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Round Bale feeders

  • 22-11-2021 2:01pm
    Registered Users Posts: 89 ✭✭

    Hi All

    We have moved away from pit silage this year to round bales. They are a little awkward to feed with, but we have less waste.

    Thinking of getting a round bale feeder for the tractor or fit on loader.

    Are any of ye using round bale feeder that unwind the bale?

    What make are you using?






  • Registered Users Posts: 1,180 ✭✭✭ruwithme

    I was interested to read this given the thread title op,you probably haven't gotten any replies as I reckon a few on here would be " absolutely disgusted "at the suggestion of a round bale feeder in the month of November .(imagine the gutters ,if ya had a few heavies round that)

    Sorry I can't help on the unwinder as I don't have one, but I'd suggest changing the thread title to bale unwinder or something close to it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,936 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    What do you need to the unwinder for. I feed bales. Mostly I just place full bales at barrier. If I need to split a bale I put the spiked in around half way and lift bale with a little shake or two it will split in half and you can carry the half a short distance..

    If you had a pit you must have a tine or shear grab. Either will split bales and and feed them.

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,240 ✭✭✭StevenToast

    No need for an unwinder....

    I use a pitchfork to break up the it into them.

    "Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining." - Fletcher

  • Registered Users Posts: 492 ✭✭divillybit

    Bale unrollers are a great machine. Bought a 2nd hand one a few years ago, wouldn't be without it. 3 locals have bought unrollers after seeing how we've gotten on with ours. Feed about 400 bales a year with it. Have a hustler, but they are all very similar mechanically. Id buy a used one like in the link above if you were looking seriously at getting one as they are pricey from new. There's very little to go wrong with them and hold their value well.

    There's very little waste silage as the cattle get new silage every 24 - 36 hours. Theres very little graping to be done now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,909 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    How many bales are you feeding daily? Are your passageways setup to work with an unroller - could they also work with a bale splitter? I'd say there would be value in them if you are feeding out big numbers of bales. For smaller operators a bale splitter might be just as good.

    A disadvantage would be the weight on front axle - they weigh in between 500kg - 750kg depending on manufacturer and spec. Then you put a bale on top of that which is around 800kg upwards. Puts a strain on the tractor if it isn't a big machine. Would your tractor be strong enough for it?

    Good write up on the common ones here:

    Would a bale shear work for you?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 492 ✭✭divillybit

    As @funkey_monkey mentioned above, an unroller is heavy enough when loaded and would be hard on a front loader so it's best to use the 3 point linkage unless you have a tele handler. They are quite wide but you get used to it. They are a great job in sheds where you can't reverse up perpendicular to the barrier, a bale splitter is best for those types of sheds but for a 3 Bay back to back slatted shed like what we have its the best feeding option for us anyway.

    A front loader is very handy for putting the bale onto the unroller as you can lift the bale higher than using the spikes on the 3 point linkage. This is important as when taking off the mesh off the bale you have to be fairly quick cos if a lump of silage falls from the bale and brings the mesh with it then the mesh gets caught In the spikes on the conveyor.

    A hydraulic top link is a must also, it helps keep the unroller level or slightly tilted.

  • Registered Users Posts: 89 ✭✭Havenowt

    I'm away all day and the old lad is near 75 and isn't as fond of the grape as he used too. With a un-winder he would be able to tip away on hes own.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,709 ✭✭✭✭Donald Trump

    Big advantage of the bale shear is not having to get in and out multiple times if you are feeding a lot of bales outdoors and it is pissing rain. They are very heavy though so you need a decent loader

    The unwinder thing looks neat though. Never had one here so couldn't comment on their practicality as regards time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 89 ✭✭Havenowt

    I'm not around and old lad is nearly 75, so the less forking the better. It will be a good investment as it will enable him to tip away.

  • Registered Users Posts: 89 ✭✭Havenowt

    Tractor 4wd 95hp JD6220.. so would use on rear of tractor. He wouldn't be going through to many bales a day. It would be just to take the labour out of it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 17,936 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    I am nearly 60 myself and seldom have to fork in silage I just put complete bales in front of pens, cattle get fed no more than three days silage and usually only two days at the time. as bales are not broken up they hold well. I just push in bales as need.

    I can split a bale in two with the bake spike as well. Total Net cost of my feeding implement is 250 euro. It's a cheap two spike bale lifter.

    You just have to forget about being fussy.

    I can understand maybe if it's a narrow central passage bit if it a shed with access just feed complete bales the cattle will do the rest.

