Claas User John Macgillivray Says ‘High Quality Bales Make High Quality Forage’

Even though it had only just been introduced, John MacGillivray had no qualms about buying a Rollant 540RC for last season, reasoning that Claas has more than 40 years of baler manufacturing experience behind it.


The decision to change his old Rollant 375 for the new 540RC was not taken lightly. For him, the baler is one of the most important machines he has on the farm and key to his whole farming system.


“I am a one-man band and generally the farm is completely self-sufficient,” said John, who is the seventh generation of MacGillivrays to farm at Boat of Garten, near Aviemore. “I have a herd of mainly Angus cross Simmental suckler cows that are generally put to a Limousin bull.

“But rather than sell the progeny as stores, I want to have control over the quality of meat that is eventually going into the market and so take them right through to finishing, aiming to reach 700kg at about 22 to 24 months to give a 400kg carcase. In addition, I also overwinter Blackface sheep from Loch Tay, which we have been doing for 50 years.”


All the feed he needs is produced from the 160ha farm, where in addition to making about 1500 silage and 800 hay bales, he also grows 26ha of barley. Some of that is baled green to provide 300 arable bales and the remainder then taken through to harvest and combined, giving about 400 straw bales.


Being a key machine, John aims to replace the baler every five years, by which time they will have made about 20,000 bales. Claas balers bought through Sellars have been a feature on the farm for many years, starting with a Rollant 250, followed by a 255, 355 and the 375 prior to the new 540, which arrived in late July.


“The Rollant is a well proven baler, that’s reliable, easy to use and makes a good, well filled bale. They also hold their value well, so the overall cost of use is low. Before deciding, Sellars arranged for me to have a demonstration and the new 540 did everything that Dustin Bishop (field sales manager at Sellars, in Forres) said it would.”



“The new baler has a great crop flow into the baler and there are a lot of other small improvements throughout that, when combined, lead to a major refinement. The autolube system means that about 95% of maintenance is done for you and the centralised greasing makes daily maintenance simple.


“Overall, it makes a really well filled bale and the other key feature of all Rollant balers is the net wrapping system, which is bombproof. It’s so reliable – you can just keep going all day and it never causes a problem.


“The net chute is a huge benefit and makes loading rolls of net far easier and means you can safely swop rolls in just a couple of minutes.”


Farming on the edge of the Cairngorms, the biggest factor is weather. “By having my own machinery and not being reliant on a contractor, I can make the most of any good conditions and do as much or as little as the weather allows.


“My silage season starts around June 20 and takes about a month, by which time the hay is ready to cut, which then leads into the arable baling and harvest.


“All told, the baler is being used for about four months and is responsible for packaging all my winter feed, so is very cost-effective. Having quality forage is important, as I generally need to feed from around September 15 through to May 15, so it’s a long winter.”


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