South West-based farmer and contractor Brian Davies bought his first Welger baler more than 40 years ago, then operated eight more of the same brand before buying the latest Massey Ferguson model last year.
Trading as RL Davies & Son, Brian Davies operates from a base near Liskeard, Cornwall. His mixed farm includes grassland and cereals, and there is a 30-cow Blonde d’Aquitaine breeding herd. The contracting operation uses machinery shared with the farm and it specialises in cereals and grass harvesting, and includes baling for local farms.
First Welger round baler
“In the 1970’s we were faced with updating our forage harvester which was a major cost for the farm,” explained Brian. “Round balers were a new concept at that time, and a cheaper option than a new forager, so we invested in one of the first Welgers which made 3,500 bales of silage during the first year, while our conventional baler made 12,000 bales of hay.”
During the first year operating the new round baler, wet weather caused problems for those attempting to make hay in the area and Brian gained many new customers who had heard of the Welger’s impressive silage baling performance. It remained on the farm for three years, making more than 30,000 bales of silage, hay and straw and when it was replaced there was no need to consider other brands. “We were so impressed by it,” said Brian. “The bales were consistent, it did everything we asked of it so another Welger was the obvious choice.”
Brian has operated a further eight Welger balers since buying his first and says that each time he has upgraded to a newer model it has been improved compared to the previous version. Initially his balers were updated every three years while producing 10,000 bales per year, but this was extended to every five years as annual bale numbers reduced due to some customers moving to large square bales. “Currently we make approximately 6,000 silage, hay and straw bales each year and, of these, 650-700 silage bales and 200 straw bales are for our own cattle,” Brian explained. “We wrap our own bales and offer the service for customers. Seeing the bales we made as they are wrapped really highlights the Welger’s impressive consistency.”
When Brian heard about Agco’s acquisition of the Lely Welger forage machinery division, he contacted his local main dealer Alan Snow Agricultural Engineers Ltd to find out more. “I have always relied on Massey Ferguson combines and run several older Massey Ferguson tractors and I get on well with the dealer’s sales and service teams,” he said. “The new Massey Ferguson balers retain all the Welger’s best design features, but there are useful improvements too, such as a better tailgate latch which will help when baling dry straw. The one-piece side cover makes it easier to get at everything for daily maintenance and one of the best new features is the over-run clutch which reduces wear and tear on the baler and tractor every time the PTO is disengaged.”
Brian traded in his Welger 245 Profi for the upgraded Massey Ferguson RB 3130F Xtra version equipped with a 25-knife chopper and which arrived in April last year. “It’s a really good baler and it makes excellent bales which are always consistent,” he explained. “The dealer has been good too, and the efficient back-up was highlighted last harvest when we had a few minor issues. The service team identified the fault and obtained the replacement parts quickly, to minimise our downtime.”
Confidence in MF brand
“When I next update my baler, it will definitely be for another Massey Ferguson,” continued Brian. “I know there are other good balers on the market, but I don’t think there is anything to touch the Welger design. It’s not unusual for farmers in our area to cut grass as late as November. By then the weather can be awful and conditions are usually quite tough, but I know that when I turn up at the farm with my Welger-designed baler it’s capable of putting anything away, and making good, consistent bales. I don’t know how many years it will be before I next upgrade it - but if it’s anything like the previous Welger models, it will have held its value well.”