Large-scale hay producers can get round bales off fields and stored or shipped quickly and simply using the Bale Smart System, according to Haukaas Manufacturing, a Canadian company.
The system is made up of a bale cart accumulator that can carry up to ten 5’ round bales, a rotating grapple and a rack kit for trailers.
“It’s a paradigm shift” from the way producers typically gather and load hay, says Greg Haukaas, who founded the Mortlach, Saskatchewan-based company with his father, David. The company also manufactures products including leveling shovels, field markers and trailer conveyors.
The hay-moving system was introduced in 2002, but only entered the U.S. market in 2013.
A grower can drive the bale cart through fields to scoop up large round bales. One bale chamber lowers on each side to gently pick up bales, then the chamber rises until the next bale is gathered, Haukaas says.
The cart picks up and sets down bales on their flat spots, which limits spoilage and keeps them from rolling when stacked on a trailer.
It was designed to set down two rows of bales far enough apart – 11’4” – so a semitrailer can drive between the rows, which makes for easy loading. Haukaas’ tractor-mounted Bale Grapple can handle two bales at a time and rotates to set bales down on end when unloading.
The company’s trailer rack kits convert standard 8’6”-wide trailers so they can safely and securely haul large round bales.
Using the system efficiently takes a bit of strategy, Haukaas says. He suggests grouping bales in fields in groups of 30, with two parallel rows of 10 and two parallel rows of five set at a 90° angle to the longer rows. This “L” shape formation allows a driver to use the grapple to quickly load each side of the trailer, and then stack a top row.
“You can load 30 bales in less than 10 minutes,” Haukaas says.
He and his father brainstormed the system approach after watching hay being moved at government hayfields just miles from their home. They noticed how much time was being wasted in grouping, loading and hauling hay bales, and decided to put their manufacturing experience to use.
The men wanted to create something simple, without too many moving parts. The cart is simply steel and four hydraulic cylinders, and it’s pulled behind a 120-hp tractor with two hydraulic outlets. The cart’s sturdiness – it’s made of more than 9,500 lbs of steel – means it should last for at least 200,000 bales, he says.
“There’s really nothing to wear out on it. It’s virtually maintenance-free.”