Marius Hartwig has only done a small amount of custom maceration, but has had plenty of opportunities to do more.

“I've had quite a few phone calls from people asking me to do it, but because of the size of our operation, we're too busy,” says Hartwig, of Innisfail, Alberta.

Hartwig bought a Model 6600 macerator from Agland Co., Arborg, Manitoba, when the machines were introduced in 2002. Sold throughout the U.S. and Canada, they make hay dry faster by conditioning it more severely than conventional conditioning rolls.

Maceration requires a separate field pass, but Hartwig sees that as an advantage over severe conditioning equipment that mounts in a windrower or mower-conditioner.

“If the macerator goes down, it doesn't shut down my whole cutting operation,” he points out.

He normally macerates three to five hours after cutting, depending on the size of the crop. He says it cuts the waiting period from cutting to baling about in half.

“The fastest drying time I've seen with timothy was 21 hours,” says Hartwig.

He uses the machine on all his own hay, which now totals 1,200 acres of mostly timothy that's sold for export to Japan. He used to do a lot of custom harvesting, too, but has cut back as his own operation has grown.

“The idea behind my custom work was to generate income to expand my own farm,” he says.

He may someday move more heavily into custom harvesting again. If he does, maceration will be part of the package.

“Generally, if I do custom work, it's a complete operation,” he says. “I cut, macerate, rake, bale, stack and tarp.”