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Hay Master
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First cutting of seedling year alfalfa will be baled next week, weather permitting. This will be my first time to use a small square bale grapple on the front end loader. The grapple will pick up four, 38-inch small squares wide, 2 bales long, and 2 bales perpendicular at the front end, or 10 bales. I plan to place plastic (mil thickness ???) on the barn floor and stack on pallets. Barn is 50-ft wide and I need to leave room for round bales of grass hay on one side. What is the best way to stack small squares using this grapple?
 

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I don't have a grapple (yet) so take my advise with a grain of salt.

It sounds to me like you have a "tie" tier pattern that you are stacking with. With this in mind, I would change the orientation of each layer so that the two bales which are perpendicular to the rest are on the opposite side each layer (i.e. - the first layer would have them away from the tractor and the 2nd layer would have them closest to the tractor). This would allow the stack to hold itself together a little better.

A couple of questions that pop into my head are how high can you stack the hay (ceiling height or loader reach may limit this)? Is the barn well ventilated and drained?

I'm sure other folks on here (with more grapple experience) will have some advice for you as well.
 

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We pick up out of the field with a grapple but stack in hay loft and in open shed by hand. If you are used to a good tight solid stack to walk on or build upon, good luck doing it with the grapple. I have a couple of neighbors who stack straw with their grapples. They stack up to the 14' eve and seem to have good luck. There is a learning curve for sure. I am not ashamed to say that I kind of suck with the grapple. You have to be perfectly square and lined up and even then you are going to have issues. We can't "tie" each row because our stacks are not square. It is a pain. We can't stack nearly as high or tight on the wagons.

Take your time and try not to lose your patience. You will need them both.
 

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Dr. Haby,

It appears you have a 10 bale grapple, so while some of what I've learned these last few years applies, your situation will differ somewhat. We use an 8 bale grapple. Here are a few things I've learned using it:

Take your time picking the pallet up. Try to get it as tight as possible using the sidebar before setting the grapple hooks. They stack much better as a tight pallet.

You state you're making 38" bales. Don't be opposed to changing the length of your bales, if your stacks require it. With a 10 bale accumulator, you're probably limited to crossing the end bales on each succeding layer. With an 8 bale we are able to cross them 90 deg. We found by adjusting the bale length a smidgen, the cross stacks matched up better and were more stable.

You'll most probably find you can stack about 6 layers high at first, 7-8 as you gain experience. While it's tempting to stack as high as you can go, save yourself the frustation of having to pick up a fallen stack and limit your stack hieght for a while.

Make as dense of a bale as possible, and the more cured you can stand to make them prior to baling, the better. As the bales finish their sweat and fully cure indoors, they will squat and shift. The denser the bales, the better the stack holds up, especially grapple stacks.

Handle the bales as little as possible with the grapple. In other words, don't grab them 3 different times to move them, when 1 or 2 times is enough. Every time you handle them you risk breaking a string with a hook. I've also found that removing them from an existing stack to another, or onto a trailer tends to loosen the layer some, making it more difficult to re-stack. One thing you can do though, if you have a place for it, is to lay the layer down on a clean spot, and go around to the opposite end and re-snug it and pick it up, Seems to tighten the layer up again.

These are just a few observations and things that I've picked up, and they may not work for you in your case. Best of luck in any case, and enjoy handling your squares with your grapple. I'll never go back to throwing idiot bricks again!

Regards,

Steve
 

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Vincent, I have a couple of the same style grapples....I agree with what Steve mentioned above....some good advice. I might just add one thing, stack by rotating the tie bale ends each layer...first tie facing you...then the next tie on the opposite end. You can pick up either end in the field if your bale length is reasonably close.....now here is my advice. Always overlap the tie end with the four bale end about 2-3 inches during layering. In other words, the tie bale end is always inset a few inches on the four bale end. This gives them much more stability and if you are trailering a load to the barn or delivering, this keeps the tie bales from falling off the sides...which they tend to do if they are not inset on the four bale ends.

