"It works like a charm!" That's what Willie Foster, who operates a custom bale wrapping business near Bloomington, WI, says about the big-bale slicer he designed and built.

The machine slices silage bales lengthwise into three sections so they can be used in total-mixed ration (TMR) mixers. It handles 3 x 3' bales that vary in length from 4' to 8'. The sections can be picked up with a loader bucket and dropped into a mixer.

"The slicer could be a lower-cost alternative to tub grinders or expensive TMR mixers designed to preprocess big bales," says Foster, who plans to sell slicers for about $7,000 each.

"People want an easier way to handle big bales," he says. "Plus, if bales are processed, more hay can be put in the mixer. Several customers have told me that they could sell more big bales if dairy producers could process them."

The machine works best on bales with more than 35% moisture, but it can also cut dry bales.

He first takes the plastic off a bale, then sets the bale on the machine. A plunger pushes it through two stationary chopper knives, cutting the bale into three sections. It's powered by the hydraulic motor from Foster's bale wrapper, but could also be run by tractor hydraulics. It takes Foster about a minute to slice one bale.

For more information, call him at 608-994-2765.