Hay bale clamp
Using a bale spear to haul unwrapped round hay bales can ruin the protection of the plastic. A hay clamp squeezes bales to pick them up, and may provide more control moving bales from place to place.
Radio interview source: Cory Sarver, Engineering Manager, Woods Equipment Company
When moving large round hay bales from one place to another, many people opt to use a bale spear on their tractor. But an attachment called a bale clamp, or squeeze, is another option for moving hay bales with a loader or skid steer.
Cory Sarver is an engineering manager with Woods Equipment Company. He says a clamp comes in handy when you don't want to penetrate the bale and ruin its protective covering.
"It's a key tool for somebody that would wrap their round bales in plastic and then they need to take them back to the farm yard and stack them for storage," he says. "You don't want to use a bale spear because then you're poking holes in your freshly-wrapped bales. You'll allow moisture to get in, the material will rot, and you'll also allow air to get out. You don't want to do that."
The bale clamp has a 2,000 lb. capacity so it can handle any size of round bale – wrapped or unwrapped. Sarver says it will also pick up square bales. The clamp is mounted on the front of the tractor or skid steer and has a rounded tubular frame. It runs on a hydraulic cylinder that provides the squeeze and release action, and the constant pressure eliminates dropped bales.
Because a round bale has the tendency to roll away, the mechanism allows you to have control when making contact with it.
"It has a stabilizer to help you position the clamp when you're getting against the bale, it's basically a stop so that you don't push too hard," says Sarver. "Then you can pick it up and orient it, with a dumping or rolling back motion of the loader."
A back stop mechanism prevents the bale from rolling backwards onto the operator. Be sure your tractor is able to carry the load, and use counterweights on the back side if needed to stabilize it.
Bale clamps cost around $2,500.
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