Test: Hustler EzFeed SM130

By: Jaiden Drought


The Hustler EzFeed wagon is proving a hit with farmers around the country. Farm Trader NZ takes a closer look.

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Beautiful, tidy windrows are achieved with chain and bar set-up, thanks to Hustler’s clever design

From early beginnings (1961) in a humble shed developing the first Hustler sprayer and hydraulic rams through to the plethora of machines Hustler ships globally today, this thriving Kiwi business remains 100% New Zealand-owned and operated, with its impressive manufacturing facility and headquarters based in Hastings, where third-generation Brent Currie steers the ship.

Over the years, there have been a number of remarkable developments – the Chainless Bale Feeder was the real groundbreaker for Hustler in the feed out segment, which now includes a wide-ranging portfolio of equipment, with the EzFeed silage wagon being the latest innovation to impress.

In 2016, Hustler purchased Robertson Manufacturing in Canterbury as a way of expanding their product line, and this included the popular combi wagon, tip trailer, and silage wagon portfolio of machines.

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Class-leading ground clearance

All these machines have since had the ‘Hustler touch’, with a redesign and increased strength and innovation using their ‘achieve more every day’ mantra. The Combi range not only got a shot in the arm in terms of innovation but it also had a New Zealand tour to showcase the machine, with 19 Field Days and demonstration events along the way across the length of the North and South Islands.

Next in line following that successful release is the EzFeed silage wagon, which I checked out in person at Hustler HQ for a thorough build inspection before a test drive at a nearby sheep and beef farm.

Like most machines, they never break down when sitting in the shed (although knowing my luck this will likely happen to me at some stage). As the Mercury rises and everyone returns from the beach, takes a drive around the farm, and realises that the stockpiled silage they so elegantly danced around the October rain to make now needs feeding out. That makes it time to drag the old dinosaur out of the shed for another round of punishment with that wet heavy silage and the weekly downtime as a result.

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Impact-resistant poly hungry boards don’t splinter if impacted when loading

This is where the EzFeed shines: simple, durable, and easy – as the name suggests. So is this a clever marketing gimmick or is this the real deal? I figured that some wet silage will – as my high school geography teacher used to tell me – sort the men out from the pineapples (I still have absolutely no idea what that means and can’t remember any actual geography either by the way – stay in school kids!).

Roller chain and feed bars

So back to the wagon where one of the most notable key features is the 12,000lb roller chain. For those who run on the metric system, it’s near enough to 5.5-tonne per
chain – a huge amount of strength. Given that it’s roller chain, this means less drag and is easier on the Bisloy drive sprockets. Because the feed bars are bolted on (not welded onto the chain, reducing the strength, or an integral part of the chain altogether), if you do bend one, you just unbolt and carry on. In terms of actual drive strength, separate sealed reduction gearboxes give direct drive to the floor.

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Protected chains make for long life an less spillage

The side feed is also chain and slat drive, which is much more durable than a conveyor, particularly when feeding root crops or vegetables. If you’re just feeding maize and grass silage, there’s no risk of a sneaky foreign object damaging the belt, getting trapped under it and prematurely wearing the belt out.

Twin feed

The Hustler EzFeed is again at the pointy end of innovation with the first of its kind, offering left- or right-hand feed discharge. The side discharge to allow adjustment for feeding into troughs, in my opinion, is quite low and personally wouldn’t reach our trough height. The other slight niggle is that in standard spec, switching direction of the cross conveyor requires manually flicking a lever under the brains cover at the front of the wagon. For those who are switching feeding direction all the time, there’s a hydraulic side-shift option, which automatically switches the direction of the cross conveyor to feed out the side that the conveyor is extended towards. This means there’s no need to flick a switch or leave the cab to change from feeding out the left- or right-hand side. There are a couple of other nifty features on the EzFeed conveyor/elevator that make it ideal for trough feeding, feeding under a wire, feeding along a fence line to avoid trampling or general pattern feeding to impress the neighbours. Firstly, the position of the top elevator drive shaft is located directly in the centre of the side feed. This means the product always comes down in the centre of the chain spreading the load evenly for even feed distribution.

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Tough all-steel welded sides handle the biggest loads with ease

The other cool feature is that when you first pull the tractor hydraulic lever, the side feed will start first followed by the elevator and lastly the floor. This allows you to stop all other movement at the end of the feed pad, for example, but move the lever slightly to clear the cross conveyor – smart.

Simple operation

Often farm owners and corporations are just looking for a rugged reliable machine that doesn’t take a high skill level to operate. The EzFeed does allow this: one set of hydraulics is all it takes to connect and power the machine. The nifty load-sensing hydraulics (adjustable) takes the guesswork out of the rest.

Having said this, there are high-tech options available such as the Feedlink weigh system. This allows traceability back to the owner and its easy in-cab use takes the guesswork out of the feeding, particularly to multiple mobs. Better still, it’s accurate both on the tractor and on the jack stand.

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Unique to Hustler the elevator drops feed in the centre of the cross conveyor

Design and build

Hustler Equipment has built a reputation of dependable, well-made equipment and the EzFeed continues that tradition, with its base the same design as the proven Combi wagon platform. Braking on the axles is an option (both single and twin axle braking are available).

Tough axle design with large suspension travel takes varying terrain in its stride, and the clever impact-resistant 15mm thick puck board floor on both the main floor and cross conveyor floor is well up for the challenge. This puck board floor gets its namesake from the material that ice hockey pucks are made from. Another clever composite material is used to make the hungry boards. Hard-wearing and impact-resistant, the rotational moulded design means that a cheeky graze from the silage grab or front-end loader most likely won’t end in tears.

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The SM130 is compact for a 13 cube wagon. Available in 11 or 13m3. Larger sizes available soon.

Summary

While you could argue that a wagon is a wagon, and to a point you are right, if it feeds silage then it ticks the boxes. But what about years of feeding, feeding different crops successfully, machine longevity and performance, and having a unit that any member of the team can use? That’s where the EzFeed really comes into its own. With
the 12,000lb roller chain on the floor, elevator and cross floor, bolt-on bars, puck board floor that won’t bow, rust, or dent, smart feeding options available and the ace in the hole being the twin feed all mounted to a durable, proven platform and finished in the MiNT edition green, it certainly stands out from the crowd.

Hustler EzFeed SM130 specifications

Length 7050mm
Width 2800mm
Height 2710mm
Loading Height 2600mm

Max Load

10,000kg
Tyres 400/60 x15.5 flotation grip tread
Axle Tandem walking beam
Brakes Optional 2-wheel braking
Guards

Standard removable HD guards

Remote greasing Standard
Ladder Standard
Conveyor Twin feed LH and RH discharge, 1000mm wide chain/slat

Pros

  • 12,000lb roller chain on floor, elevator, and cross conveyor
  • Twin feed distribution
  • Strong tandem axle with plenty of travel, tyre, and brake options
  • Puck board floor won’t dent, rust, or bow
  • Feedlink scale options – all come scale ready
  • Chain and slat cross conveyor
  • Feed comes off the elevator and directly into the middle of the cross conveyor
  • Single hydraulic remote required with phased start of cross conveyor, elevator then floor start-up allows you to always clear the side feed without bringing more material forward
  • Individual Direct Drive Elevator and gearbox drive floor

Cons

  • The rear ladder need moving up or the bottom step rubber mounted, as it could get wiped off

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