Innovative Spreader Chaser wins coveted Henty award


Bruce and Heath Hutcheon, Coolamon, celebrate the Henty Machine of the Year Award for the Coolamon Spreader Chaser.

A multi-purpose fertiliser spreader and chaser bin offering increased productivity and year round flexibility has won the coveted 2019 Henty Machine of the Year Award.

The Coolamon Spreader Chaser, entered by Coolamon Chaser Bins, Coolamon, NSW, impressed judges with its innovation, engineering and design.

Featuring a self-cleaning hopper, the Spreader Chaser is equipped with Haze Ag polyurethane spinner blades with bevel edged spinner discs.

The variable sized cones have the ability to spread all varieties of product while the chaser bin features include a 20 inch (50cm) auger with an unloading rate of 10 tonnes a minute.

Highly commended was the Offsider Ag Equipment Spin-a-Calf, entered by David Hicks, Killarney, Queensland.

Australian designed and manufactured, the Spin-a-Calf turns marking and branding calves into a one-person operation.

Gerald and David Hicks with their Spin-A-Calf.

The Spin-A-Calf stays upright, minimising stress to the animal and operator.

It has been designed and tested by people of all ages and abilities – the calf is caught once, tagged, backlined and marked at the operator’s own pace.

A revolutionary turntable means the operator remains still and there is no traipsing backwards and forwards.

A total of 13 machines and equipment at the cutting edge of agricultural technology were showcased in the Henty Machine of the Year.

Announced on the opening day, this award is presented to the most outstanding new piece of agricultural machinery exhibited at the field days.

It was judged by an independent panel of regional primary producers on Monday (September 16) and presented at the field days opening today (September 17).

Judging criteria include the machine’s purpose and suitability, scope of application, construction (durability and design), ease of maintenance and service, ease of operation and adjustment, availability of parts and overall value for money.

Judge Mark Bowyer said the award was open to all machines on site released into the Australian market in the 12 months prior to the field days.

Mr Bowyer said much thought had gone into the Coolamon Spreader Chaser.

“Coolamon has been building chaser bins for quite some time – the idea of the Spreader Chaser brings two machines into one without compromising the functionality of either of those machines,” he said.

“As far as the spreader goes, it is a high volume, high capacity spreader – a lot of producers now are spreading poultry manure and such products where they need greater volumes.

“At the same time, the machine can accurately spread lime and gypsum with the ISOBUS variable rate – it really impressed us.

“The model we viewed had steerable rear-axle on the walking beam and weigh scales.

“The spreader mechanism on the back is well renowned spinners designed by Richard Hazelton.

“They have been tested independently and can spread urea up to 36 metres.”

Mr Bowyer said hungry boards had been added on top to increase the capacity for chaser bin use.

“The belt is reversed quite simply by pulling a lever so it carries the product to the front and into the discharge auger,” he said.

“Coolamon has worked on this machine for quite some time so it is good to see them getting it out into the field.”

Coolamon general manager Heath Hutcheon said the award was recognition of his team’s efforts and commitment over the past few years.

“To be recognised the farmer judges means a lot – we are thrilled,” Mr Hutcheon said.

The Coolamon Spreader Chaser 3523 was launched commercially in March this year and exhibited at field days around the nation.

“We have had excellent feedback from growers, many wondering why this machine wasn’t thought of years ago,” Mr Hutcheon said.

“With the cost of machinery these days, to bring two into one makes so much sense from a commercial point of view.”

Mr Hutcheon said cost savings on machinery was the biggest benefit to farmers.

“A chaser bin gets used for one month of the year and a spreader for six to nine months, and this machine is basically hooked up to the back of a tractor all year round,” he said.

“There are four different sizes ranging from 20 to 30 tonnes, starting at $140,000-$170,000 + GST.

“We are unique in the spreader industry with a one metre wide belt and to get the tonnage we had to make the hopper longer, so weight on the belt was our biggest challenge.

“From a spreading point of view, the rear end is exactly the same as our spreader range.”

Mr Hutcheon said growers were budgeting for grain handling equipment 18 months out.

“To make a real cost advantage, you need to marry up your machinery patterns so you are in a position to replace two machines by one.”

Mark Bowyer said the Spin-A-Calf was focused on animal welfare and operator safety.

“Traditionally, when calves enter the cradle they would be tipped on their side whereas with this one they remain standing,” he said.

“The side panels slide forward allowing access to the rear of the calf for marking while not compromising the safety of the operator.

“It is self adjusting with a simple ratchet mechanism clamping the calf in position, without causing any bruising on the animal.

“It is a simple machine with not too many wearing parts and a lot of thought has gone into it.

“Getting labour is harder and harder in any of the enterprises so this can allow one or two people to mark quite a few calves in a day without too much effort.”

David Hicks said the Spin-A-Calf was launched at Farm Fest in Queensland.

“We have had very positive feedback from farmers – it is designed to be a low maintenance, simple product that will last for years.

“Depending on the season and size of stock, it can handle calves up to weaning weight or 1300mm high.

“The traditional way of marking calves is tough on the calf and operator, and requires several people.

“With the push for ethically produced animal products, we needed to find a better way to do it.”

Mr Bowyer said entries ranged from large seed drills and self-propelled sprayers to a solar tracking system, showcasing diversity in innovation.

“All the exhibitors knew their products well and it was great to see a lot of Australian made machines, including several made locally to the Henty district.”