Mostly using odds and ends from a scrap pile, Mike Schweitzer has improved the haymaking equipment on Delmer and Terry Walter's Hudson, CO, farm.
“I don't have a big R&D budget,” jokes Schweitzer, the machinery manager at Walter Farms, Inc. “But I like tinkering around and making modifications to our equipment that help give us a slight edge. The improvements I've made don't make a huge difference, but several little changes put together can add up.”
Schweitzer has long been intrigued by holes made in the center of bales with ventilators, so he developed another way to ventilate 4 × 4 × 8' bales. Schweitzer welded pieces of angle iron into the bale chamber — one on each side and two on the bottom.
The V-shaped sections of iron run the full length of the chamber. As hay is moved through the chamber and compressed, the angle iron makes V-shaped indentations or grooves in each bale.
The Walters, who sell hay to nearby dairies, bale at around 15% moisture. While they don't bale at a higher moisture level just because the bales are grooved, they notice a difference after the bales are put in large stacks.
“The grooves help give the bales some breathing space,” says Schweitzer. “We used to stack the bales loosely, so we could get some air through the stacks, but now we can place them closer together with less risk of heating and spoilage.”
Adds Delmer Walter: “The grooves help save a few more bales.”
For preventive maintenance, Schweitzer mounted a pair of grease guns on each of the farm's two big balers to automatically deliver a shot of lubricant every time the accumulator dumps.
“Instead of greasing the baler with 50 shots of grease after every 100 bales, as the manufacturer recommends, it's automatically greased after every two bales,” says Schweitzer.
He also made a fairlead to feed the twine into the knotters. It guides the twine and keeps it straight, which reduces tying problems, he explains.
“Mike's a real blessing to our operation,” says Delmer. “If we can't find parts for something, he'll build them. If something needs to be remodeled or retrofitted, Mike can do it. He can fix anything.”