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Let’s Make Hay!


Not all bales of hay are created equal. As we learned from our forage and animal health experts during our Forage Forum virtual event on August 19, 2021, there are many factors that need to be considered before you can even think about breaking out the baler. 

Most importantly, is preparing your equipment ahead of harvest to avoid issues. “That’s the one variable that, if we’re right in the middle of harvesting and storing and we have an issue, stops the entire process. Equipment maintenance is critical to us [forage and hay producers]” said Dr. Mary Ellen Hicks, Professor of Animal Science at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, during the virtual event. Kubota recommends changing the gearbox oil on your baler every few years or 5,000 bales, whichever comes first. Please check your operating manual for guidance on your specific equipment and model number.

Let’s review some expert tips for making perfect bales:

#1 – Know Your Moisture and Density

First, keep moisture levels in mind. Before you start baling, tedding is best when leaves are protected by morning dew, above 50% moisture. Raking is best at 25-30% moisture, letting it continue to dry while you start up the baler. Baling is optimal at 18% moisture for 4x5 round bales.

Kubota balers have an advanced three zone electric density setting system which can be changed from crop to crop in a matter of seconds. It’s important to understand how bale density and conditions will affect crops and adjust your density settings accordingly.

#2 – Windrow Makes the Bale

Windrow size and shape play a bigger role in bale formation than you may think. A straight windrow allows the operator to maneuver the baler through the field with minimal effort while also allowing the crop to feed evenly into the pickup and then into the bale chamber. In fields where straight windrows are not possible, a good rake operator will make generous turns allowing the baler operator to avoid any sharp angled turns that could result in leaving hay on the ground.  Ideally, your rake will have a working width wide enough to build a consistent windrow that is the width of the bale chamber. This will minimize the need to weave back and forth to fill the bale chamber and will result in an even, consistent bale.

#3 – Let the Baler Guide You

Pay attention to the driving arrows, steering wheel icon, and bale shape icons. Our system provides operators three visual alerts to know what is transpiring in the bale chamber. This allows operators to make the adjustments to the shape of their bale as they drive along. The sensitivity of the driving arrows can be adjusted easily to meet the requirements of different operators or conditions.

#4 – Stay Alert

Utilize the baler’s built-in alerts. The ‘90% Full’ alert helps the operator understand when they should begin finishing off the bale. They will receive another alert signifying ‘Full Bale’ when the bale has reached the predetermined height the operator desires, and the baler will need to be wrapped. Depending on the selection within your monitor the wrap will start automatically or need to be manually started.

#5 – Wrap it Up

Set the proper number of net or twine wraps desired. The number of wraps will depend on the type of hay, and the expected length of time it might be stored before feeding, etc. Certain crops, like wheat straw, are spongey and will require more wraps to keep the final bale from bursting open

The proof in every great bale begins with its shape and density. A well-formed bale with proper density will retain its shape when transported. Getting the density of the bale correct also means you’ll have successfully put more hay into each bale, resulting in less bales you’ll ultimately have to move. Of course, the most important thing to consider when measuring how successfully you’ve baled hay comes down to when the hay is fed to cattle. Healthy hay breeds healthy cattle.

Kubota has 13 Ag Specialists covering the entire U.S. to assist dealers and customers with settings and operation for the M7 and Hay Tools.  All Kubota’s hay tools are backed by two- and three-year standard limited warranties, as well as extended warranties available. Interested in learning how a Kubota baler could help in your hay fields? Schedule a demo with your local Kubota dealer.