chaffcutter

A horse-powered chaffcutter from Bricklands Farm, East Grinstead, has been installed in the lower end of the stable. It was manufactured in Chard, Somerset, probably between 1885 and 1910, and was in active use on the farm until 1939. It was donated to the Museum in 1968.

Chaffcutters are used to cut straw and hay into short lengths for mixing with horsefeed, and previously cattlefeed, during the winter months. Whilst numerous examples of hand-driven chaffcutters exist, horse-powered cutters are more unusual. The horse, in a trace harness connected to the wooden shaft, walks around the horse gin (located outside the stable) causing the large crown wheel to revolve and turn the pinion and drive-shaft at a much increased speed. The drive speed is increased still further by means of an increasing ratio, also located outside the stable.

The drive then operates the chaffcutter. By way of the long wooden feedbox, the hay or straw is fed between two revolving toothed rollers. These force the feed onto the large flywheel on which are bolted two blades, which cut the straw or hay to the length required. The chaff then falls to the ground, where it is shovelled into sacks ready for use.