I would probably only cut enough to bale a couple of hundred bales the first time you load as this will give you insight without the stress of feeling you will not get it all loaded. You will rapidly learn and your pace will greatly quicken. By the end of the first year, you will have come miles from the first time you stacked. Skidsteers are the berries inside the barn and we stack all of ours with one in the buildings.

Good Luck and enjoy your back/labor saver....they are a real blessing.

Regards, Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Guys, thanks for this input. You have put me several cuttings ahead of trial and error on stacking small squares using a grapple. Originally, my thinking was that I would need to place one layer parallel to the barn side and then come in with the next layer perpendicular to the first layer. This would have involved requiring much more barn empty space to manuever the tractor. (And then I realized that the accumulated bales are longer than wide, so this wouldn't work) However, with the suggestions of rotating the layering 180 degrees, I now believe I can always come into the barn straight onto the stack by alternating picking up the accumulated bales from opposite ends. In other words, one layer picked up with the two horizontal bales at the front of the grapple and the next layer picked up with the two horizontal bales at the back of the gapple. This will save much needed space in the 50-ft wide barn to stack round bales of grass hay along side the aflalfa small squares. It also will allow me to remove the small squares from the barn much easier using the small square bale grapple. Yes, I'm being optimistic but with practice and patience (as you suggested) this should work. I'm anxious to try it as soon as weather permits adequate drying time to begin the haying process. I added the hydraulic hoses and connections to the grapple today, so it's ready to go..

Another learning curve is going to involve accumulating the small squares in the field. My accumulator will pick up 10 small square bales, four wide x two long x 2 perpendicular without dragging this alfalfa on the ground (several bloggers on another Hay Talk Thread were adament about not dragging high quality alfalfa across the ground). Once the first bale enters the accumulator, I will pick up the front end of the accumulator to allow the bale to slide to the rear and then lower the front of the accumulator to pick up the next bale. The problem I foresee is being able to see the bales entering the center two chambers of the accumulator as the tractor blocks this view. Once the ten bales are together, I will need to lift the accumulator several feet, tilt the front end down to allow the accumulated bales to slide, and then back away to set the 10 accumulated bales down. This is going to take a little more time than if the bales were accumulated by dragging them on the ground and simply lifting the accumulator and backing away. It also likely may cause the pile of accumulated bales to be looser than when using an accumulator that drags the bales on the ground. I'll have to be extra careful to retighten the accumulated bales with the grapple before setting the grapple hooks into them.

I plan to put down 6 mil, 12-ft wide clear plastic, place four pallets on it with the closed ends parallel to the side walls of the barn, stack as high as I dare, and then roll the plastic out for four more pallets and continue the stack. Depending on how it works, I initially may lay out two sets of four pallets side by side and make two stacks at a time. In my thinking, this should allow me to make a tighter stack. By the way, the barn is open ended at the south and north ends with completely closed west and east sides. With any north or south wind blowing, the barn creates a wind-tunnel effect. However, the 50' x 100' barn is half full of round bales of grass hay remaining at the south end after this past feeding season and this will block the wind somewhat from the small square bales of alfalfa. My thought is that I will need some space between the stored RB grass hay and the alfalfa to allow air movement through the pallets and small squares.

Comments???

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and experience.

Vincent
 

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If you can double layer your plastic, you decrease any potential moisture problems. Also underneath the pallet, put down a bag of shavings. Any mildew smell from the bottom bales is normally diminished by the pine scent of the shavings and they also absorb any moisture that may occur. May sound expensive to put a five dollar bag of shavings down, but what does ten bales thrown away at mulch price cost you on a entire bottom layer?
 

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The problem I foresee is being able to see the bales entering the center two chambers of the accumulator as the tractor blocks this view.

