Customer Focus: Flint Hall Farm, Manitou Telehandlers

Superb handling performance and dependable support from the Crawfords team mean Manitou remains the only option for a large Surrey livestock farm.

“Until we bought our first Manitou telehandler second-hand from a neighbouring farmer, I was convinced that we only needed a tractor and loader,” said livestock farmer John Berryman, who trades as Flint Hall Farm. “Now we couldn’t operate without our three modern Manitous, each working 1,200 hours per year.”

John Berryman and his son Jack, with one of their three Manitou handlers.

Up to 1,400 cattle, including 180–200 suckler cows, make up the Berryman’s herd, which is split between three farms – two in the same village near Godstone and another recently purchased, which is just over the border in Kent. The cattle are mostly Continental Limousin and Charolais, and, as well as calves bred on the farm, stores are bought in for fattening.

Although beef cattle are the leading enterprise, there are also arable crops, including maize, wheat, barley, fodder beet, and grass. Approximately 175 ha of cereals, including 50 ha of barley, are milled and fed as part of a TMR. Some wheat is sold, the maize is for silage, and fodder beet is grown for feed. All the straw is baled for bedding, and manure is returned to the fields.
Over the winter, up to 200 cattle graze outside on 10 ha of light, sandy land, which drains quickly after rain. Straw and feed supplement the limited supply of grass.

Three-handler fleet

The Berrymans have used Manitou handlers since 2003. This autumn, the fleet increased from two machines to three, so one is always available at each of the three sites. The current fleet includes two Manitou NewAg MLT 737 130PS+ machines purchased this autumn and one bought in 2020. This model is considered ideal for the role – with a 3,700 kg maximum lift capacity, a 6.9 m maximum lift height, a 3.9 m maximum reach, and a powerful 127 hp engine.

“We usually trade them in at just under three years old, when they have worked 3,500 hours, and that is also when the tyres tend to be due for changing. However, this time we kept one machine, traded the other in and bought an additional handler for the new farm.

“These were the first supplied by the Crawfords Billingshurst depot, which is now the official dealer for our area, and we are delighted with the experience so far. The territory sales manager, James Strivens, is excellent and easy to deal with. Manitou handlers have always been reliable, and our current machines have had no major issues. Still, even minor faults have been promptly rectified by the Crawfords team.”

Manitou Telehandlers

Three Manitou NewAg MLT737 130 PS+ telehandlers are relied on by the Berryman family
which has a large beef cattle enterprise on three farms in Surrey and Kent.

Busy role

The handlers’ main tasks include feeding, loading the mixer wagon, handling bales and loading them into the chopper, mucking out and loading the spreader, and occasional building maintenance. They also load bale trailers in the field and stack them in the yard. “Occasionally, we buy straw from other farms, and then having two handlers is a significant advantage,” explained John’s son Jack. “They handle well on the road, and the boom suspension contributes to a comfortable ride. There is plenty of power, and they maintain a good speed climbing hills, so travelling long distances to load bales isn’t a problem.”

“The back-up provided by Crawfords is excellent too, so it’s very unlikely we will move away from Manitou or our local dealer.”

Preferred brand

“We have tried other brands, but nothing is as good as the Manitou,” stressed John. “For their lift capacity and reach, they are compact and manoeuvrable, making them ideal for yard use. We prefer Manitou’s one-piece door with an electric window to other machines with split doors, as split doors are never closed by operators, and the cabs get filthy inside. We also like the cut-in step, which is a big advantage. We get in and out of the cab frequently while feeding, and the step is safer and more comfortable than other handlers we have tried where it’s easy to lose grip and slip.”

Jack said he likes Manitou’s curved windscreen and protective grille design. We often handle loads at height, and there is a good view of the attachment and load through the angled slats,” he explained. “The wipers keep the entire screen clear of rain and dust too. The all-around vision is excellent.”

The air conditioning performance is superb, and there is adequate storage for odds and ends in the cab. The latest models also have drink holders, which are a helpful addition.

User-friendly controls

Jack said the Manitou’s controls are well designed. “The joystick is unbeatable. Everything is controlled with one hand, and there is one button per finger, so the driver isn’t constantly selecting alternative functions. I also like the joystick’s shape and position, as your hand naturally rests on it. When you are in the seat all day, it’s much more comfortable than other machines we have tried where the driver has to grip the controls constantly.”

The Manitou’s lift performance is highly rated, and the cycle times are fast. John commented that the handlers are exceptionally stable, and the overload protection system works well and seldom hinders normal operation.

Plenty of grunt

Besides shunting trailers in the yard, the handlers don’t do much towing. However, they are used through winter to feed cattle in the fields. Bales are carried on the front forks, and feed trailers with space to feed 13 cattle on each side are towed full to the fields and swapped with empty feed trailers, which are returned to the yard for refilling. “The trailed feeders aren’t particularly heavy, but the soft, sandy soils create a lot of resistance,” explained John. “With their torque converter powershift transmissions, our handlers have plenty of grunt, and they have no problems pulling the trailers.”

Complete package

John said that the Manitou NewAg handlers represent good value for their build quality and performance. “We would be lost without them. When we compare other brands, the Manitou handlers are never the cheapest, but they are competitively priced against similar premium brands, and we prefer them.

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