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  1. #1
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    Default Mini Hay Balers

    I have six small hay fields on my farm. Total hay acres is 21. Until now I've had the hay custom cut, but am going to change my operation to include rotational grazing and some pasture fed beef finishing.

    Previously the haybine and baler were NH and were pulled with a big MF. Sometimes, turning in the fields was a problem because of the field's layout. I plan to put in several temporary cross fences in these fields and thereby create grazing padocks that will allow stockpiling and strip grazing control.

    In the spring and at other times of the year I plan to cut and clip the hay in the padocks and store it for winter use as needed, but expect that my stockpiled hay will carry me most of the winter. I expect the mowing, raking, and baling turning problems to be annoying if I use the larger equipment.

    I've been looking at the Star MRB0850 mini round baler (Japanese) sold by Agriquip. Its a twine tie unit. The Agriquip website is www.agriquip.com and they're located down in Georgia. I don't know if there are other Star dealers around the country. The MRB0850 baler is rated for 18-30 HP compact tractors.

    I have a small 27 HP 3 cylinder compact tractor that I think would work well with this baler. The bales are small enough and can be handled just like larger size bales with a spear, etc. I think the unit is small enough that the turning problems would be eliminated. Also, the bales are probably light enough that loading, storing and handling would be fairly easy. Also, I'd like to think the bales would work well for horse owners who might want something akin to a "lady" bale if I were to sell the bales or do some custom baling.

    Does anyone have any experience with mini hay balers? Has anyone seen the Star machines in operation? Being Japanese machines, I'm guessing they are fairly well made, but after-sale service and support is always an issue. Does anyone know of other mini balers sized to work behind a compact tractor?

    Agriquip is suppose to have the Star balers on display at the NFMS in Louisville next week. If anyone happens to look them over, I'd appreciate opinions on the units.

    Thanks,
    Ed

  2. #2
    Veteran Member
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    HayDR's Avatar
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    JD 2040,2240, 2355, 2755, 4055

    Default Re: Mini Hay Balers

    Ed,
    Many farmers have the same problem as you do. Currently the cost of the small Star balers is expensive. You have the same surface are spoilage on large bales as you do on small round bales left outside. This means that you will have a significant amount of hay spoilage with the small 400-500 Lb bales. You will have to store these bales inside to minimize the weather spoilage. Currently various MFG's make 4x4 & 4x5 balers that can be operated with a 35-40 HP utility size tractor. These 4x4 & 4x5 balers range from $9,000-14,000. For the small 400 lb round baler to be cost effective my customers tell me it needs to be in the $5000-7000 range. Check your prices on the Star balers and see they are expensive. There are some MFG's working on smaller 500 Lbs. balers but their production will not show up until late 2005.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Mini Hay Balers

    Mark,

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, I noticed that new Star balers seem somewhat overpriced. However, I also noticed they have a slightly used demo unit available on their website for about $13,000.

    I will be able to store the bales under cover, so spoilage won't be a problem. Yes, I expect Vermeer, JD and NH will eventually get their act together and offer less expensive units for small operators. I suspect they are starting to recognize that they are losing business to foreign manufacturers. Perhaps they are also starting to recognize that small operators, who don't live at the farm subsidy trough, represent an increasing and significant market share.

    I can certainly use the bigger tractor and larger baler to do my work, but the lady who keeps the books encourages me to be conservative. Otherwise I don't get any lunch. Lower costs and easier field operations are important.

    Ed

  4. #4
    Veteran Member jimg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mini Hay Balers

    Jinma makes one but I can't figure out if anyone imports it or the cost. Minibalers seem to be real big in the UK and I *think* europe as a whole. I suppose the reason they aren't popular here is b/c most operations that bale hay use the bigger equipment.

  5. #5
    Veteran Member
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    Default Re: Mini Hay Balers

    The Mini Hay balers are used primarily in haylage production, wet hay. Many of the wrapper MFG's make a wrapper for the mini round and square bales.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Location
    wisconsin
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    New Holland TC29 and 1951 Allis Chalmer WD with narrow front end

    Default Re: Mini Hay Balers

    I was checking out the small japanese balers too but they are just too pricey. I only need to make enough hay for 5 horses to get me through the winter. I ended up buying an old New Holland 68 Hayliner for $325.00 and it's in good condition. NH rates this baler at 15 pto hp, they had an optional wisconsin air cooled moter that ran it which was 15 hp. They manual shows a CA Allis baling hay. There are alot of these older balers around and they are cheap especially if they don't have a thrower on them. I will probably bale less than 1000 bales this summer so it will work just fine for me.

  7. #7
    Super Member 5030's Avatar
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    Michigan, S.E. Monroe County
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    Kubota M9000 Hyd Kubota M105 shuttle

    Default Re: Mini Hay Balers

    horse guy:

    Wait until the knotter takes a dump and you have forage down and it looks like rain any time now.

    Have fun.

  8. #8
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    Badlands of Alberta

    Default Re: Mini Hay Balers

    With only 21 acres and 6 fields why install permanent fencing?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Mini Hay Balers

    jimg,

    Yes, mini balers are used extensively in the UK. Probably used for the same reason I'm thinking about using one; smaller fields and lower operating costs. I think one brand is Rekorder(?) but I've never seen anything about US dealers or importers. Also, I think the Italians use mini balers.

    Woodbeef,

    As I mentioned in my post, I'm putting in a rotational grazing system on these six fields as a pasture finished grass fed beef operation. This will be something of an experiment for me and reportedly is a very cost effective way to finish beef vis-a-vis corn fed finishing. If successful, then in 3-4 years I'll scale up to much larger fields.

