The 125hp MF 5S.125 is owned by the Ashworth family who farm at Clitheroe and trade as MDB & J Ashworth.

The enterprise is run by Mark Ashworth and his wife Johannah, plus their son Dan and daughter-in-law Anna. Mark is the third generation of the family to farm there, and he and Anna also have two children - Joe and Nat. The main enterprise is a dairy herd consisting of 220 Holstein Friesians. Approximately 180 are milked – most by robot plus some in a conventional parlour. Apart from eight hectares of wheat grown for wholecrop silage, the rest of the land is permanent grass which includes 25ha for grazing and 80ha from which four cuts of silage are taken each year. “The farm is fairly flat considering we are in a generally hilly area,” explained Mark. “A lot of our land is river-side grazing, so we always have plenty of grass.”


Mixed brand fleet

The Ashworths have three tractors, all of different brands. The newest is a Massey Ferguson 5S.125 which arrived last October. There is also an eight-year-old 200hp tractor, and a 14-year-old smaller 100hp machine. A modern telehandler is used for loading and materials handling.

“The 5S.125 is our first Massey Ferguson,” explained Dan. “A 20-year-old 100hp tractor of another brand was replaced, and we wanted a tractor with slightly more power which could take on some of the more demanding tasks in the yard, as well as more of the field work. Our biggest 200hp tractor is getting older and by transferring some of its work to the 5S-series machine, then we should be able to keep it for longer while avoiding costly repairs, and also reduce our operating costs including fuel use. When the big tractor broke down last year it was out of action for several weeks, and because we had nothing capable of taking over its role we had the added expense of hiring a replacement. Upgrading our older 100hp tractor with something slightly more powerful, but still compact enough for yard work made sense.”

Local main dealer Clarke & Pulman Ltd supplied the MF 5S.125. “We hadn’t previously bought anything from the company, although we were aware of the team’s excellent reputation,” continued Mark. “We had known the Area Sales Manager, Richard Pinder for many years, and he recommended the latest MF 5S-series tractor which had recently arrived into stock. We placed an order, and it was delivered last October.”


The Massey Ferguson 5S.125 is the farm’s main tractor and it will work up to 800 hours per year carrying out a wide variety of tasks, including some it has taken over from the farm’s largest 200hp tractor.


Demanding role

The new Massey Ferguson is used whenever possible in preference to the other tractors. Last winter it powered the feed mixer wagon for up to 1.5 hours per day. “It’s fantastic,” stressed Dan. “It has plenty of torque which allows us to use the 540 Eco PTO setting – reducing the engine revs and achieving significant fuel savings. It’s been used to apply slurry to the fields fitted with our umbilical supply system and an 8m dribble bar and it handled that easily too. Up to 800m of hose is carried on the front linkage-mounted reel, and the tractor has no problem lifting it, even when it’s full.”

The tractor was also used for grass tedding and raking during the harvest season, and it did all the fertiliser and spray applications. It transported wholecrop wheat from the field to the yard in the farm’s 12t trailer, and it powered the grass topper too.


Amazed by capabilities

Dan said that he is constantly amazed by the Massey Ferguson’s performance. “Our 2,800-gallon slurry tanker is usually pulled behind the bigger 200hp tractor, but when that was being used for other tasks we tried it behind the MF 5S.125 instead, and it had no problem pulling it in the field,” he explained. “If necessary, it could replace the bigger tractor for grass mowing too. We use a set of front- and rear-mounted 3m mowers that give a 6m total cutting width, and I know it would handle them easily. Even if we upgrade to a triple set for higher work rates in future, then it would be capable of operating them too.”


Compact and manoeuvrable

Although the MF 5S.125 has impressed with its ability to work with larger implements, Mark said that it is also ideal for yard work. The compact size allows use inside traditional farm buildings where the roof is too low for the 200hp tractor, and the new Massey Ferguson is more manoeuvrable than the smaller 100hp tractor, making it a better option for operating the feed mixer wagon in the confined areas.

The MF 5S.125 has the popular Dyna-6 transmission. “It’s very flexible for field and transport work, and we feel it offers advantages over the alternative Dyna-4 version,” Dan explained. “Gear changes are smooth – even in manual operating mode which I prefer for yard work, and for tasks such as fertiliser applications I select automatic shifting and use the cruise control function which easily maintains pre-set speeds. It’s a superb system and even though it includes many advanced features – anyone can get on the tractor and use it. It’s very user-friendly.”


Powerful, fast hydraulics

The standard 110 litres/min closed-centre hydraulic system provides plenty of flow for demanding applications. Oil is supplied through two manual and two electronic hydraulic spools. The umbilical slurry hose reel is hydraulic driven, and Dan said that the MF 5S.125 operates it quicker than the larger 200hp tractor which saves time reeling the hose in, and trailers tip more quickly too.

Most PTO-driven implements are operated in economy mode, saving fuel and reducing operating noise. The engine speed memory function adds convenience, and the ability to engage the PTO and have it operating at the required speed using mudguard-mounted controls is also a significant advantage. “Previously, when loading the mixer-wagon we were getting on and off the telehandler and climbing in and out of the tractor cab to operate the PTO and adjust the engine speed. Being able to stop and start the PTO and set the required revs from outside saves a lot of time and effort, and it keeps the cab interior cleaner too.”


Useful features

The tractor had been ordered by Clarke & Pulman for use as a demonstrator, and it came with an optional hydraulic top link and an LED lighting pack, as well as large 600/65R38 rear, and 480/65R28 front wheels and tyres. “It’s the first tractor I’ve used with a hydraulic top link,” said Dan. “It makes hitching up to implements much easier, but it’s also fantastic for tedding grass as the tedder working angle can be easily adjusted from the seat. It makes a real difference.

“The LED lights are unbelievable. When we get into our other tractors now it’s as if we are working by candlelight. We used to think that the lights on our biggest tractor were good – but these are in a different league altogether.”


Heavy workload

As the farm’s new main tractor, the MF 5S.125 will work up to 800 hours per year. Dan said that the cab is excellent – with plenty of space, a superb standard of finish and a comfortable ride. All the controls are well laid out and easy to use. He particularly likes the two opening side windows - “The air conditioning is effective, but I like fresh air and being able to open the side windows and roof is an advantage, “he explained. “I am also very impressed by the view from the seat. The exhaust is tucked away and doesn’t obscure vision to the front, and the two curved rear quarter windows provide a great view of wider implements and make it easier to judge clearances in the yard. The door is just the right size too – there is plenty of room to get in and out, but it opens fully without needing a lot of space at the sides. For a livestock farmer working inside buildings, it’s just right.”


Delighted with decision

The MF 5S.125 was bought with the standard two-year manufacturer warranty. Since its arrival on the farm, it has proved totally reliable, and a few minor teething issues soon after delivery were quickly rectified by the dealer. “I’ve been very impressed by the tractor and the back-up from Richard and the rest of the Clarke & Pulman team,” concluded Mark. “On farms in our local area there is a big mix of tractor brands, and we are surrounded by good dealers. We remain delighted with our first Massey Ferguson - so much so that we will consider another when our next tractor is due for replacement. It’s first class, and ideal for a livestock or mixed farm like ours.”

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