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The Howletts and Port Lympne wild animal parks have chosen to use Kubota tractors and mowers to deal with the large amounts of grass cutting and a variety of other tasks.

The Howletts Wild Animal Park covers 90 acres of amenity parkland, most of which is flat terrain.

Horticulture manager David Sutton and his staff use a Kubota BX2350 sub-compact tractor for more than 90 per cent of the grass cutting.

The machine replaced an elderly lawn tractor that has been retained as a back-up.

The BX2350 is said to make light work of everything from coping with rough areas of grassland to car parks, lawns and picnic areas, and its compact size makes it suitable for getting into tight spots such as areas around the animal enclosures.

‘With an extended grass growing season, possibly caused by climate change, the mower does a full day’s work every day, with some areas needing cutting twice during the peak growing season,’ said Sutton.

During winter months the Kubota acts as a general workhorse, pulling three-quarter tonne and one-tonne trailers loaded with tools and materials for the gardeners, including hauling leaves, mulch and compost.

Before making the decision to buy the Kubota, Howletts had the machine on trial for a week, as well as testing out another model.

‘The Kubota had a lot more going for it,’ said Sutton.

‘It was a better size, more compact – allowing it to work under trees – but with a similar engine size.

‘It also appeared better built and my own previous experience with Kubota confirmed its reliability.

‘Its versatility will allow us to use various attachments with it in the future,’ he added.

While it was on demonstration, the park was hit by a heavy snowfall and the tractor’s bucket came in handy for snow-clearing duties.

The BX2350 is a rugged sub-compact tractor featuring a 23hp three-cylinder diesel and 4WD traction for multiple uses.

Equipped with hydrostatic power steering, cruise control and mid-mounted deck with three widths, it is designed to deliver high productivity and optimum operator efficiency for all-year-round working.

As well as the BX2350, Howletts’ Carnivore department uses a smaller Kubota G2160 garden mower for grass cutting in and around several animal enclosures.

With a 21hp Kubota ETVCS diesel engine and heavy-duty chassis, the G2160 is built for the most demanding use.

Standard equipment includes a hydraulic mower lift, electronic power steering, easy reach dial type adjustment for cutting height and a quick attach mower.

In sharp contrast to the mainly flat ground at Howletts, the 600-acre site at Port Lympne covers large areas of extremely hilly terrain.

The animal park was developed around the Port Lympne estate.

The garden staff use a 21hp Kubota B2110 tractor to keep the grass down in most of the public areas, which are both flat and hilly, including two large car parks that cover a total of 15 acres.

It also works inside some of the smaller animal paddocks and in areas around trees, horticulture manager Jeremy Edmond said that as well as grass cutting, his team of gardeners uses the B2110 to pull trailers full of tools and materials such as grass cuttings and wood chippings.

It also replaced an elderly machine that had become unreliable, with around 30 per cent downtime.

‘In the peak grass-growing period, the Kubota can work for up to three days at stretch; it works as well on sloping ground as it does on the flat,’ said Edmond.

The mowers were supplied by local Kubota tractor and groundcare equipment dealer, Lister Wilder of Ashford, which provided a good after-sales service, according to the parks.

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