The Round Baler
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|Posted on September 5, 2018 at 7:20 PM||comments (297)|
One of the original sellers for round bales was the fact they could shed water. Round bales were often times left in the field till they were needed. As round balers evolved, so did the way they were stored.
The most common way of storage today is outside in rows, preserving the hay on the ends of the bales but still losing hay on the outer edge. Net wrap has made this a more viable option as it protects more of the hay than twine wrapped bales. It is essential when storing the bales in rows, to leave space, enough to walk, between the rows to prevent molding. It is also important to make sure the bales are dry enough so they don’t heat up, which will ruin the hay.
Some people choose to store their bales outside under a tarp. They are generally stacked three high in a pyramid shape, and a tarp placed covering over the stack. Make sure to use a good tarp with no holes and to secure it down properly. If the tarp rips or comes off you may end up with a messy pile of hay. This option can be difficult for areas that experience high winds, as the tarps will get ripped apart in no time.
Another way to store round bales is inside a barn. This is the best option for dry hay as it preserves the most hay, although many people do not have room for round bales, as they can take up quite a bit of room. Most people place pallets, or something similar, underneath the bales to prevent molding at the surface, and allow the hay to breathe. It is best to place the hay facing upward as high as you can, generally two or three bales high in most pole barns, than if needed you can place another row on top facing outward. Make sure you have the proper equipment to stack the bales, as many smaller tractors can be dangerous to stack hay this high.
Balage has become an increasingly popular option over the past couple of decades and rows and stacks of white marshmallow looking bales can be seen all over the countryside. Balage bales,similar to haylage, are baled with a higher moisture content and then wrapped shortly after with plastic. There are two more popular types of wrappers, inline and individual. Inline wrappers are known for their speed, as they wrap bales end to end in a row, which is nice for dairy farms but can be difficult for smaller farms as the bales will mold if not used quick enough. Inline wrappers can wrap the bales in the field one at a time, much slower than inlines, they can then be stacked with the help of a bale hugger and can be fed individually without issues of molding. Another option is to wrap dry hay. The hay is wrapped in the same manner, but you have to make sure the hay is dry enough, usually it is best to let it sweat out by letting it sit for a week or so, or anyways the hay could mold inside the wrap.
However you store your hay the key is to bale it at the right moisture content, and to make properly shaped bales. Many farmers now use a combination of these options depending on the different qualities of their hay. Always keep safety in mind especially when stacking bales above your head.
|Posted on August 28, 2018 at 7:25 PM||comments (93)|
The key to making a baler last is maintenance. With proper maintenance a round baler can last for many, many thousands of bales without trouble. Maintaining your baler is also key to preventing fires, usually caused by bad bearings. It is best to read your owner's manual carefully and follow its suggested procedures.
Before a day of baling, go through the baler and check all bearings, make sure your belts are in working condition and your tires are properly inflated. Next you should grease all zerks on the baler including any on the pto driveline. For greasing I recommend purchasing the LockNLube Grease Coupler (https://amzn.to/2BXZdvX), this saves a lot of time and grease as the grease goes in the zerk instead of all over the place. It has saved me a lot of frustration and makes greasing equipment a little enjoyable, a little. Next you should oil your chains and check them to assure their in proper condition. Also check all hydraulic hoses and fittings for leaks. Lastly make sure your pickup head is set to the proper height.
While baling keep a close eye on your belts to make sure they're tracking properly. Also watch your pickup head for obstructions or broken teeth. A small blockage in your pickup head can become a big issue real fast. Periodically check your bearings to prevent a baler fire. I use a Laser Infrared Thermometer (https://amzn.to/2LBWEz4) to check the temperatures of each bearing, just compare it against the other bearings, if one is abnormally high, you may have a problem. Also if you have a full day of baling you should grease the baler again, usually easiest to do around lunch time.
After you’ve finished baling for the day check over the baler, and clean the dust, dirt and hay off of it. Many people use leaf blowers to do it, which I,ve heard works quite well, some use pressure washers, I use a wand that attaches to my air compressor, called a Nozzle Blow Gun(https://amzn.to/2BYnxxI). However you do it, it is a dirty, dusty job and you may want to wear a mask and safety glasses. It is necessary to keep your baler clean as round balers have a tendency to accumulate dirt and old hay.
|Posted on August 23, 2018 at 6:00 PM||comments (187)|
Many people find that square bales are easier to sell in their area, as they are the preferred choice by many horse owners. They often think about how if they could make round bales they could cut down on their labor costs considerably. In many areas it’s hard to find help to unload and stack small squares and the cost of equipment for stacker systems or large square balers can not be justified by most small farmers. Round balers can often be run by tractors already on the farm and good used round balers can be found for around $15k. Round balers are also good if you’re trying to beat the rain, as you don’t have to worry about getting them under cover, like small squares that will be ruined if it rains much at all. But in order for any of this to be any good for you, you must be able to sell the finished product, the round bales.
