Hay Grapple

Hay Grapple

One of the lessons we learned during our first cutting this year was that there's a labor problem. I decided to fix the labor problem by adding equipment. There's quite a few options for handling square bales, but I was most interested in a hay accumulator/grapple that hooks to the front of a tractor.

This would allow us to pick the bales up in the field, load them on a trailer or wagon, then drive them to the barn. Part of my barn I could even load with the grapple, but at the very least it would get it to the barn without manual labor. This would allow us to put 100% of our hired labor in the barn instead of keeping one or two in the field. I decided it was worth a shot.

 

 

This attachment was really meant for a skid steer, but my tractor has the skid steer quick connect on the loader. The one thing my tractor didn't have was a third hydraulic function on the joystick. Adding one is fairly expensive, so I decided to have hoses made that would run all the way to my rear remotes. Once I got the hoses made and installed, I gave it a try.

 

 

There's a fairly steep learning curve, but overall I'm very happy with it.

 

My plan for the next cutting is to not hire labor the first day. First thing, we will fill all three hay wagons. Two will be put in the barn and one will be tarped outside. Next, I'll start loading the gooseneck trailer, driving it to the barn, then unloading the trailer and loading the barn with the grapple. The second day I'll hire labor, and they'll have three wagons to unload as soon as they get there. This gives us some buffer room if something breaks down so we aren't paying people to stand around. While they're unloading the wagons, I'll keep loading and unloading the gooseneck. As soon as they get the first wagon unloaded, I'll load it back up so there's no gap in work for them.