lifting bales of hay?

greets all. was hoping to get a tip or two on a 'little project'

i move around quite a bit of hay. big bales.. the rolled up kind. space being a comodity, i'd like to stack them.. but they're heavy.

i'm thinking of making a sort of 'forklift' attachment to go on the back end of my farm tractor. it would work something like this: fire up the tractor, back up (and fork) a bale of hay .. drive it to the pile, lift the bale .. and stack it.

i'm guessing the stacks wouldn't be any taller than

4 bales.. so that'd make it about 12', more or less. i'd spear them in middle (instead of scooping, like a forklift).. so add 2 more feet... 14'.

the bales weigh.. maybe.. 200-300pounds? (in that neighborhood)

the tractor's got hydraulic lines i can use. and i know how i'd attach the thing (copy the hookup on my other equipment)..

how would you do this? what would be the best (cheapest?) way to go about it?

if i go for the forklift option.. the 'rails' would have to telescope down to a reasonable height (4 or 5 feet?) ... will i be able to find (square?) tubing that fit into eachother snug enough?

or would a 'backhoe' type option work better?

2 pistons or so.. and an arm?

any ideas would be much appreciated. thanks,


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Be careful about killing yourself - people do it all the time. I think you are serously underestimating the weight of round bales, for a start. FACE reports are particularly applicable information. Drop "round bale"

+death into a search engine. You also need to beware of having the stack topple and kill you.
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Start with a mast from a forklift even a little electric forklift would be capable of handling bales. There have been many of these masts converted to fit a three point hitch. Then construct a three tined spear. If you do some Googeling you should be able to find info on this project. If these are the same round bales I am familiar with they weigh about 8-900 lbs.

Reply to
Steve Peterson

Yep 6-800 # is common dep on moisture and density. You might just find an old off road lift & use that. Trying to stack rd bales over 2 high usually smashes them & breaks the strings. Greg Sefton

Reply to
Bray Haven

Don't go any higher than two-high, if you do, the bottom bales will be much the worse for it.

Hereabouts, folks fabricate a "spear" for the tractor's three-point hitch and spear the bales in midsection to move them around. Efficient as hell, easily fabricated, easy on, easy off.

More like 500-800#.

Reply to
Tom Stovall

Haven't seen anything stacked higher than two high around here. Two on the ground and one on the top seems reasonable so as not to collapse the lower bales and as far as forklift like attachments... try a forklift attachment like that used to move bales of carpet around. Long pig sticker! Works good!

Reply to
Rossco in Oshawa

Those are some pretty small bales. Virtually nobody around here rolls them smaller than 5' dia and some go all the way out to 6' (the max that most bailers will make). If it's a dense grass then the 6' bails can get as heavy as 2,000 lbs.

How big a tractor and how big is it's 3 point.

The standard solution is a 3 point attachment. If you configure the hookup right then the boom will go from horizontal to near vertical. With another cylinder on the forks you can then rotate the bail down once it's in place. These are routinely used to stack the big round bales two high on a semi truck. But it takes a big tractor in at least the 130 HP range and a category 3 (or is that 4) three point to take the weight that far out.

If you have to go forklift then you need to get a mast off a old forklift. Building it would cost a lot more.

Wayne Cook Shamrock, TX

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Wayne Cook

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Hey Tony,

Those are little big bales. Big ones around here are 6 to 8 foot diameter by 10 feet long, usually wrapped in plastic, and weigh around

2000 pounds. I've seen a "carpet spear" used, like you'd see in a flooring store, and also conventional tractor rear mounted forks.

Fork-lifts don't generally use nested "tubes". They use channel, or I beams, with roller assemblies. Have you considered something like that? If you have heavy welding equipment, you could best fabricate the mast structure. Or just look in any classified ad section and buy an old lift, or just the mast. Here in southern Ontario, we have a monthly "newspaper" called the Tri-Ad. I think itt has at least two "mast only" adverts this month.

Take care.

Brian Laws>greets all.

Reply to
Brian Lawson

On Fri, 13 Feb 2004 21:34:15 GMT, "tony" vaguely proposed a theory ......and in reply I say!:

How big is the tractor? Those bails weigh a bit.

