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The second largest egg producer in the United States, Rose Acre Farms has a legacy with the Case 621 wheel loader that dates back to a “straight 621,” followed by B, C, D, E and now F Series machines.
But don’t think for a second this relationship is automatic, says 26-year company veteran Rob Hayes.
“Every time we go to buy new machines,” says Hayes, who oversees environmental services in six different states for Rose Acre Farms, “as long as something has been changed on a competitor’s offering, we’re going to take a good look at it. What I have to consider for the company is getting the best machine for the money we spend.
“Between service, parts availability and a good quality, reliable machine, I know we’ve got the loader we need.”
Rose Acre Farms recently added three Case 621F wheel loaders to its fleet, putting one each into operation in southern Indiana, North Carolina and northern Indiana. Shawn Shepherd, who manages the northern Indiana operation, said the 621F they are using has already seen about 200 hours of use yet has needed only a minimal addition of the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) that is sprayed into the exhaust gases as part of Case’s Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) solution to Tier 4 Interim emissions compliance. “We idle the machine a lot,” says Shepherd, “and I was warned the machine would use quite a bit of DEF when idling.”
Both Hayes and Shepherd had previous experience with agricultural vehicles that used considerably more DEF. “But the 621F,” says Hayes, “has been doing exactly what our Case salesman, Gorley Mackenzie of MacDonald Machinery, told us it would.” At the same time, “Our operators have told us that fuel consumption is less, and that has pleasantly surprised me.”
Rose Acre Farms primarily uses its Case wheel loaders to stockpile chicken manure in large compost buildings on company property, as well as to load manure spreaders in area farmers’ fields. When testing other makes of wheel loaders, the small pin feathers and other miniscule debris from the manure have led to overheating of engines and transmissions in as few as 20 minutes, says Hayes. “It’s not that it’s a particularly extreme application, but we know what works and what doesn’t. Just what Case has done with the boxed-in cooling system, there’s nobody who can beat that,” says Hayes.
“The compost building has probably the dirtiest conditions. It’s just a big hoop building – 100 foot by 300 foot – and it holds about 17,000 tons of manure. We more or less pack the manure in, just as you would a silage pile. The loader operators build a ramp and they go 40 feet in the air, hauling product up, dumping it and packing it. That is where we can find whether the machine is going to make it or not. With a regular stacked radiator system, it sucks in, plugs it up and, within 20 minutes, you’re done,” says Hayes.
“In our application, there is no other machine than the Case 621F that competes.”
Big-machine production Rose Acre Farms outfits all of its current and previous-series 621 wheel loaders with higher-reach, larger-capacity buckets, “which allows us to use a smaller machine to do the same job as a much larger loader,” says Hayes. “This keeps our costs down. It’s made us very efficient.”
This, in turn, brings forth another advantage, he points out. “Having the engine in the back of the machine, our operators feel, helps counterweight the machine better. We don’t necessarily have to add counterweights to run these larger buckets.”
Rose Acre operators road their wheel loaders from farm to farm – and this is another area where the Case product stands out, says 621F operator John Warren. “The Ride Control is 10 times better on the Case,” says Warren, based in Rensselaer, Indiana. “Even when the bucket bounces a lot, the cab stays more stable. It is a lot more comfortable ride than any other machine I have run. It’s not rough on your back; it doesn’t jerk you around like a lot of machines.” In addition, Warren has found the 621F to be a little quicker on the road than he perceived an SCR machine would be.
The Case 621F provides a balance for budget-conscious manager like Hayes. “You never want an operator having to operate a machine that’s going to cost the company a lot of money to keep going, and you also want him to be comfortable and happy, too.”
Both Hayes and Shepherd commend the serviceability features of Case wheel loaders, particularly the absence of exposed hinges and swing-out doors that are magnets for the minute chicken feathers and manure debris. “We’ve had Case machines with 10,000 hours on them, and we’ve never had any problems raising the hood up and down,” says Hayes.
“I’ve got guys waiting in line to buy our old loaders with 13,000 and 15,000 hours on them,” says Hayes. “We’ve gotten several machines to where we actually owned them for about $2 an hour.
“You can’t sneeze about that . . .” Even when surrounded by chicken feathers.