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Tractor Talk Discussion Forum

present day hay bale size, industry preference?

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michaelr

09-13-2017 10:11:28




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Small squares, or the genre of anything bigger? Brainstorming a plan for organic alfalfa and not sure what is standard or expected for supplying it to the dairy.
The older barns I have available accommodate small bale only. But no way I can pack them at 80+ pounds and throw them around. Too heavy and too many.
So, I could pack them lighter weight? Or just go the route of larger bales and use machines. But what larger bale type might the dairies be using? Round or the large cubes?
Suppose would depend on equipment on their end as well.

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rockyridgefarm

09-14-2017 07:28:57




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
Location is huge. I baled up two racks of small square bales of excellent quality 3rd crop alfalfa hay last summer and still have one rack left. I sold part of the other rack here and there and only got about 2.50 a bale.
Rounds are also a hard sell here. I had some decent first crop 6 by 5 rounds and offered them to guys for $20 per bale and never sold a one. I'm now feeding them to the renter's cattle because they aren't worth anything and the pastures are burning up in this late season drought.
The only thing that sort of sells is very good quality wrapped big square bales. Can't even rent the hay ground out. Neighbor told me he has 300 wrapped big squares and a silage bag more than he needs. He's not even gonna cut fourth crop.

Everyone is buried in hay in Southwest Wisconsin. Come next drought, maybe the hay will be worth something, but then a guy won't have any to sell!

Next year, I'm gonna run a hot wire around most of the hay strips and let the renter's cows have it. Good pasture is somewhat harder to come by around here. 60 cents per head per day.

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TomA

09-14-2017 07:09:02




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
Sure is a lot of differences around the country. Out here in CA the old standard is 3 string bales. They are not small and not square. They weigh about 100 lbs. These are what you find in feed stores and are sold to horse and cow people. There are big bales that look to be maybe 3'x4'x8'. I think most of these go to dairies. I myself use 2 wire which may be like your small squares. This is because I run old junk equipment, I think mine run 60-80 lbs. No rounds to be seen in CA although I have seen cotton baled with them.

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Hay hay hay

09-13-2017 17:36:13




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
Why are you asking us? Go ask the dairy farms you want to sell to. Marketing 101.



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blackhole49

09-14-2017 07:33:59




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to Hay hay hay, 09-13-2017 17:36:13  
X2



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showcrop

09-13-2017 15:30:31




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
One of the farms where I hung out as a kid in northern NH now milks around 1200. They are not organic, and their feed is mainly corn silage with grass silage mixed in. In order to get the protein up to optimum level however, they buy in large squares of alfalfa hay from Montana. Until our government gets a lot deeper into regulating agriculture, there will be as many different ways of handling feed as there are farms, and if the packaging changes they will adapt.

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Bruce from Can.

09-13-2017 15:28:14




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  

I do a lot of 4x4 round wet wrapped silage bales fory dairy cows. Some fellas even put the wet wrapped silage bales into TMR mixers that have a vertical screw. I grow to surplus always and keep the best for my cows, sell the rest to beef and Dairy goat farmers. Horse people will buy 4x4 round dry bales , cause they can roll them around by hand, or push them with a 4 wheeler

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ASG

09-13-2017 13:03:21




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
It is not too hard to raise organic alfalfa.

Neighbor across the road farms organically and slfalfa is critical to his organic rotation. Year one he plants oats/alfalfa, combines oats, cuts and bales straw, and one cutting alfalfa. Year 2 has 4 cuttings alfalfa and applies manure, year 3 is corn (benefits from alfalfa and manure), year 4 is soybeans or other crops.

All his alfalfa is sold to organic livestock producers. He makes 4x3 bales. It would be a lot of work in small squares, but would be manageable with a bale accumulator and grapple.

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Donald Lehman

09-13-2017 12:37:11




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
While small squares are still being used in this area, they are about as popular as a pig in Mecca. What isn't chopped is round baled or baled in large squares. The big negative with small rounds is that you cannot find the labor to handle small rounds at any price. The other big negative (small or large bales) is that the odds are always against you weather-wise, to put up anything with enough quality to make any milk.

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ztrmowers

09-13-2017 12:20:17




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
i think a plan b cause in my area they would not mess with any of what you talk about, its all silage or few large sguare



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part time pete

09-13-2017 12:00:38




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
Around here (Central NY), the most marketable hay is small squares. The conventional dairy farmers can handle the big squares and rounds, but they generally can't afford to buy their hay. The organic farmers seem to have more money, but I'm not sure how easy it would be to grow organic alfalfa - I would think grass hay would be a lot easier.
The most marketable stuff around here seems to be grass hay in small squares for the horse people. I make my bales 32" long and roughly 50lb. An 80lb bale would be too heavy for most customers to handle - plus, at 15% moisture I don't think my baler could make a bale that heavy Pete
Pete

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coshoo

09-13-2017 11:21:04




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
You might want to scout around the organic dairies in your area to see if you have a market for your hay. For them to buy, you'll have to be certified organic, too- its not enough that the hay actually is organic, it has to be certified or they cannot certify their milk as organic.



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BarnyardEngineering

09-13-2017 11:04:25




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
IMHO, the bale that would work with the widest audience would be the 3x3 large square.
A 3x3 large square can be handled by most loader tractors that have a 7' snow or dirt bucket on the front, even without a spike.

Most old barns have a large door where you can drive up and deposit multiple bales in the floor of the hay mow. Even if you can't drive the tractor inside you can stack bales 2 high and shove them in with the next bale.

Once the bale is broken it breaks apart into flakes that a human can handle. Each flake is like 1/2 a bale of hay. It can be shaken out like a regular bale, or rolled up and tossed into a small bale chopper.
Really anyone that handles small squares can deal with them with minimal adjustments. If they need to feed their cattle, they will figure it out.

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Alan K

09-13-2017 10:53:17




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
My cousins arent organic but on their dairy farm they do a lot of round bales but do have someone come in and do the big squares on some of their alfalfa. To me small squares of alfalfa between 50 and 60 pounds are decent bales. Anything much bigger, I agree, gets too hard to handle.



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JDIH

09-13-2017 10:51:38




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to michaelr, 09-13-2017 10:11:28  
The dairies around me use very little dry hay. Mostly use silage/haylage



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Mike M

09-13-2017 11:00:08




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 Re: present day hay bale size, industry preference? in reply to JDIH, 09-13-2017 10:51:38  
That's what I was thinking too here in Ohio.



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