By the way, the barn is open ended at the south and north ends with completely closed west and east sides. With any north or south wind blowing, the barn creates a wind-tunnel effect. However, the 50' x 100' barn is half full of round bales of grass hay remaining at the south end after this past feeding season and this will block the wind somewhat from the small square bales of alfalfa. My thought is that I will need some space between the stored RB grass hay and the alfalfa to allow air movement through the pallets and small squares.
Vincent,

As far as the sight issue with the grapple, you could try mounting a remote backup camera that is sold at most auto parts stores for cars. Locate the camera so that it catches your blind spot from the cab.

As for the air movement, I think what you have described will work well. You don't necessarily need the air blowing on the hay itself, just good airflow through the barn so that any moisture given off by the bales to the air is cleared away.
 

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Vincent,

You've pretty much got more answers than I could give you. I can only can suggest a couple of points. One is to rethink your pallets. I used to save the blasted things I got pelleted bedding/feed/etc on and after a bit of time under bales they were shot and breaking. More trouble than they were worth. Over time I built, a pile of 6'X6' pallets (my bays are 18'X18') using 2X6 spacers. They are heavy but I get a lot of circulation under the bales and no need for plastic. Some are 5-6 years old. My sheds are 3-sided, so I lay a row of pallets against the back, stack on them, and fill my way out of the bay. I don't worry about tie-layers either on the trailer or in the shed. As Steve said, dense, cured bales don't move around. I usually stack 7 layers high with the grapple and the guy that works for me stuffs them to the roof by hand. He's the stacking-meister, I'm just the tractor driver. Anyway, he has to live with the results.

With a 2-sided barn, I think I'd build a wall of round bales on one end and stack the squares against them to keep the squares protected from driving rain. Sounds like you've already got one.

Not sure I can get my head around your accumulator lifting/lowering....what kind is it? When picking up in the field, my grapple (Hoelscher) has the back and one side closed. I go to the bundle at a slight angle and use the back/side to firm the bundle up before I set the hooks. I do the same thing, taking them off the trailer and very seldom have any drops. Good luck....getting rid of my old stacker wagon and going to the Hoelscher was one of the best things I've done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Trailing an accumulator, such as a Hoelscher, behind the baler would be the ideal, but since I don't have my own haying equipment I didn't want to hamper the person doing my baling by asking him to modify his baler and tow an accumulator. I can't respond to your question about the accumulator at this time as it is a prototype that may need modification. Dragging grass hay on the ground may be okay, but dragging alfalfa small square bales likely will break off new growth from the alfalfa crowns, put soil into the bales, and may damage the sisal used to tie the bales. New growth initiates at crowns about the time alfalfa begins to set flowers.

Your 2 x 6 pallets appear to be a good modification allowing you to not need to use plastic on the barn floor especially in your area that can receive so much rain some years. Do you move and set them using frontend loader hay spears?
 

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I'm considering a grapple but don't really want to be using a skid steer on my field. I know people do it but it sure seems like it would tear it up.
You just make wider turns and don't try to turn on a dime. Just like you were driving a skid steer in your yard. I haven't accumulated with a skid steer in a field but I've retrieved round bales from the field with skid loader. No turns on a dime and you'll be fine.
 

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I'm considering a grapple but don't really want to be using a skid steer on my field. I know people do it but it sure seems like it would tear it up.
Wheeled or tracks? Seen lots of tracked skidsteers moving baleage and they don't tear up the field. We used our wheeled one for the first time this year as my son runs it and the damage is minimal if you take the above precautions.
 

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First cutting of seedling year alfalfa will be baled next week, weather permitting. This will be my first time to use a small square bale grapple on the front end loader. The grapple will pick up four, 38-inch small squares wide, 2 bales long, and 2 bales perpendicular at the front end, or 10 bales. I plan to place plastic (mil thickness ???) on the barn floor and stack on pallets. Barn is 50-ft wide and I need to leave room for round bales of grass hay on one side. What is the best way to stack small squares using this grapple?
New Holland balewagon and problem solved
 

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I run a wheeled skidsteer accumulating, I just do wide turns and took ballast off the back so the rear is lighter and doesn't heavy scrub with a full load in turns
 
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