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  1. #1
    Super Member Robert_in_NY's Avatar
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    Default I need to automate my bale handling

    I am in need to automate my bale handling system or get out of haying as I can not work like I use to. I started a thread on Ag Talk because those guys have a lot of experience with this subject. If anyone of you guys are interested in weighing in on this subject you can do so here or if anyone is curious about this subject please read up as these guys really know what they are talking about.

    Here is my original post on At talk followed by the link to my discussion there. Hopefully the moderators won't mind my link but if they feel it isn't appropriate then please remove it.

    Ok guys, I have been giving this a lot of thought and I would like your input. Some of you will remember me and know that I broke my L1 vertebre last fall and had a fairly major surgery to rebuild it and then it was fused. So I can not handle my small square bales like I use to and getting help is very hard as all of you know. So right now I still use 4 kicker wagons behind my NH 575 but I can't unload them or stack like I use to as I break down after one wagon.
    My fields are mainly in one location but I have two other fields within a couple miles. I try to deliver as much as my hay now to my customers barns just because of how much work is involved handling small square bales. I would rather put it in their barns then my own only to have to handle it again later.
    So right now I am looking at two options, quit haying which I really do not want to do but I can not go thru another year like this. Otherwise I need to upgrade to some sort of automated bale handling system.
    I am leaning towards a New Holland bale wagon as I would then build a new barn to accomodate the bale wagon unloading. If I did this route I would sell off my kicker wagons and buy a couple flat racks. Then I could just load the flat rack and park them at my customers barns when they start to get low (alternate them basically). I would be responsible for storing all the hay but that isn't too bad. I also plan on buying a 30' gooseneck for my farm and this would allow me to haul more hay to my customers barns if they wanted it stored in their place instead of mine. I could still unload in my own barn and haul later when the hay is all up and put away. I would love a self propelled unit but even used the cost is more then I really want to spend right now so I was looking at the pull type like the 1034 or 1038 so I could unload onto an elevator if I needed to (currently I have a couple places I do). But if I store all the hay in my own barn and not deliver it to my customers from the field I think a pull type would work well. If I had to deliver it all then a self propelled would be a better way.
    My other option is something like a Steffens accumulator which looks like a nice system but then I have to have a loader tractor and run all over the fields picking up hay to load on wagons or trailers. Then unless I have two tractors or a bunch of wagons I would have to haul everything to the barn to unload. It seems like it will take more time, labor and hassle so I am not too sure about it.
    So what do you guys think? Should I just quit? Go with the New Holland system or something else? What are some of the possible drawbacks to mechanical handling?
    Also, right now I am only doing about 5k bales a year because of the fact I can't get reliable help. Any more and I will be beating my head against the wall. If I automate the process I can easily jump up to 20k bales a year as long as I have a system that will let me handle that much.
    I should also say I was hoping to sell my thrower and kicker wagons to offset most of the cost for the new system (if not all). My wagons are all Pequea steel sided wagons (2- 8x18, 2- 9x18 (one is a steel frame)), my thrower is a NH 72.
    One thing I worry about with the NH bale wagon is if I have a major break down I am in trouble. I thought about possibly buying a second smaller NH bale wagon just in case but I am not sure yet. The older units are fairly cheap and for a backup unit I think it would be a smart investment. I wouldn't have to buy it immediately but it would be something I would want to buy as soon as I could afford to.
    So do you guys think I am nuts or does any of my ideas make sense? Any thoughts on what I should or shouldn't do? Look at? Avoid? Basically, whatever advice you guys can give me with experience with these systems I would appreciate.
    Thanks
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: I need to automate my bale handling

    I noticed some time ago a really decent overview of small bale handling equipment down below here a dozen posts or so on this forum. The accumulators and those 18 bale hydraulic grabbers that go on the front end loader look pretty awesome to me. As we all know, the labor of the square baling is the main aspect that hurts a fella, not just physically, but generally--labor is costly, and can be especially costly when guys don't show up when they're supposed to and rain's coming. I hate that.

    I suppose you have seen that post started by "ddivinia", but if you haven't you should have a look.

