Almost a year after upgrading to a Massey Ferguson 5711 M, a Cornwall-based livestock farmer remains delighted with his decision.
Jon Balsdon farms at Tredown Farm, Warbstow, near Launceston. The farm’s main enterprise is finishing 80–90 store cattle each year for supply to local abattoirs, and there is also a flock of 200 breeding ewes from which Mule cross lambs are fattened and sold locally.
Jon took over the family farm from his parents, Ken and Thelma, who have since retired but remain on site. Approximately 60ha is owned and 30ha of low-input rough pasture is rented for additional grazing.
A Massey Ferguson 5711 M with Dyna-4 transmission and a factory-fitted FL4121 front loader is highly rated by its owner - Cornwall-based livestock farmer, Jon Balsdon.
Decent loader tractor
The 5711 M with a factory fitted FL4121 front loader arrived on the farm last May, replacing a Massey Ferguson 5455 which Jon bought second-hand from local main dealer, Alan Snow Agricultural Engineers (Launceston) Ltd, in 2014. The 5455 was a 2009 model, and by the time Jon part-exchanged it last year it had worked 6,800 hours but remained reliable. An older tractor of another brand is also used, but the Massey Ferguson does most of the work.
“You have to have a decent loader tractor,” explained Jon. “During the winter, almost everything we do involves the front loader, then when the cattle are turned out in the spring it works hard mucking out the buildings. It is also used for grassland maintenance including topping, aerating and fertiliser applications, then during grass harvesting to make hay. Throughout the year it performs transport tasks too.”
A powerful 100 litres/min twin-pump hydraulic system allows fast cycle times at low engine revs – reducing fuel use, wear and tear, and noise.
First with suspension
“It’s our first tractor with cab suspension, and I remain amazed by the excellent ride quality. There are some very uneven minor roads around the farm and after a long day in the seat my back used to ache, but since having the 5711 M it hasn’t been an issue at all. The cab suspension felt strange at first as I was so used to driving tractors with rigid cabs, but I quickly got used to it and definitely wouldn’t go back to a main tractor without it now,” Jon stressed.
Jon says the cab suspension makes a big difference to operator comfort, and he wouldn’t want another main tractor without it. The cab is spacious, all-around vision is excellent and the controls are logically positioned and easy to use.
Another feature which Jon rates highly is the optional Dyna-4 semi-powershift transmission which provides 16 forward and 16 reverse gear ratios in four ranges. Gear and range changes can be made on the move using either the right-hand T-Lever, or the Power Control lever on the left of the steering column which also controls travel direction.
“The main advantage is being able to use either hand to change gear,” explained Jon. “Using the Power Control lever leaves my right hand free for the loader or to adjust the rear linkage. Even when I’m not using my right hand to control other functions – there are occasions when changing controls is more comfortable. Dyna-4 allows me to change through all the gears I need for transport or field work without touching the clutch pedal. It’s a good system and very flexible. Ratio changes are always smooth – even under load.”
Spacious, comfortable cab
Jon said the cab of the 5711 M is spacious and comfortable, and vision is excellent all around. The tractor is also compact and manoeuvrable. “For loader work around the yard it’s easy to work in tight spaces, and I have also noticed how much better it is for fencing as I can get right into the corners with the post knocker.”
The 5711 M has a twin-pump 100 litres/min hydraulic system. With both pumps selected loader cycle times are quick, and Jon said that when using his shear-grab it cuts straight through the silage without needing to increase the engine revs.
Jon has only one minor criticism. “With the loader fitted, the toolbox is repositioned higher up in front of the cab, and to see into it and get to the tools I have to stand on the cab steps and lean over. Apart from that – there is nothing I would change.”
When the 5455 was due for updating, Jon considered other brands but chose to remain with Massey Ferguson and the back-up of his local dealer. “I have plenty of experience driving other makes of tractor, but I like Massey Ferguson and the team at Alan Snow is excellent. I consulted the dealer’s Area Sales Manager, Alan Lake, and he recommended the ideal specification. We agreed a price to change, and although I didn’t expect my new tractor to be available for some time due to industry-wide machinery shortages, the dealer commits to a lot of stock, and supplied it within just a few months.”
Since its arrival – the 5711 M has been almost totally reliable, and the dealer’s after-sales team has only been called out once for a fault. “When it needs servicing or I require spare parts, I just call the Service Administrator, Yvette Ingram and she arranges it. I have never had to chase the dealer for anything. Other farmers in this area often comment that the back-up is excellent.”
Jon Balsdon (left) with Alan Snow Area Sales Manager Alan Lake.
Tractor and dealer package
“I would be completely happy to order the same tractor and loader combination again. It does everything we need and is efficient and comfortable,” confirmed Jon. “We will probably keep it for at least five years before updating it and expect its replacement to be another Massey Ferguson from Alan Snow.”