Four Generations of Forage
An Idaho farm family shares a few of its secrets for continued success.
By Tharran E. Gaines | Photos By Tharran E. Gaines
Use the Right Equipment
“The equipment available today makes it easier to put up quality hay,” Brad relates. “The new RazorBar™ headers on our Hesston by Massey Ferguson® windrowers are a good example. We used to have two sickle-type machines and one disc windrower,” he explains. “When it came time for the last cutting, which is usually pretty thin, we’d just have to park the disc windrower. However, the new RazorBar features so many improvements for light crop feeding that we’ve now gone with all disc windrowers.”
“Believe me, we’ve tried everything on the market,” Ben adds, “including a 50-foot, self-propelled disc mower conditioner. The RazorBar, with its steel-on-steel conditioner, just does a better job, which allows us to rake and bale almost a half day earlier than we can with anything else.”
Adapt When Necessary
The McIntyres have seen change first-hand, particularly when large dairies started moving from California and Washington to Idaho in the 1990s. As a result, demand for hay increased significantly. In fact, McIntyre Farms continues to supply most of the alfalfa for one 7,500-head operation. Now that the dairies are established, however, several of them have begun buying land and raising their own hay in an effort to become self-sufficient, while leaving the door open for custom haying.
In the meantime, the market for export hay has increased in Idaho in response to higher hay prices in Washington and Oregon.
“Last year, the export market bought nearly 8,000 tons of hay, with the first part of it going to Saudi Arabia,” Ben recalls. He adds, “They will take lower quality hay simply because most of it is being cubed prior to shipment.”
In response to the increased export demand, Ben says they have already replaced their MF2190 4 x 4 balers with Massey Ferguson model 2170 balers that make 3 x 4 big square bales. According to Ben, the shorter height will allow trucks destined for the ports to be loaded with more weight without exceeding height limits.
However, by the time Bentley becomes the fifth generation to work the farm, alfalfa production will probably have changed again. One thing will be certain, though. He will have had some good instructors.
A Change of Plans
When the McIntyre family purchased a 225-horsepower John Deere tractor in 2007, they just assumed they would be buying two more a couple years later. That all changed last year when Brant Schorr, their sales representative at Agri-Service in Oregon, sold them on two new Massey Ferguson 8680 models.
“Had it been a new tractor from anybody else, we probably wouldn’t have given it a second look,” says Ben McIntyre. “But we’ve established a lot of trust with Agri-Service. They’re by far the best deal around on parts and service. They always do what they say they’re going to do.”
Today, the McIntyres are totally sold on Massey Ferguson high-horsepower tractors, and one of the big reasons is fuel efficiency. “It uses 50% less fuel than the Case IH Magnum tractors we had in the past,” says Ben, “and 15 to 20% less than our John Deere 8330. Yet, it has 50 more horsepower than either one.”
One key to the efficiency is the economy PTO, which allows the tractors to power the balers nearly 90% of the time at just 1,640 rpm. Another is the e3 SCR system, which uses DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) to neutralize exhaust emissions, while the continuously variable transmission (CVT), says Ben, is much more efficient than a powershift model. “The CVT has been a real fuel saver by helping find the perfect speed for just about any job,” he adds.