  3. #3
    Veteran Member jimg's Avatar
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    Default Re: I need to automate my bale handling

    Niji I think just getting anyone interested in shifting bales is a trick. My plan is to completely mechanize to cut the labor variable out of the equation.

  4. #4
    Elite Member zzvyb6's Avatar
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    Default Re: I need to automate my bale handling

    For that many bales, I'd want a self propelled stacker. That being said, I'd want a way to load the stack onto another trailer just in case the customer can come and get it. Or, maybe even better, shove the stack onto one of your kicker wagons (with some modification). That would require a special loading dock of some sort to shove the stack(s) onto the gooseneck.

    Stackers are great for storing the large loads but you need to interupt the loading process 1/2 way thru in order to park some bales sideways on the 2nd table to tie the stack together. Otherwise, you need a fixture in the barn to keep the stack vertical. If it comes down on you (or the neighbor or the dog), you are in a heap of hurt.

    I've never seen a NH stacker break down that you couldn't fix yourself overnight. Usually a hose, loose guide bolts on the table hinges, maybe a chain, or you ram the bale pickup into a gopher hole and bend it. Put a chain on it and find a tree.

    These tend to be maintenance nightmares because they sit so much and you forget to deal with that clank or scraping noise. Mine was creaking for a while last week, I ignored it, then the chute vertical lift chain quit. A bearing seized. Went to TSC to get a 1" bearing and within an hour I was back in business. Instead if soaking the bearing and gently hammering it off the shaft, I used a thin grinding wheel to slit the outer cage and inner race, chopped it off and slid the new one on. Its all just a matter of relative work rates.

    On the other hand, what about Large square bales, or turning large rounds into squares back at the barn. Some interesting new machinery to do this now (on YouTube).

    My method works pretty well out here: No help me, no hay 4 you, horses starve, bad nightmares, too bad. Your kids will never forgive you, guilt trip.

    But the bale wagon delivering 200+ bales to their "garage" per night works wonders. That give them time to store them wherever they want it without killing anybody.

    One other 'feature' I appreciate is being able to punch out 100+ lb bales and the stacker never complains. If I had to manage them myself, they would be too heavy. But in a delivered stack, its tonnage not number of bales, that I care about. Just be sure to keep the tires aired up.

    FWIW....
    There is no "I" in team, but there is a "Me" if you want to jumble it up a bit...

  5. #5
    Super Member Farmwithjunk's Avatar
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    Default Re: I need to automate my bale handling

    Fortunatly (or UNfortunatly depending on one's outlook) I'm at the stage of the game where my age and my ambition has determined it's time to reduce the volume of hay I put up. My son, 2 sons-in-law, and 2 grandsons are my labor force. They don't seem to mind helping ol' dad.

    But, should some miracle happen and I'd wake up tomorrow as a much younger man and my ambition to work like a rented mule would return, (safe to say NEITHER will happen) I'd jump on the accumulator/grapple bandwagon. And buy a BUNCH of wagons.

    I've rented a NH Stackliner a couple times to do large quantities of straw. Nice machine. A real labor saver. I can't say much negative about 'em, other than they just didn't match up well with my buildings.

    I've watched a neighbor who has a Steffans (sp?) accumulator, a grapple on a high reach loader, and approx 15 wagons. I've seen this man single handedly bring in more bales in one day than I've baled in an entire season....without TOUCHING the first one. Then as he has the time, he uses the grapple to unload and stack bales in the barn OR on customers trailers.

    OR, round bales look mighty attractive!
    There are three kinds of men;
    1.) The ones that learn by reading
    2.) The few who learn by observation
    3.) The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

  6. #6
    Super Member Robert_in_NY's Avatar
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    Default Re: I need to automate my bale handling

    If I do go with a NH stack wagon I will buy a set of grabs to handle each tier. I would be buying a newer model Stack wagon that does the tie tiers automatically.

    I currently have a serious system for inspecting my equipment. They get greased before each use and once again at the end of the season (after a good cleaning and inspection), the tires are checked on a regular basis as well. Which ever system I go with it will be well cared for.

