Better Horse Hay

Texas forage grower produces quality hay quicker, thanks to Hesston windrower and baler.

By Jason Jenkins | Photos By Jason Jenkins

As an equine forage producer, Matthew Menke of Hempstead, Texas, strives to offer his customers the highest-quality hay. To do so, speed is key: getting the hay cut, dried, baled and in the barn as fast as possible. During the past three seasons, Menke has come to rely on Hesston by Massey Ferguson® equipment to make his goal a reality.

In 2016, he upgraded his disc mower, purchasing a WR9870 self-propelled windrower to cut his Bermudagrass hay. He says the machine changed the way he and his team do almost everything.

“The cutter has taken our business from being average to being one of the best in the state,” Menke says. “Those steel-on-steel conditioners really do a great job of crushing that stem and getting it dried out quickly, which also helps with our color.”

Howard Menke pulls an MF1840 square baler through the field.

Thanks to the faster drydown, Menke now bales two days after cutting rather than three days, which allows him more flexibility and opportunities to harvest the crop at optimal quality in smaller windows between rain events. The WR9870 also cuts faster, freeing up half a day for an employee to help with other tasks.

Menke’s positive experience with the windrower led him to consider other Hesston® equipment. Needing to increase capacity without increasing personnel or equipment, he replaced two side-delivery balers with a pair of MF1840 in-line balers earlier in 2018.

The Hesston baler’s large pickup reel easily handles wide, fluffy windrows without leaving hay behind, and the large twine boxes and dependable knotters translate into increased productivity—up to 3,000 bales per day per machine, Menke says. The MF1840’s in-line design produces more consistent bales and, as a result, creation of “banana” bales is now virtually nonexistent. And because the baler is no longer offset behind the tractor, he adds that transport down the road and through gates between fields is easier, and the use of GPS and autosteer is now possible when baling.

Menke says that AGCO® dealer WRI Outdoors & Tractors of Bryan, Texas, has provided the highest customer service, even though they are more than an hour away. “We’ve been impressed,” he says. “Yesterday, I had a small issue. I texted a picture to Lance [Wright], my salesman, and within 30 minutes, he emailed a diagram and two possible solutions. It was exactly what we needed. We were back up and running.”