Reviews

Review: Hustler EZFeed SM130

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Iconic New Zealand brand Hustler keeps on innovating, and the updated Hustler EZfeed SM130 is a testament to the brand’s dedication

Although winter is traditionally the period when feed supply doesn’t match demand, depending on your farming system (and what appears to be increasingly unpredictable

weather patterns), you may already have been in the thick of feeding out for some time to manage summer drought. For many, this has continued to have a serious impact through autumn with no relief in forecasts.

Whatever the situation, having the right equipment to get the job done efficiently is a key factor. New Zealand company Hustler has one of the largest ranges of feedout equipment available, including a wide range of bale feeders, loader attachments, combi feeders, and the traditional silage wagon, which is what we’re looking at this month.

With left and right feeding options, this wagon is equally at home feeding out in barns, feed pads, or the paddock

Having entered the silage wagon market a few years back with the purchase of South Island-based Robertson Engineering, initial machines continued to be built to the high standards set by the Robertson machines, although in the distinctive Hustler green colourway rather than original Robertson red.

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A sturdy ladder for access to the body of the wagon

Since then, Hustler has continued to evolve the feedout wagon, as it does with all machine design under its brand, ensuring every small detail meets with the demands of what New Zealand farmers want and need in a modern, functional silage wagon. Designed to give years of trouble-free service, Hustler has more sense than trying to reinvent the wheel and has focused on any points where improvement could be made through updated design, quality components, and manufacturing. The Hustler EZfeed SM130 silage wagon, which sits at the lower end of the range capacity-wise, is still built to the same spec and quality as the larger EZfeed wagons.

Operation

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Central grease bank ensures no hard-to-reach points are missed

As the name EZfeed suggests, this range of silage wagons from Hustler is exactly that. Not all farmers are machinery people, and some farm workers are best suited to looking after animals rather than driving tractors. This feedout machine is ideal for such farms.

Using a single double-acting set of remotes, it’s easy to hook up if using one tractor to load and feed. Once it’s hooked up, you only have to worry about one control, simply starting and stopping feed through the hydraulic lever or switch.

To control the speed of the feed, you can alter either the hydraulic flow from the tractor or this can also be done on the machine, as it will restrict the tractor’s hydraulic flow rate. To cater for this, Hustler has made a tidy cover on the front of the wagon. Within this compartment (which protects components from the weather and falling debris) is the hydraulic flow valve as well as a second valve with a handle to change the direction of the side feed conveyor and allow feeding to the left or right of the machine.

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The upgraded EZfeed enables feeding from both the left and right side

While this is something mixer wagons with conveyors have been able to do for some time, it’s not something silage wagons have traditionally had the ability to do.

Hustler has released a patented auto-change option for those who often want to switch feeding directions. This option comes with a hydraulic side-shift function for the feed conveyor. When it’s shifted, the feeding direction automatically switches to the side that the conveyor is extended towards. This also improves feed placement making for a very natural operation.

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Hydraulic valves and electronics are kept clean and dry underneath a cover at the front of the wagon

With feed pads and herd home-type situations becoming more common on many farms, the ability to feed either side is a major asset in tighter feed areas. The primary function of these machines is to feed bulk supplement, be that grass silage or maize from a stack. Layering feeds and adding minerals is possible, although, accuracy with this is not going to be as good as a mixer wagon, but it definitely can be done.

The difference in the ongoing cost of ownership of a mixer wagon versus a silage wagon is huge. Built strong enough, you can still feed baleage through these EZfeed wagons if you don’t have another option.

In terms of daily operation, as it’s hydraulically driven, there are no PTO shafts and joints to grease. Better yet, the sealed bearings used by Hustler on the EZfeed wagons come standard, set up on remote grease banks, saving climbing in and over the machine searching for them and still ending up missing some.

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A range of tyre options to suit different farm conditions

Build and construction

Silage wagons have proved popular over time for getting large quantities of bulk feed fed efficiently with minimal hassle. In saying that, the silage wagon design has remained almost the same for a long time. The last big development is probably the change from centre feed to side conveyors.

However, with this latest range of silage wagons, released in 2023, Hustler has left no stone unturned in terms of design, making several changes and improvements to allow even greater reliability, ease of use, and overall longevity.

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The unique uni-body design comes scale-ready

In the past, floors of silage wagons were either steel or tongue and groove timber. Both options have pluses and minuses, so Hustler has opted for a puck floor, designed to handle impacts and not be affected by silage and weather.

Using 12,000Lb roller chain throughout should almost do away with the downtime of stretched chains coming off sprockets (this only usually happens when you already have too much to do for the day). The main floor bars are full-width and bolt into the holes of the roller chain. The tapered bottom edge of the body of the wagon keeps the sprockets and chains out of the feed preventing feed from building up and causing issues.

The unique uni-body design comes scale-ready
The rotomolded hungry boards are designed to handle unexpected impact

To ensure the longevity and reliability of the EZfeed range of wagons, Hustler uses the same box section feed bars and roller chain system for the side-fed conveyor. While this option is initially more expensive, it eliminates the ongoing cost of replacement belts and the potential issues with belts not tracking right.

With bolt-on bars, it would be easy enough to have a couple on hand in case one gets bent. Simply unbolt and replace, and you’ll be back up and running in no time. The new rotomolded hungry boards are designed to take a beating, without smashing during the first mishap with the loader.

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A full 13 cubic metre load on the EZfeed

Scales

Hustler wagons use a uni-body design, allowing any wagon to be fitted with scales either from the factory or retro-fitted. I believe scales are an essential bit of kit to know how much you’re feeding your animals. Underfeeding or overfeeding can have significant impact on production and budgets. Scales make sure each mob gets the right allocation when feeding more than one mob/wagon. Hustler’s Feedlink scale has a wireless in-cab display and can function either connected to the feedout tractor or on the jack stand, which with its large foot, doubles as a foot for use with a quick hitch.

Models

Ranging from the SM110 (11 cubic metre capacity) up to the SX210 (21 cubic metre capacity) machines, the EZfeed range of silage wagons has a wagon to suit most farm types and operations.

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An aerial view of happy cows following the Hustler EZfeed wagon

What I like most about this range is the high-spec level across all models. From the smallest to the largest, you get almost all the same features: the roller chains and bar feed systems, the impact-resistant rotomolded hungry boards, and central grease banks as standard. You can choose tyre options to suit your environment and add a weigh system,
if desired.

Design features worth celebrating include the high ground clearance and smooth underside (to avoid getting caught on electric fence wires), as well as the tapered drawbar, which provides strength and delivers optimal turning ability without catching the tractor wheels on the drawbar. All the well-thought-out design features you look for in a silage wagon
can be found in this range Hustler range of wagons.

Summary

It’s hard to change a tried-and-tested design, however, I think Hustler has nailed it with the latest updates to the EZfeed range of wagons. Although the models are not the cheapest on the market for their size, the quality of the build and some of the new features justify the price. These models have everything in their favour to run trouble-free for years.

Hustler EZFeed SM130 Specifications

Capacity13–14 cubic metres of silage
Tare weight3800kg
Maximum load10,000kg
Tyres400/60 15.5R flotation grip tread
AxleTandem walking beam
BrakesOptional 2/4 wheel hydraulic
Weigh scalesOptional feedlink wireless system
Floor chains12,000lb roller chains
Hydraulics required1x double-acting remote
Hydraulic flow required50–70L/min
Tow eye50mm hitch
Dimensions (LxWxH)7050 x 2800 x 2710mm

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