The Daniels family has farmed at St Giles-on-the-Heath, Devon - close to the Cornwall border, since buying their farm in 1965, and Massey Ferguson tractors have been used there for as long as third-generation farmer Gareth Daniels can remember.
Trading as GT & DA Daniels, Gareth runs the farm with his wife, Debbie. The main enterprise is a milking herd comprising approximately 120 British Friesian, Montbéliard and Dexter cows plus followers. There is also a flock of 400 Mule and Texel-cross ewes.
Reliable tractors and attentive dealer
Gareth and his wife are assisted by a part-time relief milker, and they rely on a fleet of four tractors of which the two primary machines are a Massey Ferguson 5711 M with Dyna-4 transmission bought last year to replace a 5711 Global-series tractor, and a larger Massey Ferguson 6716 S Dyna-6 which replaced a 6470 in 2019. “We have always had Massey Ferguson tractors, and the first that I drove was a 575,” Gareth explained. “They are reliable and the team at our local main dealer, Alan Snow Agricultural Engineers (Launceston) Ltd, is excellent. As a livestock farm we depend on good back-up. The Massey Fergusons give us very few problems, but we know that if issues occur then the dealer’s service team will get us going again quickly.”
The 5711 M is used mainly for yard-based tasks and does most of the loader work. During the busy grass harvesting season it also does the tedding and raking, and hauls silage when needed.
Both Massey Ferguson tractors have loader brackets and share a single FL4121 front loader. “Being more compact and manoeuvrable, we prefer the 5711 M for loader work in the yard, including moving straw bales, bedding down, mucking out and for feeding. For loading and carting bales from the fields we usually fit the loader on the 6716 S instead. The extra power is an advantage for transport as there are several steep hills in the area. We grow forage maize and the 6716 S does most of the arable field work too.”
Although the two Massey Ferguson tractors each work approximately 800 hours per year, breakdowns are very rare. “If we have an issue, it’s usually just a technical glitch which doesn’t stop us working, and it’s sorted out quickly by our dealer,” said Gareth.
Owner and main user, Gareth Daniels says the 5711 M does everything it is supposed to well. It has all the features needed, but no gimmicks.
Ideal stockman’s tractor
Gareth considers the 115hp 5711 M with optional Dyna-4 transmission an ideal stockman’s tractor. “It does everything it’s supposed to really well,” he explained. “There is nothing fancy, but it has all the features we would want for its role.
“The Dyna-4 transmission is superb. It provides exceptional flexibility for this size and type of tractor. Around the yard I use the Power Control lever by the steering wheel to change travel direction, gears, and ranges - leaving my right hand free for loader control. In the field and for transport work I prefer using the T-Lever on the right-hand side to select gears and ranges instead.”
The tractor’s twin-pump hydraulic system provides up to 100 litres/min of oil flow for fast loader performance, and Gareth said that when single pump operating mode is selected, the slower cycle times are immediately noticed.
Daily checks and routine servicing are quick and easy to complete. Fuel consumption isn’t measured but although the 5711 M is used daily, the diesel tank is filled only a few times each week during the summer, and once per week in the winter.
For yard-based loader work the Dyna-4 transmission is described as excellent. Using the steering column-mounted Power Control lever to change travel direction, gears and gear ranges leaves the right hand free for precise loader control for maximum productivity.
Comfortable and spacious
Cab comfort is highly rated. Gareth describes the cab as spacious; he says the controls are well laid out and user-friendly, and that the all-around good vision is an advantage when working in confined livestock yards. “The heater works well, but an additional hot air outlet down by my feet would be welcome on cold mornings, and I would also like a steeper bonnet slope for an even better forward view. It’s actually very good already, but like most stockmen I always want to see more.”
Price and back-up
The farm’s main tractors are usually kept for two and a half years, during which time they work approximately 2,000 hours. “Before ordering the 5711 M we tried several competitor brands, but the Massey Ferguson was well priced, we were confident it would be reliable, and we also knew we could rely on the back-up from Dealer Principal, Wayne Rundle and the rest of the Alan Snow team. The 5711 M is a good stockman’s tractor, and I would choose the same again.”