Cat® Telehandlers Keep Diverse Agricultural Contractors Running

“A modern farm business doesn’t work without materials handlers,” says Chris Heslop bluntly. “A diverse farm like ours is absolutely dependent on them.”

Heslop, owner of Willow Farm Contractors in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, knows what he’s talking about. The two telehandlers he currently deploys each clock up nearly 2,000 hours a year, handling a huge variety of tasks. To describe the farm as ‘diverse’ doesn’t really do it justice. “We own about 150 acres and contract farm another 1500. We grow potatoes, sugar beet, wheat, barley and beans. Then there’s beef cattle, a commercial sheep flock and 700 milking ewes.

“Potatoes go to McCain’s (a foodservice brand known for their prepared potato and appetizer products) for chipping; they demand high quality and year-round supply. Meanwhile Sheep Milk UK buys the ewes’ milk, selling to UK cheesemakers who supply the big multiples but also export to the USA.”

Mucking out, feeding, straw and hay handling, loading potatoes and grain, unloading seed and fertiliser: just a few of the everyday jobs.

“We can’t manage on a farm like this nowadays, without telehandlers working flat-out.”


The Solution

“It’s no exaggeration to say that everything that arrives on, or leaves, this farm goes through one of those telehandlers,” laughs Chris.

Having tried other competitors’ machines, Caterpillar’s engineering strengths shone through; the two current telehandlers are a Cat® TH336C and a TH407C. “The Cat is very good on the hydraulics and they seem much more stable than other machines we tried – they’re very good at keeping their feet on the floor,” notes Chris.

“Grip is brilliant, particularly when loading muck spreaders or doing field work of any sort. They’re also very good on the road – we do a lot of road work, hauling straw and so on; they’re very good at towing.

“As with any machine, there is the occasional problem – but that’s the same with any machine nowadays; there’s a lot of electronics.

“The important thing is that the dealer is good. We can ring them up at any time of the day or night and they’ll sort us out and get us going again.”

The Results

Keeping these machines so busy and in constant work soon adds up. The 407 now has 10,500hrs and the 336 nearly 8,000hrs.

“I’m looking to replace the 407, so I’ve been trialling a 408D. I’ve noticed a few differences with the new model, which is great. Most significant is the improvement in visibility – it’s tremendous. They’ve lifted the cab slightly, so you can see all around, even that back right-hand corner which is so notorious for telehandlers.

“The controls are better too. The joystick is nicer to use, it’s more comfortable in your hand.

“The extended reach is most impressive – eight metres as opposed to seven – yet the machine seems no bigger at all and with the added visibility I’d say it’s actually nimbler to use.




“You’re taking to the wrong man when it comes to technology,” he jokes, but he recognises the value of it in the Cat. “Engine self-diagnosis, the reversing camera, motion sensors – it’s great to have it all.”

That technology shows itself in other ways too, for Chris is also committed to the ‘bigger picture’. “We’re doing everything we can to be sustainable,” he enthuses. “Caterpillar’s commitment to fuel efficiency – the Tier 4 engines, Ad Blue to keep emissions down – fits with our business philosophy.

“At the end of the day,’ says Chris, “this farm only runs because of its machines. Labour’s difficult to find. Costs are going up. We can’t afford to have any downtime and that’s why we stick with the Cat loader.”


Cat® Agriculture Product Solutions


When your ranch or farm relies on Cat® agriculture machines, you can be assured you’re backed by the full commitment of your Cat dealer. Whether you need service and support or financing, Caterpillar makes it simple for you.

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Cat® Telehandlers


Superior design and advanced features combine to give Cat® Telehandlers the best all-around visibility and take the lead in lift and reach capability. Top performance, rugged construction for reliability and durability with low operating costs.

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