Round alfalfa bales with precut stems break apart faster than conventional bales in vertical mixers and require less fuel, say researchers at Kansas State University.

They compared ration mixing time of conventional round bales and bales made by a baler that cut the alfalfa stems into 3-8” sections ahead of the baling chamber. Two bale sizes were tested: 5 x 4’ and 6 x 4’. Each bale was raised to 16’ by a tractor loader and dropped into a vertical double-screw mixer that had the power engaged. The pto speed was set at 540 rpm during the mixing process.

Bale mixing time was shorter for precut bales than for conventional bales regardless of bale size, and larger bales used more fuel on both a gallons-per-hour and gallons-per-bale basis than smaller ones, the researchers report.

Precutting also improved ration mixing time in a second experiment with bales of cornstalks.

“Using the precut baling method reduced the time required for bale disassembly by approximately half, and reduced fuel useage per bale during mixing, which may lead to increased on-farm time efficiency and could decrease the cost of a total mixed ration,” the researchers wrote.