Cat­tle baron Cat 924K wheel loader

Ron Horner checks out a Cat 924K wheel loader be­ing used on a cat­tle feed­lot on the New South Wales/ Queens­land bor­der

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

Gen­er­ally, when I re­view heavy ma­chin­ery, it’s in­volved in the con­struc­tion, min­ing and pipe­line in­dus­tries. But this test is of a new Cat 924K wheel loader be­ing used on a cat­tle feed­lot about 60km out of Goondi­windi on the New South

Wales/Queens­land bor­der. Nor­mally we would find such a ma­chine lo­cated on a small quarry site, con­struc­tion site, mine site or road­works project, so when I found out this one worked in the ag sec­tor, I had to go and see for my­self – not only for the re­view, but to check out just what type of role it played. I met up with An­drew Slack, farm man­ager for Sap­phire/ Smith­field Feed­lot, who runs a 4000-head beef cat­tle feed­lot on 4000 acres just on the edge of the mighty McIn­tyre River.

The Cat 924K is a new ad­di­tion to the lot’s fleet, re­plac­ing Ko­matsu and Volvo load­ers. An­drew hap­pened to be ex­tremely busy when I first came to the prop­erty a few weeks ear­lier, so we de­cided to take a raincheck and catch up when he had run up about 100 hours of work on the rig. Now, for those not fa­mil­iar with feed­lot cat­tle, it is a prac­tice where the prop­erty can sus­tain some crop grow­ing (usu­ally re­lated to cat­tle pro­duc­tion feed), has a good wa­ter sup­ply for ir­ri­ga­tion and stock, and is ide­ally lo­cated in close prox­im­ity to mar­kets or has good road train or B-dou­ble truck ac­cess. The cat­tle have enough room for a quick trip to a pad­dock, but are usu­ally penned and fat­tened up with a high-pro­tein cat­tle feed mix of var­i­ous feed crops blended in ex­act­ing quan­ti­ties. Not all feed crops can be grown on the farm, so ex­tra va­ri­eties of high-pro­tein feed are brought in.

A very con­trolled diet and the ad­di­tion of mo­lasses al­lows the cat­tle to gain max­i­mum con­trolled weight and con­di­tion in a very short time.

A great deal of land is used for ir­ri­ga­tion farm­ing on this par­tic­u­lar farm, and feed crops are grown here to sup­ple­ment the costs and feed for the cat­tle.

A lat­eral (trav­el­ling) ir­ri­ga­tor pulls wa­ter from the main wa­ter ir­ri­ga­tion chan­nel and can place an inch of wa­ter over the area in one night, which is in­valu­able to farm­ers in this, and many other, ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

ON THE JOB

This Cater­pil­lar 924K is en­gaged as the main, and only, pro­duc­tion loader in this feed­lot. It is used to re­trieve feed from eight con­crete bulk feed bins lo­cated in the feed shed, haul it across the shed, and load it into a truck-mounted Ro­toMix mo­bile feed bin.

This ma­te­rial is then metic­u­lously blended in the Ro­toMix prior to haul­ing and side-dis­charg­ing into the con­crete feed troughs at the cat­tle yards some 500m away.

This feed is quite a ‘phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal blend’ of sorghum si­lage, bar­ley, ce­real hay and cot­ton seed meal juiced up with a liq­uid mo­lasses, all of which needs to be fed in ex­act­ing mea­sure­ments for blend­ing.

The loader has a big job ahead of it as the con­di­tions in the shed are tough, even though it’s out of the weather and has a con­crete floor.

The loader works in an area with lit­tle ven­ti­la­tion and con­tin­ual dust is­sues, is en­gaged in con­tin­ual move­ment at speed for hours on end, and the op­er­a­tor has to have ex­cel­lent con­trol over the bucket when dis­charg­ing mea­sured quan­ti­ties into the Roto-Mix.

The Cat 924K, which sits at close to 13 tonnes, has an Aussie-de­signed and lo­cally man­u­fac­tured (by McCor­mack In­dus­tries in Oakey) 3-cu­bic-me­tre light­weight bucket that is per­fectly suited to this ma­chine for this ap­pli­ca­tion.

The op­er­a­tor can pick up two tonnes of bulk feed with this quick-re­lease bucket, which means fewer trips at a lower cost and with more pro­duc­tion – a win-win-win here on this job.

The quick-re­lease bucket is off in a flash when the fork­lift tynes are re­quired. This is an­other rea­son to have a loader of this size and ver­sa­til­ity. When the hay stock­pile in the feed­lot bays starts to run a bit short, the forks are used to bring in hay bales for re­stock­ing.

The Cat 924K loader in the Goondi­windi cat­tle feed shed

CAT 924K LOADER

Op­er­at­ing weight 12.87 tonnes

En­gine Cat C6.6 ACERT Max power 105kW Max dump height 3907mm Trans­mis­sion Hy­dro­static

Com­pare specs at TradeEarth­movers.com.au/spec

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ABOVE: Prime beef cat­tle

1: The loader work­ing in the

feed­lot bins

2: An­drew Slack’s cat­tle feed­lot 2: Re­viewer Ron Horner says the Cat 924K is ide­ally suited to feed­lot work

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