces the SL350 and after testing it I believe it’s the best round bale feeder on the market. There are a number of features which allow this to be the case but as a result, it will not be the cheapest. However, with one of these bad boys, you’ll never again smash the back window of the tractor when opening it to pull a cord.

This Hustler SL360X absolutely fits with my motto: Quality remains long after the price is forgotten.

Key changes

The most significant change for me is the ‘Snaplox’ system which is the hands-free auto-connect/disconnect loading system. This will save a bit of time but the best bit is it eliminates the need to open the back window or have a rope that drags on the mucky race which you then have to pull back in the cab.

This system works very well as it has dual latches (on each end) and with a high mounting point on both sides of the feeder, this takes the load of the cradle and removes any load from the bale spears. How it works is that the feet slide up when the cradle touches the ground which pushes the rod up to lift the latches off the catch. The exact opposite happens when it is lifted to lock in place.

Uneven ground doesn’t affect it as the feet will still push up enough to unlatch. The rod which pushes up the catches is a tricky little number which goes both up and down and forward and back which means it can’t be falsely tripped if you hit a bump while transporting the feeder around the races and paddock.

Another key change with this new model is the floor of the feeder. Made from Thermoform polyethylene (plastic), it cleverly wraps around the floor and extends over the drive-shaft on each side. This has many benefits, including the fact it completely covers the shafts, which eliminates wrapping.

SL360X_12

The new feeder is also equipped with two 12,000lb roller chains. With the heavy-duty rollers and pins and the greater surface on each roller pin, this will no doubt increase chain life because they can’t stretch or snake causing them to jump off.

With the new machine, bales are teased out with 40mm box section galvanised bars. Bars are bolted to the chain, making them both stronger and easier to replace. For different bale types blank bars or bars with more aggressive teeth are available, simply unbolt the old and whack the new ones on without having to break the chain. Chain tensioners also allow you to adjust should the need arise.

The verdict

The SL360X was a very impressive machine due to the high level of ingenuity and the fact Hustler has taken time to listen to its customers and extensively test the machine before presenting it to the market – all in all it has come up a real doosey.

If you are in the market for a bale feeder, you’d be silly not to check this one out.

Pros

  • No need for ropes to latch and unlatch the cradle.
  • Heavy duty 12,000Ib roller chain.
  • Thermoform polyethylene floor reduces drag by 30% over steel meaning those difficult bales are easier to turn.
  • Shafts are completely covered to eliminate feed wrapping around them.
  • Bearings are mounted outside the cradle and are covered.
  • Drive motor is well protected from a collision with the rear wheel.
  • Uneven forged tines allow you to stab the bale to load with the rear linkage and make it very easy to line up the cradle on uneven ground.
  • Mounting points are bolted onto the headstock, can be moved 180mm either way for feeding into troughs or removed and loader brackets can be fitted.
  • Front and rear gates are available to contain material allowing maize or fodder beet to be fed through the bale feeder.
  • Can hitch and feed from either end.

Cons

  • A hole or slot in the guide cover to oil the roller chain would be a handy addition to ensure longevity.

Read the full test in the latest issue of Farm Trader magazine. Subscribe here.

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