If you’re currently selling small squares then you should check with your current customers if they’d like round bales instead, many that are equipped for them may consider it when they figure in how much time and money they can save. You may take a profit cut but after you figure in the reduction in labor costs you may come out ahead with round bales. Also branch out, if there are many dairy farms and/or Amish farms in the area they tend to require a lot of hay to get through the winter.
One option to consider is individually wrapping the bales to make balage bales. If you don’t have a bale wrapper often times you can hire it done or rent one locally for the time being. Balage bales can bring as much as double dry bales, depending on your area. If you can get connected with a local dairy farmer you may even be able to line wrap the bales at their farm. This is a good option for those that don’t want to have to deal with handling the bales all winter, and can save everybody a lot of hassle.
Another option to look at is to get certified organic. Organic dairy and beef operations are getting more popular and are required to buy certified organic hay. Certified hay brings a premium and generally has less competition in the market. All grass-fed farms require a lot of good quality hay to raise their livestock. This option is also a great combination with balage, and can be a lucrative option. The biggest hurdle in getting certified is the pile of paperwork, many farms already qualify for immediate certification, and others that don’t have to wait a year after all the paperwork is finished.
As with any business the first step to selling round bales, is to make connections with potential customers and those that communicate with potential customers (hardware store owners, dealerships, cattle haulers, e.t.c). If you start with some round bales, you can start building a customer base while still making money off of your squares. Much of this is area dependent and the best thing to do is to talk with the local farmers in your area and get feel for the market. If you purchase a round baler you may also find yourself busy doing custom work. If you’re a custom baler or looking for a custom baler, please visit Custom Baler page.
|Posted on August 16, 2018 at 6:40 PM||comments (184)|
To make good solid round bales you want a nice consistent windrow. We’ve all baled poorly made windrows before and it is aggravating to say the least. There's a few things to consider when deciding how to make a windrow.
To Rake or not to Rake
Many people who make balage bales simply set their mower-conditioners to make a narrow windrow, then bale it when it reaches the right moisture content. This can be an effective method and can save time and possible leaf loss by minimizing moving the hay. This method also creates inconsistently dried hay and will take longer to bale. Raking the hay fluffs it, dries it more uniformly and can save valuable time on the baler.
Types of Rakes
There are three main types of rakes in the U.S. side delivery/bar, wheel and rotary. Side delivery/bar rakes have been the norm for almost a century and can still be found on farms across the country. They are generally ground driven and have bars with tines on them to move the hay into a windrow. They tend to rope the hay some but are fairly easy to use and maintain. Wheel rakes, also called speed rakes or v-rakes, are known for their speed in the field and can make consistent windrows. Wheel rakes also tend to rope the hay and are the cheapest to buy new out of the three. Rotary rakes make fluffy windrows that lets the breeze through them for excellent drying. They are usually PTO driven and are more complex than the other types of rakes. They also are on the higher end of the price spectrum. When deciding what type of rake to buy, its best to ask local farmers as every area is different and different rakes may work better in your area.
How to Rake
No matter what type of rake you have it is essential to make a nice windrow in order to make quality bales. If using a single rake, (meaning the hay goes to one side of the rake) and you want to double your windrows together, it is best to rake each windrow next to each other so they are hardly touching and approximately 4 foot wide or 5 foot wide depending on your balers pickup, doing this will eliminate the need to weave when baling and will result in solid bales with square corners. If you are using a center delivery rake,such as a v-rake or two side delivery rakes, you want to set the width of the windrow to match your balers pickup head. Also be sure you don’t try to put too much hay into one windrow as this can cause issues with the baler, such as plugging which trust me, once you’ve spent an hour unplugging a baler pickup in the dusty summer heat, you will learn that lesson real quick.
However you make your windrow it's mostly trial and error, and many operators have different preferences. If you are raking hay for a custom baler it is best to check with them to see how they like their hay raked, they will definitely thank you!
|Posted on August 9, 2018 at 6:45 PM||comments (240)|
Being a custom operator is a tough business, between breakdowns, uncooperating weather and disgruntled customers, it takes thick skin, optimism and a little stubbornness, to stay in business. Most people who custom bale, started out by helping neighbors and building a good reputation for making a quality bale for a fair price, before it rained. It’s not for everybody, and before you decide to start your own operation there's a few things you should consider.
The main ingredient for being a custom baler is to actually own a baler! It is recommended to have experience running a baler as well in order to satisfy the customer. You want equipment that is dependable, the last thing you want to do is being broke down in a field with customers calling you complaining about the incoming storm. When first starting out new equipment may be out of the question, but you should look at equipment that has a good local reputation and is easy to work on, because even a brand new baler or tractor will have its breakdowns.
