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Good design, training key to front-end loader operation
Sometimes called a bucket, a scoop or a lift, a front end
loader on a tractor is one of the most popular items on the farm. Almost as soon as tractors became affordable,
farmers saw the benefit of a manure loader to clean barns and lots. Loaders are available in a wide range of
styles and designs. Some are on a skid
steer or dedicated tractor, often a utility model which may have a hydraulic
lift, bucket tilt and perhaps a thumb or 4-in-1 bucket for greater versatility
in handling materials. Others are
mounted on a field tractor for part of the year and taken off for field work.
Short line manufacturers that specialize in only a few types
of equipment have been very succesful in the loader market. One well known builder is Westendorf, which
features loaders that fit over 500 models of tractors and which mount and
dismount readily so the tractor is not tied up with the loader. Westendorf, Woods, Rhino and other
manufacturers offer a variety of attachments such as blades, fork lifts, gin
poles, hay spears, squeeze clamps and jibs or cranes to match your equipment to
any job. Many feature quick connect
couplings so that attachments can be changed or dismounted quickly and
easily. As farmers buy seed, chemicals
and other items in bulk, it is important to have a machine on the farm that can
handle the size and weight of the products.
Mounting hydraulically operated equipment on the loader boom
increases it's flexibility as a farm tool.
Post hole augers, post drivers, mowers and diggers can be mounted on the
skid steer or tractor loader frame, putting the work in easy vision of the
Safety must always be a consideration when selecting and
using a loader as they can put a lot of weight up high and create an unstable
center of balance on your machine. This
is especially true when working on uneven ground or turning a short
radius. A machine with a cab or ROPS
makes safety sense when using a loader.
Keep the load low, avoid sharp, high speed turns and never let people
work under or around the loader when in operation.
Loaders can be built in about any configuration the farmer
can imagine, so short line manufacturers or local machine shops may offer a
solution if loaders sold by main line farm equipment companies don't do the
job. Good design and construction,
training and safe operation are key to using this device productively. It is a tremendous labor and time savor on
nearly any farm.