Preparing hay equipment for the season
Those who make hay know to do it when the sun shines. Sometimes it’s a very narrow window of opportunity, so the last thing you want is downtime because the machinery isn’t cooperating. This is a good time to check over your equipment so it’s ready when you are.
Dennis Murphy is an extension safety specialist at Penn State University. He says to make sure your safety equipment is in place, including PTO shields. Check that belts, chain drives, and other things are attached and not off of a sprocket. Also look at the tires. If you see cracks or rot starting, there’s a good chance you could blow a tire out in the field.
Before you power up anything, Murphy recommends moving parts by hand.
"Try to move that fly wheel on the bale chamber by hand just to make sure that it turns and to make sure that the knotter is still turning and trying to turn knots," says Murphy. "If you can do things by hand it’s always good because it’s slow and you can see what’s going on. But then you should also hook it up to the tractor and engage it in as low gear as possible, low speed as possible, to see how things are operating as well and see if anything needs adjusted."
Murphy also recommends checking anything that should be sharpened.
"If you have a sickle bar in any of your machinery you need to make sure that those are sharp, but also make sure that the knife blades are actually there and have not broken off or been damaged over time," says Murphy. "If you have flail choppers, those can be sharpened so that they cut and pull correctly. If you have crimping rolls, you want to make sure that they are adjusted so that they’re not too tight, but that they’re tight enough so that they actually crimp the material as it goes through."
Murphy says most people don’t think about checking the land itself. Go out and look for any new groundhog holes, large rocks, and other hazards that might have cropped up since last year.
It's not just the equipment, there are other preparations to make before making hay
What equipment will you need?
Safety tips while using haying equipment
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