Once you have the equipment you need the clientele, to start make money. Most people start off by helping a broken down neighbor or the horse lady who does 4 acres a year. While these jobs seem insignificant, a happy customer will spread the word and it is well known that word of mouth is by far the best advertisement. If you do quality work it won’t be long before you’ll be so busy you’ll be looking at better equipment to make the work go faster.
If you live in an area with many hobby farmers and few custom balers, you have a pretty good market. On the contrary if you live in an area with mostly large farms, getting into the custom business will be difficult as most either have their own equipment of hire large custom operations that hire on a dozen or more men. Also areas with a large Amish population can be a great market as some groups hire a lot of their field work done and tend to have smaller size jobs, that are good for a newbie.
Custom baling takes a lot of time and is very weather dependent. Some days you may have 30 hours worth of work and others you may be sitting watching the rain come down. Having a regular 9-5 job doesn’t fit in well when it comes to making hay. As the saying goes “make hay while the sunshines”, the weather and your customers will not wait for you to get out of work or for you to watch your sons little league game.
If you have the equipment, the clientele and the time, custom baling can be a good business. Don’t forget though, to plan for unexpected breakdowns, because they will happen. Also leaving a clean field, with no loose hay on it, leaves a good impression. The main thing is to make quality hay and keep the customers happy,and you’ll build up a solid business quicker than you’d expect.
|Posted on August 2, 2018 at 6:35 PM||comments (201)|
In recent years mni round balers, also called roto-balers, have invaded the U.S. Originating in Asia these small balers produce bales ranging from 2'x2' in size to 4'x4' and 40lbs to 800lbs in weight. They can be bought with either twine or net wrap, wrapping mechanisms, like their bigger cousins. They are fixed chambers with rollers forming the bale. The smaller ones make bales approximatley the same size as the average small square baler, somewhat resembling the bales from the old Allis-Chalmers Roto-Balers.
The balers connect to the tractor either by the three point hitch or just the drawbar. Three point hitch models can be difficult for smaller tractors to lift and can cause trouble on corners. The balers can be run with as little as 15HP at the PTO (depending on the model). They are built simply and are fairly easy to use for beginning farmers. There are now also self-propelled models that you walk behind, 'that may be best suited for farmers with only a couple acres.
Due to their smaller size and shorter pickup head, usually around 30" on the smaller models, you must make a fairly small windrow, so when shopping for a mower or rake you will want to stick with models on the short side.
Mini round bales are superior to square bales for shedding water and can be stored outside for a period of time without molding like squarebales. Mini round balers are a good choice for hobby farms that can't justify the cost or upkeep of a larger baler for their small operation and can't get custom operators there when they need them.
|Posted on September 30, 2017 at 6:35 PM||comments (91)|
Vermeer has initroduced the worlds first self propelled round baler, the ZR5. The ZR5 fearures zero-turn technoledgy, similar to a zero-turn lawn mower. The ZR5 is designed to make a 5' by 6' bale although other sizes are epected to be released in the futute. This is just a prototype and Vermeer is epected to imrove upon the design even more.
With it's zero-turn capabilities the ZR5 has the ability to jump to another windrow quickly, without needing to make wide turns or skipping windrows, saving much time especially in small and irregaular sized fields.The zero-raius turning can be turned off to steer withh just the front wheels like a normal vehicle making transport easier. Vermeer also has a new patent-pending suspension system that is supposed to make baling hay smoother than ever.
When the bale is finished the ZR5 can automatically turn perpendicular to the windrow, positioning the bale parallel to the windrow, saving as much as 35% of your time to pick up the bales. The operator has to push only one button to stop, wrap,dump,and resume baling.
The baler will mostly likely be puchased by large scale and custom balers, who currently rely on many operators to get their hay baled. A lack of labor in agriculture continues to lead innovation in the industry.
Vermeer plans to have the ZR5 available for customer testing in 2018 and be available for purchase in 2019.
|Posted on September 10, 2017 at 7:20 PM||comments (237)|
New Holland Agriculture has released a new fixed chamber baler consisting of a chain and slat bale chamber. When New Holland started making round balers they used a similar design, but exited the fixed-chamber market in the early nineties. These new balers are aimed at small farmers and weekend hay producers. They are built with economy in mind, with a starting price in the mid-twenties. They are designed to be used with low horsepower tractors, with as low as 40HP at the PTO.
They are simple balers, and are easy to work on.They are built to handle balage bales and can bale hay with a moisture content of up to 80%. There are currently three models in the lineup, the 4’x4’ RF440, 4’x5’ RF450 and the RF450 SuperFeed™ baler, which features a wider pickup, an undershot rotor feeder and seven bale chamber rolls. The RF series balers are also expected to be popular among the Amish communiies, as they like simple machines and many seem to have a loyalty to the New Holland brand, due partially to geographics. New Holland continues to build for small farmers, going against the trend to ignore the little guys, and build larger and more expensive machines.
|Posted on September 4, 2017 at 7:00 PM||comments (199)|