    As for a rebaler to turn rounds into small squares, it is an idea but right now I am not able to invest too much money into haying. Buying a decent round baler as well as a system to unroll and feed a square baler will cost me more then I want and I would still have to handle every bale as it comes out of the baler manually which is something I can't do anymore.


    A large square baler is something I have always considered but in my area I have a very limited market and the cost to buy one is considerable. I would be hard to make it pencil out with my area and current situation. The easiest way is to go with a NH stack wagon or an accumulator system. I plan on building a new barn anyway to store my equipment inside. I will need to do the math but a 40' truss should allow me drop three stacks wide inside and I would have a leanto on both sides to park as much of my equipment under roof as possible.

    I do like the idea of going with heavier bales also, It will allow me to deliver more hay per load thus saving me trips.


    God must love stupid people; He made so many

  7. #7
    Super Member Robert_in_NY's Avatar
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    Default Re: I need to automate my bale handling

    Quote Originally Posted by Niji
    I noticed some time ago a really decent overview of small bale handling equipment down below here a dozen posts or so on this forum. The accumulators and those 18 bale hydraulic grabbers that go on the front end loader look pretty awesome to me. As we all know, the labor of the square baling is the main aspect that hurts a fella, not just physically, but generally--labor is costly, and can be especially costly when guys don't show up when they're supposed to and rain's coming. I hate that.

    I suppose you have seen that post started by "ddivinia", but if you haven't you should have a look.
    Yes, I have been following the post on here. This isn't my first time thinking about this and I have researched this quite a bit in the past but when I was healthy I just couldn't see spending the money at the time. Now I am at the point where I need to do something or quit haying.

    What ever system I go with it will be something newer and reliable as I can't afford breakdowns.


    God must love stupid people; He made so many

  8. #8
    Elite Member
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    Default Re: I need to automate my bale handling

    The guy who cuts and bales my prairie hay uses an automated stacker that is pulled behind his small square baler. He travels all over the county. The baler dumps the bales directly into the stacker. Stacker handles about 15 bales at a time and then he stops and unloads the stacks on the ground. The piles are scattered around the field. Next, he comes in with his semi and trailer and parks it in the field. The driver unloads a JD 4700 CUT off the trailer. Using a special kind of fork lift on the FEL, he picks up the stacks and puts them on the trailer. As the stack gets higher he drives the tractor up the back of the semi trailer and stacks them higher. When he gets a load, he leaves enough room on the back to reload the CUT and leaves to unload them. It seems like one man loads and unloads. This guy does a lot of hay and probably has the system that works for him. If you don't have to haul the hay far, there are probably better systems for stacking larger amount of hay at a time.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member chh's Avatar
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    Default Re: I need to automate my bale handling

    It may be the system radman is talking about but there is a bander to tow behind a square baler to accumulate and band together a group of square bales into something similar to a large square bale. That makes the stacking all mechenized and the customer only has to cut of the bands to have traditional square bales to work with. If the system is anywhere near as slick as the ads I have seen for it, it would make small squares as easy to move as large round or square bales, actually probably easier than large round bales as far as trucking goes.
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  10. #10
    Super Member Robert_in_NY's Avatar
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    Default Re: I need to automate my bale handling

    Quote Originally Posted by chh
    It may be the system radman is talking about but there is a bander to tow behind a square baler to accumulate and band together a group of square bales into something similar to a large square bale. That makes the stacking all mechenized and the customer only has to cut of the bands to have traditional square bales to work with. If the system is anywhere near as slick as the ads I have seen for it, it would make small squares as easy to move as large round or square bales, actually probably easier than large round bales as far as trucking goes.
    Your thinking of the bale bandit and from what I have read and heard from others it is very expensive (if memory is right around $50k) and it isn't very reliable and has poor customer service as there are no local dealers. Basically, you give them a bunch of money, they send you the machine with a card that says "Good Luck"

    When I first heard about it and researched it I thought it was a great idea. I still think it is a great idea but the cost of it makes it unreasonable. If it was more reliable with better support I could see the cost being justified a bit more but right now it is a big gamble.


    God must love stupid people; He made so many

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