Benefits of Bale Processors

Published on Wed, 08/12/2020 - 4:41pm

Benefits of Bale Processors.

 By Heather Smith Thomas.

 There are many options available today for processing hay or straw, and most beef producers and dairymen can find something that fits their own operation.  Here are some of those options:

Teagle Machinery
Andy Robson, North America Sales Manager for Teagle Machinery, Ltd says Teagle is a third-generation family business, based in England.  “We’ve been involved in the agricultural equipment business for nearly 80 years.  Our focus and specialization for the past 35 years has been bale processing equipment—for processing cornstalks, silage, hay, straw, distributing windrows, bunk feeding, creating consistent-sized material for TMR rations, blowing bedding into barns, calf hutches or preprocessed material into commodity buildings,” he says.

Specialized processors can place material into tight spaces in small pens or covered buildings with sharp corners, accurately distributing material up to 80 feet, and assist land reclamations projects by providing a consistent layer of straw cover to help reduce erosion.

For livestock bedding, bale processors can quickly and accurately discharge specific amounts of material from either round or square bales in close or distant areas with precision volume control.  This reduces waste, labor, and time, and can be safely accomplished from the tractor.

“Operator features can include Bluetooth Electric Controls for swivel discharge chutes, material lengths, bed speeds, automated lubrication systems, rear tailgates or loading arms which allow operator efficiency, while maneuvering direction of the product flow from the comfort of an air-conditioned cab,” says Robson.

 New bale processors have been introduced that can reduce chopped lengths to 2 inches, if desired, which makes coarser feeds more palatable and digestible.  For bedding, you can change to longer processed lengths with the push of a button.  This flexibility gives producers the ability to process and mix their own feed rations.  

Straw or mature hay can be added to the feed to provide the necessary roughage to create a balanced diet, if it’s chopped fine enough for the animals to eat, without them sorting it out or wasting feed.  University of Wisconsin Forage Agronomist, Dr. Dan Undersander, says 2-inch hay length is the optimal size for digestibility and efficiency in the rumen, making this processor an option for creating all or part of TMR feeds or delivering mixed rations directly into bunks.

“Our bale processors can be towed behind a tractor, or used on a 3-point hitch.  With the oscillating spout, the discharge can be directed up to 280 degrees, left and right of the tractor cab.  Recent developments include mounting to a Telehandler or Payloader to allow pinpoint delivery in tight barns and dairy pens,” Robson says.  

“When feeding hay, they can turn marginal-quality forage into a more palatable feed by helping eliminate dust, mold and mildew that accumulates in a standing bale.  Blending hay, straw and silage simultaneously creates a balanced diet in a quick and easy manner,” says Robson.

Teagle bale processors have been making farmer’s tasks easier, around the world.  “We ship to more than 50 countries, and meet the different needs of those farmers,” he says.  There are differences in crops and in what farmers expect from a bale processor.  In North America, for instance, some people need a processor that can handle baled cornstalks, for bedding, whereas you would not see this in England.  Growing conditions and crops are different.

“In the central part of North America most round bales are 6 feet in diameter and 5 feet wide, and most of the rest of the world uses 4-foot bales.  Our machines are tailored to provide what people are looking for,” says Robson.  It has to fit their own operations.

Examples of some of the Teagle bale processor options: The Telehawk can handle round bales or square bales, and evenly spreads straw up to 45 feet.  It is front-mounted on a tractor for optimum visibility of the bedding operation, and can also be used as a self-loading operation, no tractor required.  The rotating 280˚ swivel chute can deliver straw to either side or in front of the machine.  The Telehawk 7100 model can do round or square bales, baled and clamp silage, or spread straw up to 65 feet.  The 8100 model can spread straw up to 82 feet.  Options available for most models include swivel chutes or side chutes, chute extensions, road lighting kits and tailgate extension.  A pivoting lift arm can offset loading to account for bale stacking arrangement.  Standard features include adjustable tine for loading all sizes of round bales, and hydraulic check valve on pivoting lifting arm ram.  Retractable blades can be repositioned at the touch of a button, changing straw output from short chop to no chop, and back again when desired in a matter of seconds.

Highline Manufacturing
Gina Dosch, Sales & Marketing Support, Highline® Manufacturing in Saskatchewan, says Highline® makes 5 different CFR bale processors, including the CFR 1251 which has the ability to blend two different types of forages.  “It can blend two bales at once into a healthy ration.”
“The CFR 650 (our standard processor through many years) has a dual feed-roller processing system, with centrally-driven flail drum processor.  You can use tractor hydraulics to roll the bale one way or the other, and the processed material comes out through the discharge side on the right.  You can also equip it with a Feed Chopper™ which gives the material a secondary cut.  The Feed Chopper™ has 128 blades that run at about 3000 rpm, giving a smooth secondary cut,” she explains.

The CFR 651 is similar, but has a slat-and-chain processing chamber with an offset flail drum.  The main difference between the 650 and the 651 is operating style.  “The 650 has minimal moving parts requiring less maintenance and a wider discharge area.  The 651 requires minimal bale manipulation while creating feed rows and has easy access for twine removal.”
Another model created by Highline® is the CFR 960 which can process round or square bales.  This is a flexible machine for people who maybe one year can’t get round bales and have the opportunity to get square bales to bed or feed.  “It can load the bales  regardless of how they are placed (orientation).  We can back up to the bale with a fork system that turns the bale lengthwise so it can go into the top—positioning it for easier processing,” says Gina.