    And I have no waste

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,909 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    What way are your sheds laid out:

    • Do you have pens on either side or is it single sided?
    • What width roughly are the passageways?
    • Would your father be willing/able to drive an unroller?
    • Do you have a front loader on your tractor?

    My thought would be if you don't have a loader I'd consider getting one and put a spike on front and weight block on rear. It would mean that your father doesn't have to look behind him - saving his back/neck - and would mean that when the bale is in he could break it up and push/pull it along barrier with the loader forks. Plus, can be used for a multitude of other tasks.

    The only down sides to it would be cost and whether your father would work safely* with a loader (not cutting plastic under a highly raised bale, driving with bale up high, etc).

    Bass's method might work if you have the room to manoeuvre.

    If you have passageways on both sides or can drive in perpendicular to the feed gate, then I'd also consider a bale slice like the McHale. When split down the middle they usually open out to about 10ft. Disadvantage is that you need to push the silage in centre of the passageway out to the gates, so might not be suitable for him.

    The unrollers seem to have 'safe' way of unwrapping the bales as they are unwrapped on unroller. It would also allow your father to avoid pushing up silage to them as it is all put in front of them. If you think it is the system for you and your father will be able use the implement behind him, then if you want to give your father some comfort/assistance on the farm in his old age then it is the one for you. Just don't go on a solo run without finding out if he would use it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,352 ✭✭✭Jb1989

    And show him YouTube clips of all the different machines so he can see in reality.

  • Registered Users Posts: 89 ✭✭Havenowt

    Slatted shed is about 30yrs old 3 bay either side. Passage-way wouldn't be very wide, so would be driving parallel to feed area

    We have loader and shear grab, but you still end up grapping as you cant have a bale in the middle of the pen either side or there be hardly any room to walk around with bags of nuts morn/eve.

    The unwinder would leave center passage free and minimal pushing in of silage.

  • Registered Users Posts: 492 ✭✭divillybit

    @funky_monkey makes some really good points in his post there. We have a 3 bay shed like yours with pens either side of the feed passage. The bale unroller we have was got specifically for this kind of shed configuration but now its used to feed silage even in another shed where the bale splitter would be a better option.

    There is alot of looking around as the bale is being let out of the unroller. As you're quite near the feed barrier you gotta watch the cattle. But if the tractor is put in low low gear you can creep along and occasionally glance forward but mainly be looking back. One full rotation of the unroller with a new bale will let off alot of silage compared to if you have half a bale on it so you're usually increasing the speed of the unroller as the bale gets smaller to ensure the volume of silage at the barrier is the same. There is a bit into using it but you get used to it quickly and it's enjoyable. The cattle get used to it too. The spikes on the conveyor are quite sharp so it could cut an animals nose but I've never had an animal get a bad cut. It's nice to be able to walk up the feed passageway afterwards with two neat rows of silage left in by the barriers and not have to be climbing over silage left in the middle of the passageway if you are carrying a bag of meal. You can then pay more attention to inspecting the stock and drinkers etc. that's been my experience with it anyway

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,490 ✭✭✭White Clover

    My advice is go and buy it straight away. The cost is not going to put you out of business and as you say will make life easier for your father.

  • Registered Users Posts: 374 ✭✭trg

    Would the tanco bale shear be more versatile? Would be still useful if you switched from bales to pit and no getting out of the tractor at all + facing forwards not turning around

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,395 ✭✭✭hopeso

    To me, this sounds like your passage might be too narrow to work an unroller comfortably?

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,936 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    Often the solution to a narrow passage is to consider taking out a side wall. If you are lucky enough to have a side wall either North or North East take it out and put a feed passages outside and barriers on it if possible. You can bolt on an overhang in time to keep silage from getting wet.

    Slava Ukrainii

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,909 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    If your father is happy to use it and it would make his life easier then go for it. Just make sure you have sufficient room, it rolls both ways and get one with the flared cones for putting spikes into the unroller - make life handier. Better thought out ones have the pump for the drive protected.

    A Hustler is 2m wide (6ft 9inches). @Havenowt - do you know your passage width?

    Size (L x W x H):2071 x 2055 x 1051mm

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  • Registered Users Posts: 492 ✭✭divillybit

    Id look at used unrollers before buying new, great savings to be made. The Hustler in the link above seems to be keenly priced but it's in Sterling. It would be my choice. I'd imagine it'll sell very quickly.

    The Nugent one in the 1st link is there at the dealer in Athlone a while it looks but looks very clean. I've tried ringing these guys before about a trailer and they never answer so if you're in the Midlands it'd be worth the spin to check it out in person.

