How does a hay baler work?

How a hay baler works depends on which type of baler it is. There are two main types of hay balers – Cylindrical (Round) and Rectangular (Square).

Both shapes of bale have their own benefits and uses. Round bales, due to their shape, can be left in the field as they are more weatherproof (rain runs off them), and can also be rolled out in the winter if used for bedding.

Square bales are easier and safer to stack, either on a trailer for transport or in the barn. They also help to fill all the available space in the barn so you can get more tonnage in the barn. As you would have seen driving through the countryside, round bales seem to be the most popular out of the two types.

Cylindrical (Round) Hay Balers

round hay baler

As the name suggests, Cylindrical Hay Balers produce round bales. The weight of these bales depends on the size of the bale (often 4ft or 5ft) and whether they are packed as ‘hardcore’ or ‘softcore’ bales. As the two types suggest, this depicts how ‘tightly’ they are packed and therefore have a dramatic effect on the weight of the bales.

The round baler picks the hay from the ground and feeds it into the bale chamber. The hay is then wrapped onto itself by means of six to eight long rubber belts which are around 7 inches wide. As extra hay is picked up and drawn into the baling system, the bale becomes spherical and fills the bale chamber. The hay exerts pressure upon the belts, that is in turn monitored by way of the hydraulic system. As soon as a predetermined tension is reached, a signal is transmitted to the tractor operator. The operator stops the tractor, and the bale is wrapped with baler twine or protecting sheeting. After wrapping, the pressure on the belts is released and the whole rear part of the baler is opened via hydraulic cylinders. The bale then released and rolls out onto the ground. The baler is pulled forward by the tractor, the rear closes, and baling resumes.

Rectangular (Square) Hay Balers

rectangular baler

Square bales, as they tend to be referred to as, are actually rectangular. They can be made to several different lengths but typically it’s 8' for straw bales, 7' for hay bales, and around 4' for haylage/silage bales which are wrapped in a protective film. A tractor or loader are required to move and stack these due to their weight and size. However, like smaller bales, they are in ‘biscuits’ or ‘slices’ so when the strings are cut, a ‘slice’ can be carried easily for conveniently feeding animals.

The hay enters the baler through the pickup, and the teeth gently rake the hay from the floor to prevent rocks or debris entering the baler. Just behind the pickup is the compression bar which holds the hay in location so the auger can move it into the bale chamber. The bale is then compressed and cut to form the correct size and shape. When the desired length and size of bale is reached, the bale is then wrapped with two lengths of baler twine or wire and is fastened securely. When the bale is tied and ready, it is then released on the bale chute and falls to the ground or some models have what’s known as kickers, or bale ejectors, which projects the bale onto a hay rack that is towed behind the baler.

Round Bale Handling Equipment

Handling round bales can be achieved quickly and safely using either our PROFORGE® Soft Hands Big Bale Grab's which can lift up to 900kg and comes with either Euro brackets or JCB Q-Fit brackets or the Albutt F450 Side Squeeze Bale Grab which can lift up to 1000kg.

Sqaure Bale Handling Equipment

When it comes to handling square bales, we have two further models of bale handlers. Both our PROFORGE® Bale Handler/Lifter or our economy version called the PROFORGE® Heavy Duty Unibale Spike are great options for handling square bales.

We offer a large range of Hay & Straw Equipment to suit a variety of needs. Be sure to contact a member of our sales team for more information and guidance on 01778 591225 or

Why not read up further on a recent blog about Bale Grabs for fast handling.

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