Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Feeding Round Bales

Using a Tractor to Move Round BalesIt's important to have the right equipment when you wish to feed round bales of hay to your horses. In the old days, I can remember fighting with the bales...first to get the bales onto bucket extensions on our old tractor, running chains around them to hold them in place and then having the tractor struggle to lift and carry them into the field. All the hassle made putting out the hay a major event and not one in which my non-horsey husband was terribly happy to participate.

We also had hay feeders that were not built specifically for round bales - they were lightweight, easily bent, and could easily be pushed by the horses. And push they would, right into trees, if need be. When the hay got low, they wouldn't be able to reach the leftovers in the middle, so they'd shove with their chests to try to reach it. On those days, after all the work to get the round bale onto the tractor and into the field, we had to hunt around to even find the feeder! To make the job even more fun, this was usually done after a long work day, in the dark, in sub-zero temperatures.

Round Bale FeederNow we have a bale feeder made specifically for equines*:
  • The bottom circle is high enough that our hungry horses cannot step into it;
  • The sides are made so that horses can't get their heads caught;
  • And they also can’t rub off their manes (as I have seen others do when using a bale feeder designed for cattle).
Today the job is a snap. With a heavy duty bale feeder the horses can't shove around, the feeder stays put. Take a tractor that is strong enough to handle the bales, add a spear on the front (and a driver who knows how to navigate 1,000 pounds of hay :) and voilĂ ! We have a job that takes minutes only.
Horse Eating Round Bale Being Lowered by Tractor
The end result is being able to safely transport the round bales and safety for the horses while eating them. Now if only we can teach them to quit eating their dinner before it has been deposited into the feeder!

*The feeder was purchased at Bjergas' Feed in Brainerd, Minnesota. It's made by Silver Star Industries and is called an XD Crown bale feeder.

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