The last product in the CFR series is the TOP GUN®, which can be used for feeding or bedding applications, as well as coverage for construction.  “This is our only machine that can’t utilize a Feed Chopper™,” says Gina.  “It has a large fan and auger system that comes with a couple different options for the discharge spout.  You don’t have to open a gate and go into the pen with the animals.”  This machine can reach and blow over a fence to blow straw into pens or feed into bunks.

Claude Rouault, Director of International Sales, says Highline’s products are designed to meet the wide range of customers’ needs.  “We have a broad product line to accommodate their requirements, with something that works for their own operation.  Our intent is to find a fit for the customer’s operation and make it more efficient.  We have a rumen nutritionist on staff and do a lot of our own testing, in terms of what the animal needs, versus just making a piece of equipment.  Our focus is on the customer, and the animal’s requirements,” he says.

The Feed Chopper™ chops forage into shorter lengths, making it more palatable and more easily digested.  Some types of feeds are too coarse for young animals, for instance.  “The Feed Chopper™ can be added onto all our units except the TOP GUN®.  We have kits a person can buy, to add this to your existing processor if you think it might be a good fit for your operation.  This can create a more efficient way of feeding, and can work well if you are unable to justify a tub grinder or TMR.  It is economical, and really improves feed efficiency,” he says.

The Feed Chopper™ can be engaged and disengage on demand.  Thus it doesn’t impede ability to spread bedding (which you don’t want chopped that much).  You can create a finely-chopped windrow of feed, and then with a quick adjustment go back to blowing bedding or coverage.

“We also have a metered grain tank (MGI™) that can be added, if you want to supplement the feed during certain times of the year with the animals’ differing nutrient needs—to increase nutrition level.  You can incorporate a supplement into the forage before it is processed.” says Claude.  “This creates a very homogenized blend, and the animals are unable to sort through it.  It doesn’t just put the supplement on top; it is fully mixed into the windrow itself.  By putting the supplement in before it goes through the Feed Chopper™, we’ve seen 40 to 60% scarification or cracking of the grain/corn, which also makes it easier to digest, increasing feed efficiency,” he says.

“Our units are very adaptable, because we want to fit what the customer wants to do, versus just giving them one choice.  We are committed to providing a full range of options, even to providing a self-propelled, self-loading AccuMix™ TMR machine--the first one to be designed and built in North America.”

Bale Storm
Another innovative type of processor was designed and created by Iowa farmers Bruce and Connie Goddard.  “This processor is the result of years of frustration on our farm, trying to spread cornstalk bales for bedding,” says Connie.  “We calve early, and my husband and I are often in below zero weather trying to bed our cattle.  For many years we did it with a knife (to cut twines or net wrap off bales) and a pitchfork to spread it around manually.  One night when it was bitterly cold, my hands were so frozen my fingers wouldn’t work—as I was trying to cut frozen net wrap off the bale.  We came to the house and Bruce said we had to find a better way.  He had an idea for a bale processor and started drawing up plans for making one.  It was the result of our pain and our need for something better,” she explains.

“When we did our customer discovery through Iowa State University, we called about 100 different livestock producers.  The one thing most of them said was that spreading bedding manually was the way they’d always done it.  I told them we could relate to that because that’s the way we always did it, too.  We’d simply gotten to the point where something had to change.  This is how the Bale Storm Bale Processor was born,” says Connie.

“It’s different from other bale processors and we love it.  Bruce was familiar with those; most of them are a pull-behind machine, with a pivot point.  The major difference is that ours is an attachment for a tractor.  That’s a huge advantage because a lot of small and mid-size farmers need a piece of equipment that can easily maneuver in and out of small spaces.  My son worked for a large cattle operation and had to use a pull-behind processor that was very frustrating because it was nearly impossible to back it up or get the bedding exactly where he wanted it.  It was not very maneuverable,” she says.

“Ours is a 3-point rear attachment, so wherever the tractor goes, it goes.  The original one Bruce designed was for a skid steer but heavy round bales could tip the skid steer.  Unless you had a really big machine, the bales were too heavy,” Connie explains.

With the skid steer attachment, you can’t see where you are bedding because the big bale is in front, but with the bale on the back of the tractor you can see where you’ve been, and bed smaller pens because it is so maneuverable.  

The Goddards have a licensed agreement with Kelly Ryan Equipment Company to manufacture the Bale Storm Bale Processor.  Bruce built the first models, with testing and adjustments made on the farm.  He applied for a patent in 2017.  Bruce and Connie completed the Launch and Grow Your Business at the John Pappajohn Entrepreneur Center in Mason City, Iowa and the Iowa State University Startup Factory in Ames.

Farmers generally just deal with the problems they face and resign themselves to “that’s the way it is” and “that’s how we have always done it.”  The Goddards feel their Bale Storm Bale Processor solved a difficult problem for them and hope it can do the same for other livestock producers. The Bale Storm Bale Processor, saves time, money and is safe to operate--all very important to any livestock producer.