With a lot of weight on the front of the tractor, and maybe even some tucked around the back wheels as well. That weight up that high has quite a leverage. There's also the weight of the machinery itself. May well be more than the bales, but not as high a COG.

If you mean the three point link, remember that this places weight further out the back than a snug-fitting fork lift.

......and safest......!

Not without paying engineering steel prices for it, usually. You may find something, but it's likely to be too big, or small ot thick or thin . You will probably have to build boxes out of angle

Like a crane? A crane places an even greater load on the system, because it's not just up, but out back. It needs to be a lot heftier to carry the same load as well. A forklift relies on being _largely_ in compression.

be careful?

There are commercial ones out there. Maybe look at these for ideas, or even consider a 2ndhand one.

**************************************************** sorry I'm not! remove ns from my header address to reply via email

Spike....Spike? Hello?

Reply to
Old Nick

I think I would get a front end loader for the tractor - then adapt a bale spike to that. DON'T stack more than 2 high! The front end loader can be used for lots of things other than lifting bales. Ken.

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Where do you live?

Do you have any good tools in your shop?

What auction company will your estate be settled through?

Do you have a video camera and a tripod for it?

If you live in an area that uses round bales a fair bit, there should be lots of guys near you that have safe effective handling capability. Perhaps it would be good to go talk with the local farm dealers and maybe the odd hauling operator to see what is safe and effective before you get yourself killed, or worse, kill someone else.

Locally (North of Edmonton AB) most of the guys are using a spike on the front of a large tractor for moving bales and loading feed grinders. Most of the pick-ups from feilds are being done with picker trucks, made for handling round bales. My wife (a horse person) tells me that 1000 pounds is average for hay bales around here. The various straws get baled larger than that.

Of course, you could just buy a decent all terrain forklift.

Cheers Trevor Jones

Reply to
Trevor Jones

Try more on the order of 1,000 pounds. You do not want to stack them more than 2 high. Just lining them up one high is usual practice. That way you can use the ordinary commercially available bale spears designed to fit on a tractor's 3 pt hitch to move them around.


Reply to
Gary Coffman

should something unfortunate happen to me you can have all my stuff, trevor... as long as you can get me out from under the bales. (warning, don't use the homebrew fork)

thanks for everyone's input. i'm leading towards a frontend loading attachment for the tractor. (still homebrew!)

my original post did contain an error on bale weight, i'm converting from metric here.. should have read 2-300 *KG* or about 600lbs.

about stacking them, i've seen some other stack them pretty high..

4 or 5 high, on their side. (they don't lift them, they roll them in & lower them from the 'highside' of the building, into a 'door') ... none of them have had any bales crushed.

so i'm guessing here that the bales in the states are much larger/heavier than what we use out here.

i'll post the movie if i make one... should the camera and tripod withstand the devastation.

thanks again,


Reply to

That would be a correct guess - Round bales over here typically run in the 1500-2000 pound (roughly 680-910 Kilos) range. Just *SLIGHTLY* larger than the ones you're talking about :)

You (or at least, I) *NEVER* see those stacked, on their sides or otherwise, more than 3 deep. Most hay growers won't even go to 2 high with them. The vanishingly few who do go to three layers typically do it exactly once before swearing "never again, uh-uh, no way, not happening, no-how, no matter what".

Even more fun are the *TRULY* huge "bulk bales" - Take a "standard" square bale - Usually about 3 feet by 2 feet by 18 inches, two or three wires/twines, typically about 80-100 pounds. Now blow it up until it's

12 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 6 feet tall, with 8-12 twines/wires, and weighing in at anywhere from 2000-3500 pounds becuse they're super-compressed. BIG muthas!

You don't mess with those without either a very large squeeze, or a

*STOUT* team of horses. With a squeeze, you can stack 'em. With a team, you can too, given some more equipment (mainly, a specially built ramp to skid 'em up, and chains/ropes to hook up to them) and extra room to work. I've never seen those stacked higher than 3, except once at a seaport where they were waiting to go on a boat to who-knows-where. They were piled 6 deep, directly under a gantry crane normally used for hoisting the shipping containers into place, which had quite clearly been used for stacking them.

Yes, I've worked with those truly big ones. Using horses. And custom built the stacking ramp myself. Even with the know-how and a well-trained team, it's some serious labor, for both teamster and horses.

Reply to
Don Bruder

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