King of the Choppers
By: James Kingston
At Lamb farms in Oakfield, NY on August 27th there was a heavy weight fight between the 4 manufacturers of self propelled choppers sold here in the United States. Each manufacturer elected to bring their highest horsepower unit to determine which machine has the highest capacity while putting out top quality silage. Ranging from 800 hp to 1,020 hp the event drew in a crowd of over 200 people. Dealers brought individuals from as far as Iowa and California to operate these choppers.
Each machine was set up to chop the corn at the same chop length and kernel processing. Samples were taken from each machine and shaker box tests were performed to ensure quality forage was being chopped. The 4 units chopped 3 timed runs into trucks that were weighed to determine tons/hour and tons/hour/HP. The 3 runs were averaged to determine each choppers capacity.
Efficiencies and Economics Comparison
The Krone had the highest capacity filling a 10 wheeler truck with corn silage in around one minute. But, the Krone Big X 1000 has at least 160 more horsepower than the other competitors. The Claas gained bragging rights chopping .46 tons (920lbs) of silage per hour for every horsepower. The other 3 units were all very close ranging from .40 to .42 tons/hr/hp. This event was exciting to watch, witnessing the operators push these powerful machines to their limits. However, if these choppers were pushed to these extremes day in and day out in the real world, break-downs and longevity may become problems. The field days chop-off results must be viewed as a snapshot of chopper performance using new equipment of varying horsepower on a perfect day in a level field harvesting 32% (68% moisture) corn. All choppers proved their ability to produce silage of excellent quality in the set up process. The experience of operators varied widely amongst the four units. No means of evaluating fuel consumption per ton was attempted.
Most of our larger dairies in WNY have choppers in the 500 to 600 Hp range. The capacity of any of these 4 larger choppers necessitates a lot of trucks avoid the chopper’s idle time With well over 300 tons of silage coming into the bunk each hour packing would also become a major issue. Unless the farm is set up with the right bunks, a good number of trucks, several packing tractors, and the right number of people these units may be over kill. Picking a chopper that fits the operation from a reliable dealership that will provide service when needed could be more important than capacities. At the event, two well known, respected farmers told me they both switched manufacturers for service reasons. Capacity doesn’t mean much when the machine is broken-down in the field with inactive trucks waiting.
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