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Buckets, grapples, forks and blades: Wheel loader attachment options

Aaron Kleingartner for Progressive Dairy Published on 18 January 2022

A wheel loader can be one of the most versatile products in a dairy producer’s equipment fleet. Wheel loaders can perform a variety of tasks quickly and efficiently, whether you’re loading grain in a mixer, clearing snow or hauling manure.

Another benefit of operating a wheel loader on dairy farms is the increased visibility a wheel loader provides. When working around animals, employees and other equipment, visibility is key. Today’s wheel loaders offer exceptional visibility to the front and sides, which is vital to employee and animal safety.

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Dairy producers can choose from a variety of wheel loader attachments and extend the versatility of the machine, whether you need a large-capacity bucket to lift and carry material, a grapple to move hay bales or a blade to clear snow.

Bucket options

One of the most important attachments for a wheel loader is a bucket. A wheel loader is the ideal machine for moving animal feed ingredients such as hay or grain for silage. Since animal feed is of a low density, a large bucket may be required to haul it. The wheel loader’s high reach ability allows operators to efficiently load the material into a mixer.

There are many different bucket options available for wheel loader owners. A couple of the most used attachments in agriculture are standard buckets or light-material buckets. A rollout bucket is a top recommendation, especially in dairy production.

Other attachment choices

A wheel loader can also be paired with a pallet fork. A pallet fork allows a machine operator to off-load palletized materials that are delivered to the farm. Additionally, a grapple provides a wheel loader operator the ability to grab and move hay and other types of loose materials.

A quick coupler is a popular wheel loader feature because it allows operators to easily switch from one attachment to another. For example, if a wheel loader needs to switch buckets, a quick coupler makes the switching process much more efficient. While it once might have taken an hour to attach a traditional pin-on bucket to one machine, a quick coupler can handle that task in about 30 seconds.

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If a wheel loader is used to haul animal feed, onboard scales are available as an option for some machines and allow an operator to know exactly how much material is in the bucket. Some manufacturers have implemented onboard weighing systems into their standard LCD screen. Others may require an additional monitor that can be mounted in the cab near the existing display for easy readability.

If multiple feedstuffs are being combined, a wheel loader can work in tandem with a mixer to build feed rations for the animals. A feed ration is designed to provide the best balance of nutrients to animals. Some animal feed may have a higher nutritional value than others. Having the right balance of nutrients is especially important for dairy production, as it creates the best milk production capability for those animals. A wheel loader with the right-sized bucket makes sure the proper amount of each feed ingredient is added to the mixer.

When it comes to removing animal waste and other cleanup tasks, various blades can easily take care of pushing and piling the material. A wheel loader paired with a bucket can stockpile manure or load it in a spreader or truck. It’s important to note that if an operator is working with animal waste, a different attachment should be used to haul animal feed to avoid contaminating ingredients.

Some attachments are designed specifically for agricultural work. For example, a silage defacer is a rotating drum that is used on the front face of a silage pile to break it up, making the material looser and easier to transport and feed to the animals.

Maintaining attachments

If an attachment has maintenance points, such as grease or pivot points, it’s vital to ensure they are properly greased according to the operation and maintenance manual recommendation. They should be kept as clean as possible, despite the typically dirty working environment they may operate in. If not kept clean, attachments may rust and may not last as long.

Keeping an eye out for potential maintenance issues is important when using wheel loader attachments. Attachments, especially buckets, can get chipped or cracked while working. Identifying these issues early allows for a quicker and smoother repair or replacement process.

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Choosing an attachment

When deciding which attachments to purchase, take a moment and evaluate your machine. Ask yourself:

  1. Is the attachment compatible with my wheel loader?
  2. What auxiliary hydraulic requirements does the attachment have?
  3. How does the attachment connect to my wheel loader?

Doing research and discussing your needs with your sales specialist are the keys to successfully purchasing the right attachments for your wheel loader. Once the attachments are on, the working possibilities of a wheel loader can be endless.  end mark

PHOTO: Staff photo.

Aaron Kleingartner
  • Aaron Kleingartner

  • Product and Dealer Marketing Manager
  • Doosan Infracore North America

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