    The Record in the 3rd link is interesting as it feeds out at a higher level but needs a 2nd machine to load it and only feeds out to one side. I thought it was worth adding as the video shows it working but I don't think they are a runner in this case.

    Lastly the Bridgeway spike unroller would be the cheapest option but realistically are only good for unrolling a bale into a diet feeder.

  • Registered Users Posts: 89 ✭✭Havenowt

    Nugent in Athlone @ €4900 has high bars for saggy bale there but not fitted.

    Hustler in North £3500 (€4200 ish) plus getting it costs. looks a cleaner one.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,909 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    Have you looked at a Balemaster?

    Edit: looks single sided? If so, a bad omission from the spec.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,909 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    Is there much difference in dimensions/weight between the two?

    Looks like with the Hustler that you can feed in at either end whereas the Nugent is single sided. Does that mean the Nugent has a bi-directional drive whereas for the Hustler you need to attach at opposite ends depending on what side you want to feed?

    That could mean for the Nugent you could possibly do left and right bays with the same bale as it would drive both sides - which would be handy. Just check what way the Hustler operates as in the first picture I can see guide cones for the spikes - which indicates it can be hooked into at that side, plus what looks like the coupling for the drive at top left.

  • Registered Users Posts: 492 ✭✭divillybit

    I think that's good value for the Hustler, even allowing for maybe 300 or 400 euro to get it brought to you by someone.

    Like what @funky_monkey said, the Huster is the newer version and can be driven from either end and has the automatic latch mechanism rather than using a rope to release it from the spike unit.

    Being able to swap sides is very useful if you get a bale that doesn't want to unroll correctly. You do get unclipped bale which can refuse to unroll as you are trying to feed it out in the same direction the bale was made if that makes any sense. Eventually it will feed out but I've found it happens with dry unchopped bales especially

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,909 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    @divillybit - is there no advantage to having bi-directional? Take his setup which is feeding on both sides of the passageway - rather than feeding down one side, then re-loading and feeding down the other side, is there not an advantage by being able to fully feed the last bay, then the middle bays and finally the front bays? It would mean not having to reverse over feeding cattle to do the other side.

    Edit: Looks like as well as being driveable from either end it is bi-directional. This would be how I'd use it - feeding a bay at a time @ 3:25 onwards:

  • Registered Users Posts: 492 ✭✭divillybit

    That's a good video to show the unroller working in a narrow passage way. That operator has a good system going. The tractor would be under pressure with a wet bale on the loader but it works well. His bales look fairly well chopped which helps alot.

    Our passage ways wouldn't be as narrow as that. Being able to work the unroller from both ends is a good job.

    @Havenowt let us know what you decide on.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,352 ✭✭✭Jb1989

    Never really seen it going till that video.

    Youd want to be nimble at the reverseing in a passage way of that size or an animals head could be hit, and good at aiming the spikes into machine after dropping the bale off.

    Does spread out the silage great alright, just a bulky item for safety reasons.

    Bale splitter and a silage pusher for front loader would be safer for elderly and tight sheds in my opinion.

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,936 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves

    A couple of point to feed any bale you have to get up and down off the tractor twice to take off plastic and netting.

    You will need a big tractor with good hydraulics to operate it with a front loader. It would be awkward to operate on the rear of a tractor trying to look where you are going and watching silage at the rear. Another issue with a rear operated is the hydraulic sensitivity on the leavers will not be near as good as on a joystick.

    With the be dispenser on your weight is well out from loader. I expect it the equivalent if having two bales on a front loader. I am not sure how maneuverable a tractor would be with a machine like that on it. Visibility around you might not be great either.

    I seriously consider a shed adjustment before I consider a piece if kit like that. There is a lot of moving parts therefore there will be maintenance issues longterm. You will be putting a large amount of strain and stress on you tractor and loader. You will need dry bales, if they are wet heavy bales even a big 110+ HP tractor might struggle

    Slava Ukrainii

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,909 ✭✭✭funkey_monkey

    I think we need @Havenowt measure the width of the passageway so we can see what in reality is his definition of "wouldn't be very wide". There must be a bit of width to it if his father can get down with a JD6220. My main concern as I mentioned previously is having to look rearwards.

    I was looking into a piece of work for our place and needed to find out the loading on a front axle when loaded with a bale. A hustler weighs in around 440kg.

    Only the OP really knows what will suite their setup and father. Hopefully we have given enough food for thought to help them make a decision one way or another.