Evolution of John Deere Manure Spreaders

Sam Moore tells us about the changes to John Deere manure spreaders throughout the years.

| January 2018

  • The John Deere Model E manure spreader in all its glory.
    Photo by Sam Moore
  • The New John Deere Spreader Model D: “The Spreader with the Beater on the Axle and the Box-Roll Turn.”
    Photo by Sam Moore
  • A Deere & Co. ad from the September 1939 issue of Farm Implement News.
    Photo by Sam Moore
  • A John Deere Model B apron-type manure spreader; the “Spreader with the “Beater-on-the-Axle.”
    Photo by Sam Moore
  • A 1904 ad for the Kemp & Burpee Success manure spreader that got Deere started in the spreader business.
    Photo by Sam Moore
  • My favorite shot of a Model E spreader. The caption reads: “‘Knee deep’ in fertility is this John Deere spreader owned by Henry Stueland, Grand Mound, Iowa. Two horses do the job easily.”
    Photo by Sam Moore

The following is probably more than you ever wanted to know about horse-drawn manure spreaders offered by Deere & Co. over the years.

Deere first got into the manure spreader business in 1902, when John Deere dealers started carrying the Success spreader that was being manufactured by Kemp & Burpee Mfg. Co., Syracuse, New York. In 1910, Deere bought Kemp & Burpee and began making the Success spreader in their Marseilles plant in East Moline, Illinois.

In 1911, Theo Brown, who had earlier patented a spreader with the beater on the rear axle, was hired by Deere and put in charge of the Marseilles factory. Brown’s beater-on-the-axle spreader was introduced as Deere’s first spreader in 1912, and was sold as a Model B two-horse version, and the Model C for three horses, although the capacity of both machines was the same.

Lowest in the industry

The Model B and C machines had high rear drive wheels for plenty of traction and leverage. The beater was mounted on roller bearings on the rear axle, and was driven through three planetary gears that were enclosed and ran in oil. The wooden slat feed apron was ratchet-driven, and could be varied to apply from five to 25 loads per acre.



The beater-on-the-axle design, along with the front wheel arrangement, gave the John Deere spreader the lowest loading height in the industry; just 36 inches from the ground to the top of the box. The two small front wheels were mounted close together under the extended gooseneck frame, allowing the machine to be turned almost within its own length. Options included hitches for two, three or four horses, an end-gate, brake, tractor hitch and widespread attachment.

The new spreader’s sturdy construction, lack of complicated clutches and drive chains, and the low loading height in those days of hand loading, made it very popular with farmers.