Zetor earns its stripes with pedigree suckler herd
This somewhat dismissive attitude is not particularly fair to either the farmer, who often has particular requirements, or the manufacturer, which is working to fulfil them.
Focus on cattle rearing
One such farmer wanting a tractor to meet basic needs without frills is Tom Bowe of Durrow, Co. Laois, who runs a pedigree herd of Limousin cattle alongside Charolais and more commercial animals.
Tom is a dedicated stockman through and through, and his interest is primarily in the welfare and breeding of the animals he successfully sells to a loyal customer base.
The farm tractor is a necessary tool rather than an object of veneration; it needs to do the tasks required reliably, without the need for constant attention to electronic systems which may benefit the dedicated fans of technology, but can otherwise get in the way of the operator.
The Zetor Proxima HS120 which serves on Tom’s farm is the ideal match for his enterprise he believes, for it fits into his system rather than dictating what that system should be.
In support of the suckler herd, Tom grows 12ac of barley and 12ac of oats, both of which are fed as concentrates to the animals while the straw is retained for feeding and bedding.
Forage provision is a mix of clamp silage, hay and haylage, a feed which is given to the the animals at the peak of their production cycle.
The clamp silage is left entirely to a local contractor who runs a Claas Jaguar and fleet of New Holland tractors to keep up with it. The tillage, dung spreading and baling are also jobs left to outside help.
Zetor kept busy
Despite this reliance on contractors, the Zetor still clocks up an average of 500 hours a year filling in the gaps.
The three heaviest tasks it undertakes are mowing, slurry spreading and pulling a 14t dump trailer, which is often the case in the summer as the farm track and drainage networks are upgraded.
Other than working with the dump trailer, where Tom thinks it is pretty much at its limit, the 120hp Proxima copes perfectly well with all that is asked of it with power to spare.
Mowing is done with a 2.8m Krone without a conditioner which reduces the power requirement on its first pass, wilting is encouraged through several passes with a tedder before baling.
While the lack of conditioning may appear to slow the process down, there is no doubt that the result is hugely impressive with a very sweet smelling forage that the cows in early lactation thrive on.
While it meets all his needs out in the field, around the yard the tractor is compact and manoeuvrable.
Big heavy tractors are not yard friendly Tom feels, and the Zetor is large enough to do the jobs required, but remains small enough to fit into buildings and not bump into walls.
Reliability has never been an issue. It has started and worked perfectly every day with no electronics to pander to before it fires up.
The only problem in 18 months of ownership has been a snapped hitch release cable, which may have been a case of it being nipped at some point rather than an inherent weakness.
It is no secret that Zetor has had a rough time over the past few years, with annual sales down to single figures at one point.
This is unfortunate, for the company has been producing tractors since 1946 and has a tremendous legacy in Ireland with the Crystal being the foundation stone of more contracting businesses than is generally admitted to.
This particular tractor was sold to Tom by Michael Brennan of Castlecomer, who represents a new breed of Zetor dealer in that he is totally dedicated to the brand and a huge enthusiast of the machines in general.
Tom replaces his tractors every four or five years with this being his fifth Zetor. Judging by his overall satisfaction with his latest purchase, there will be a sixth along when the time for the next renewal comes around.