Monday, June 9, 2014

Making Hay: Round Bales versus Square Bales




We are getting our first cut of hay today!

I can't tell you how happy I am that we are working with someone who has hay making experience AND is responsible! He also doesn't mind that we ask a lot of questions!

We decided to have the first cut taken off in Round Bales. I am not sure how it will work out but we decided to give it a try for one reason-

Less Labor-
Putting up square bales is more labor intensive. With the round bales, you use the tractor to move the hay. When you have allergies, like most of my crew,  handling the square bales can make one miserable.

It is also less work at feeding time. This past winter, feeding time was very difficult. Hauling individual bales of hay, twice a day, out to the sheep took its toll. One of these round bales are equivalent to 10-12 square bales.  If you only have a few animals, it may not be the best option, but we have enough animals to justify using round bales.



There are some  disadvantages to using Round Bales 

Square bales sell better- we sell hay to homesteaders who only have a few animals. For this reason we will be putting up the second cut in square bales.

You need equipment to move the hay-
We are doing shares, so we do not have anything to do with the mowing, raking, and baling of the hay, just the moving and feeding of it. You need something to move the large bales which we are not set up for. Mike would like a skid loader, but that just isn't in the budget right now.  He decided to  purchase a hay spear which attaches to the tractor, so he can move the bales.

More Waste-I have been told there is more waste with the round bales.
Our sheep do a pretty good job of cleaning up the hay they are fed, but we will need to buy a feeder to put the round bales in. I am not sure what type we will buy, but hopefully they sell one that is goat proof! When we fed round bales in the past, we did not have a feeder, and the goats LOVED making a mess of the bales.
I am interested in finding out how much more room the round bales will take up in the barn.
If the hay can be stored inside, out of the elements, you will have less waste. I am not sure if we will have room for all of them. If not,  the bales are wrapped in a netting that is suppose to shed some of the rain.

We figured our share would be 19-20 round bales from first cut, imagine our surprise when we were told, it was 37! The hay field produced twice as much hay as last year! I never thought I would be excited about HAY!'


Well, that is what happens when you start this thing called homesteading... who knew?

If you feed round bales, and have a recommendation on a feeder, I would love to hear from you!







 photo number2sig_zps2f1f6501.png

19 comments:

  1. Sandra, check the feeders at http://www.premier1supplies.com/sheep/species.php . Or just google Premier sheep equip. They have a nice feeder for round bales. I know someone here who uses them and is very happy. Wish I had one! You can get a 3-point hitch round bale handler for the tractor if the tractor is big enough. I have a friend move mine around. Usually I cut the strings/net, give the bale a shove (or two) with the 4-wheeler, fork the hay that unrolls into my trailer and deliver it to the sheep. So, it is easier if you have the equipment to unroll it with. Mine are stored outside, just as they are in your photos. Leave a bit of space between bales so they don't hold moister. A lot of people here stack them in 2 or 3 layers if they expect to feed it all in one season. I like one level the best. They are a lot less work, usually, than squares. However, I miss making and feeding the squares.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the advice and recommendation!!

      Delete
  2. We use round bales almost exclusively now that we found a dependable supply. We find that the cows do an excellent job of cleaning up with less waste and what they do waste becomes a "bedding pack" to keep them out of the winter mud and then turns into beautiful compost. It's not ideal, but nothing is. It definitely works better for us to feed a bale every 4-6 days or so than to have to throw out square bales every day. We've tried different kinds of feeders, and they all have weaknesses, but the Premier collapsible round bale feeder design is pretty good. We stack our bales near the field on pallets and cover with tarps right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, hopefully our cows will help keep things cleaned up :)

      Delete
  3. I don't have enough animals to use any round bales but I would bet you could build a feeder with some stock panels and t-posts. The panels bend nicely in a circle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kelly, we are looking at some options for a "homemade" feeder.

      Delete
  4. I fed round bales one winter and we stood them up on end and unrolled them a bit at a time and tossed that layer to the horses... Doesn't stop you from handling the hay, but you can pass that on to someone else maybe interested in buying some rolls. There are several styles of feeders and that's the key. Find the one that will work best in your situation and then the waste isn't as much as you'd think.

    ReplyDelete
  5. For several winters we have used round bales for the horses and ponies. We just have the farmer put the bale in back of our truck and we take it right out to the pasture and drop it under a tree. The horses don't overeat and in 3 to 4 days it is all gone. They clean almost everything up. I like using the round bales. MB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
      Glad to hear of your positive experience with the round bales :)

      Delete
  6. We do round bales for our farm and my hubby cuts and bales for others too. We don't have a square baler but like you mentioned, they are more convenient to move. However, round bales do better if you don't have a large barn because water won't rot the whole bale as there is more padding on them... We use a forklift like attachment on our tractor to move the bales and it is nice to not to have to constantly feed the animals since the round will last a while. They do sell these metal baskets that look like wired toilet paper rolls that go over the bale to prevent food loss but we haven't invested in them yet, though we want to... Well, that is my two-cents on round bales of hay! P.S. I didn't realize you had a blog Sandra! Glad to make a visit over :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by :) I appreciate your input!! I love hearing what others are doing!

      Delete
    2. I have fed both Large Round bales [900 to 1200 pounds] and small square when I had my purebred cattle. I had a love/hate relationship with them. I also had a tractor with a Front end loader to handle the. They are easier to feed once you get the right feeders for them but there is more waste and you have less control over who is getting to the feeder first. You have to make sure you have a lot more spaces at the feeder than animals that need to get their head in to eat. A bossy animal can hog half of a feeder!

      I stacked mine two on the ground and one in the 'V'. Then I bought good hay tarps and covered them as soon as i got them stacked to avoid any moisture under the tarp. I fed round bales that had been wrapped with twine and bales that had been wrapped with netting. The netting can be hazardous in country that has hard freezes and thaws. It gets frozen in with hay and can tear off in small pieces. If you miss these pieces calves will eat them and that can be fatal. I learned the hard way on that and became fanatical about net.

      I hope this information is helpful. Your hay looks wonderful and it always smells so good!

      Delete
    3. Fiona, Thanks so much for sharing your experience with your round bales! Especially the warning about the netting. I did worry about the freezing in the winter.

      Delete
  7. For my goats I use a 16' cattle panel cinched tight around the bale and wired together. As they eat it down, you'll need to tighten the panel every couple of days or so. I've found that any other kind of feeder is not goat-proof! I prefer square bales for the goats, but round bales for the horses. There is still waste, but the top layer of the round bale goes on my garden, so it isn't a total waste after all.

    ReplyDelete
  8. We don't have enough animals for round bales, and I worry about my goats wasting it, too. Ours are terrible about playing in it! The square bales are getting harder to come by, and it's no wonder with as much work as it is. Glad you guys had a bumper crop!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is true about goats. We have a few and they drive us nuts when it comes to climbing all over the hay.

      Delete
  9. Fabulous post! I'd never considered the differences in the two. I'd love for you to share this wonderful outdoor post on The Maple Hill Hop!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for stopping by the farm!

We appreciate your comments!

Related Post

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...