Chapin Family Farms, LLC was founded by William H. Chapin in 1916. Over one hundred years later, Sam Chapin and his father, Doug, continue to keep the tradition alive. Today, the operation milks 700 cows, raises 700 heifers and feeds out 200 steers. They also grow a variety of crops, including alfalfa, corn, wheat, winter triticale, sorghum, peas, oats and some soybeans.
The operation has 19 employees, including five Chapin family members. They include Sam’s wife, Micah; father Doug; his mom Cheri; and his younger brother, Will. Sam returned to the farm full time in 2008. Sam is now the farm manager and helped the farm achieve its current operational status. The Chapin’s use several pieces of KUHN equipment on their farm.
“Personally, I can’t remember not having KUHN equipment on the farm,” explained Chapin.
While the Chapins have multiple pieces of KUHN equipment, but they especially appreciate their two KUHN MM 300 Merge Maxx® hay mergers. They bought their first merger in 2010, and purchased a second machine in 2017 due to the success of the first.
“I like the overall reliability of the machine. Other than some wear and tear from age on the hydraulic hoses and conveyor belt, the machine is great. Transport is simple and so is overall operation. Just about any employee on Chapin Family Farms can operate it,” stated Chapin.
The KUHN MM 300 hay merger provides the cleanest and most efficient way to gather high-quality forage. The reason behind Chapin’s purchase? He needed a merger that could accommodate his mowers.
“At the time, we needed a machine that could merge almost any width of windrow to meet the needs of our 15-foot and 19-foot mowers. We also needed a machine that could handle heavy windrows since we merge five-to-one for alfalfa cuttings,” said Chapin.
They are able to quickly merge multiple swaths into one for improved harvester efficiency. KUHN mergers produce the smoothest, easiest-harvesting windrows with the high-capacity pickup and windguard on the machine.
“The high-capacity pickups work great in alfalfa and are an absolute must for the heavy windrows in the sorghum, peas and oats we harvest,” stated Chapin.
The commercially built pickups in the MM 300 treat the crop gently, yet are designed and tested for extreme use. Chromoly tine bars greatly improve strength and wearing characteristics. The dual-cam design, with heavy-duty sealed followers, provides long life in the toughest conditions. Another feature that Chapin has found useful on the machine is the control box.
“The control box makes operation for us simple and efficient. You never have to leave the tractor, which means few to no slowdowns and a safer working experience. The option of the fold-out extension allowed us to move up to a larger mower without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a larger merger,” explained Chapin. “We constantly use the conveyor side-shift function depending on the field, cutting or obstacles (such as power poles and pivots being in the way). The control box allows us to more easily adjust to these changing variables with relative ease.”
The optional electrohydraulic controls manage merger functions on the go; fine-tune pickup speed, gather crop at end rows, shift the conveyor and engage the optional extension, all conveniently from the tractor seat. Another component of the merger that Chapin likes is the heavy-duty conveyor.
“Without the heavy-duty conveyor, the merger would fail. The conveyor is low maintenance. As long as your tension is good, you can handle the heavy windrows.”
The 15-degree angled conveyor provides a seamless transition for the crop as it comes off the pickup. This allows the full capacity of the belt to be utilized, in addition to naturally inverting the crop upon discharge. But one of the biggest highlights of the merger for Chapin has been the cost and time savings.
“Every operation has a goal of saving time and money. This machine does both. When you’re paying a custom operator $500/hour, there’s no time to waste. We chop four cuttings of alfalfa across 400 acres a year. Without our KUHN hay mergers, we would be paying an additional $3,000 to $4,000 per cutting,” said Chapin.
The MM 300 is built to last and provides operators with years of low maintenance. The rugged design increases operator peace of mind and protects the machine’s resale value.
Most successful farm operations have a reliable, quality dealership that they turn to for their equipment needs. For Chapin Family Farms this is Burnips Equipment Company in Big Rapids, Mich.
Other equipment used on the Chapin operation includes three KUHN Knight ProTwin® Slinger® side-discharge manure spreaders. Along with that, they have a rotary rake to complement their mergers and help with forage harvesting. With all these pieces of machinery, Chapin speaks highly of his KUHN equipment because he knows that it can get the job done.
“It’s equipment that’s ready for ‘Go Mode’ on the farm. Whether we are merging hundreds of acres in a small window of two days or spreading a million gallons of manure in a window of five days, we rely on KUHN equipment year in and year out.”