    With the increased demand for leaner meat, the BSE thing, and more small plant meat processing in this area, it looks like a risk worth taking here. I've already received orders for cattle and they won't even be finished for another 18-24 months. A few other beef producers around here have been successful using controlled rotational grazing. One guy said he could always sell more cattle than he had and the prices were always high. Most cattle raised this way don't see the inside of a sale barn. They are typically sold privately or contracted to brokers for upscale restaurants or grocery stores.

    There is a fellow who lives about 100 miles from me who rotational grazes holstein heifers for a dairy in Florida. The heifers are brought up to Virginia in tractor-trailer loads, kept here for 7-8 months and trucked back down to Florida. He averages 120 heifers on about 100 acres of paddocks. He does feed them silage and forage during the winter months in a barn because he is located at a higher elevation and receives quite a bit of snow.

    I'm originally from Nebraska and we raised thousands of corn fed cattle in our farm feedlot, but the stock spent most of the winter under crowded conditions eating corn and alfalfa. Very expensive finishing process. Rotational grazing and finishing on grass is significantly less expensive than feedlot finishing. The folks in Australia have been doing it forever. The Japanese and European markets always exhibit strong demand for Australian beef.

    The move to lower fat diets in the US is increasingly popular as the baby boomers get older and fatter and the kids waddle out of McDonalds. And, for the first time in decades, the demand for beef in the US has been higher than supply. That probably won't continue too long, because fewer heifers are being taken to market which suggests that higher beef prices are encouraging smaller farms to jump back into the cattle business. The return of imported beef from Canada and South America will also push prices back down.

    Rotational grazing and strip controls probably won't work where the weather is too harsh, but here in Central Virginia our winters are fairly mild. With proper grasses, legumes and pasture management, cattle can be grazed all year round here except for a few days when there is snow cover more than a few inches deep. Even then, the snow doesn't remain on the ground very long in our valley.

    Fences are the key to rotational grazing paddock control. This system is sometimes referred to as cell grazing. In the spring of the year, and at times when the forage gets too tall, the hay is harvested for winter use. Fescue with the endophyte fungus generates heat in cattle, which is ok in colder months. In the latter part of the summer, fescue is stockpiled. This means the hay isn't cut and is allowed to grow until earlier winter, at which time the cattle are turned onto the cells in a controlled manner. My rule-of-thumb planning is one steer per acre. That number may vary depending somewhat on the weather.

    The permanent fences keep the cattle out of the road, out of the creeks, and out of the neighbors fields. More importantly, the cross fences keep the cattle out of other cells that are recovering from prior grazing. The front fences are board fencing along the road and the back fences are wire. The cross fences are T-post with double strand hot wire. The cross fences are only semi-permanent. If I want to control grazing even tighter, I'll use temporary hot wires. Each paddock shares half of a 300 gallon stock watering tank.

    In my case I intend to rotate the cattle among several cells for the spring and early summer months. Those cells have fescue, orchardgrass, alfalfa, and clover. In the hot summer I'll move them to other paddocks containing hot weather grasses like caucasian bluestem and perl. Obviously, it takes a lot longer to bring Angus steers to 1150-1200 lbs with this approach than with traditional corn-fed feedlot finishing.

    Fresh water, mineral, and salt, are always available free choice. Fly control is also important, so paddocks receive a round with the pasture drag when the cattle are moved. Also, the mineral and salt blocks are moved and the fly rub is on skids and moved also. Daily gain is projected to average 1.2-1.5 lbs/day. Some protein supplements when needed, but never any growth hormones, anibiotics, ruminants, etc. Required vaccinations, castration, worm control, and precise record keeping are important. Last year I completed the USDA Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, not so much because I needed to know a whole lot more about raising cattle, but because a BQA certification results in a higher sale price at market time.

    For those people raising stockers around here, it is almost becoming a requirement of feedlot buyers that cattle purchased in Virginia destined for Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Pennsylvania feedlots be raised by a BQA licensed producer.

    I'll be putting calves on the cells at 400-450 lbs and selling them at 1150-1200 lbs. The hay cut in the spring will be high quality. I'm not trying to achieve organic beef certification and use inorganic fertilizer and lime. But, premium beef raised in a natural environment sells very well. Its probably a perception thing as much as anything else, but more and more, consumers are buying meat, dairy and vegetables in local markets. They like to know where their food is coming from.

    People buying private beef sometimes drive past the fields where the cattle are being raised to look at the livestock. I guess it gives them a sense of connection with the earth or something. I know families periodically stop along the road and look over the cow-calf operations in the area. The kids enjoys watching the antics of the calves.

    I'll clip the fescue throughout the year to lower the endophyte problem and the other grasses and legumes growing with the fescue should minimize the heat problem associated with the endophyte fungus. Clipping fescue before the seed heads are formed significantly reduces the endophyte problem.

    Cattle like to top-graze their forage instead of having to hunt for it. Forage in a rotational grazing setup allows them to top graze. Given their choice, cattle like to eat the good stuff and trample the rest. I intend to move them to another cell about every seven days, and allow each cell to recover for about 21-30 days. Except for the spring flush, the forage is seldom allowed to grow higher than 8-9 inches and not grazed lower than 3 inches.

    I don't know if this approach would work for bison or not? Did you know that when the settlers first came to Virginia that bison roamed this area?

    Ed

  10. #10
    Super Star Member Egon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mini Hay Balers

    VirginiaEd:

    Nice informative post.

    From what little I know the paddock rotation feeding is very efficient. That is most likely the way Bison grazed as the herds were always moving. This was also the way shepherds of past herded and grazed their sheep.

    Another benefit may be reduced grain cropping costs.

    From the sounds of things it may be a long time before You see large quantities of Canadian beef.

    Best to you in your operation.

    Egon


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