Hay Equipment Maintenance Checklists

Year-round equipment maintenance makes for better hay and lower repair costs.

By Tharran E. Gaines

In this video, hear advice on hay equipment maintenance from Dean Morrell, product marketing manager for Hesston® by Massey Ferguson hay products, who also happens to be one of the most knowledgeable experts in the field.

Web Exclusive: Tips from Producers

Downtime is costly for any hay producer, but it’s even worse for commercial operators who depend on quality hay for their livelihood. That’s one reason Larry Krepline goes through his two Hesston big square balers and Hesston windrower every fall with the help of Gruett’s Inc., his Massey Ferguson dealer in Potter, Wisc. That is, after he totally cleans each machine at the end of the season with compressed air and/or a power washer.

“One of their technicians actually comes out here to the farm and we go through the full checklist on each machine,” Krepline says. “After that, my crew and I will make most of the repairs ourselves based on the recommendations. At the very least, we’ll change all the fluids, including the oil in the cutterbed, and replace all the disc header knives, along with the bolts and bushings. I don’t need any of them breaking during the season.”

With three windrowers, two big square balers and ten 3-twine balers, Mark Atkinson, owner of Atkinson Hay Company in Dixon, Calif., has a big maintenance project each winter, too. However, by the time he and his crew finish, Atkinson says every machine they own has been restored to like-new condition.

“In fact, our dealer usually has somebody waiting for a machine when we trade it,” he adds. “We literally take every machine apart and rebuild it, replacing any part that we have doubts about. If there’s any question about whether it will make it through the next hay season, we replace it,” he adds, noting that replacement parts include everything from knotter bill hooks to bale chamber side plates. “Downtime is too expensive to risk it.”

“Months down the road it can be hard to remember that noise you wanted to check out before next season,” says Dean Morrell, product marketing manager for Hesston® by Massey Ferguson hay products. “By writing it down, when you notice what might be a problem, you have a big head start on maintenance that will leave your equipment in top condition, ready for another productive season.”

Then, once it’s time to perform that maintenance, you’re a step closer to being finished—even closer with these checklists.

Web Exclusive: Maintaining Rakes

  • Clean the rake to remove dirt, dust and hay debris.
  • Add grease at all grease points.
  • Replace pickup teeth as needed.
  • Conduct a thorough walk-around inspection to identify other service and maintenance needs, including rotating the basket and raking wheels to identify worn bearings.
  • Check and repack wheel bearings annually. Inspect tires for wear and weather checking; inflate to the correct pressure.

Hay Preservative Application Systems

  • Disconnect the monitor, electronic Precision Information Processor and wiring. Store in a dry, dust-free, rodent-proof area.
  • Drain the system and clean the lines and tank with water. Secure the tank lid before storing. Ensure the pump is drained completely prior to below-freezing temperatures.
  • Replace applicator spray tips and main screens and gaskets.
  • After 400 hours of use, rebuild applicator pumps.
  • Also, replace the spray tips, intake check valve and tip check valves.


  • Sweep or use air pressure to remove dirt, dust and hay debris. Aggressive washing should be avoided to reduce the opportunity for rust.
  • Grease all grease zerks on wear points.
  • Change hydraulic system filters.
  • After changing hydraulic filters, run the machine to purge air from the system and reduce the opportunity for condensation to form during the winter.
  • Check fluid levels in all gearboxes and change as recommended in the operator’s manual.
  • Replace broken pickup tines.
  • Oil chains before placing in storage.
  • On round balers, inspect belts for checking and other wear. Loosen belt tensioners so they are not sitting under full tension through the winter.


  • Begin your inspection at the header, looking for wear and components that should be replaced.
  • For sicklebar headers, replace cutterbar teeth and ledger plates. Replace the guards yearly when storing machines, or add this to your list for completion during winter.
  • On disc mowers, replace knives and rotate or replace worn turtles covering the knives.
  • Grease all wear points, including those on the lift system.
  • For self-propelled machines, be sure to change engine oil and filters.
  • Replace all air filters, including the cab air filter.
  • Examine all belts for checking and signs of wear.
  • Inspect tires for wear that might require tire replacement. Inflate to the required air pressure.
  • Check fluid levels in all gearboxes, cutterbeds, etc. and change as recommended in the operator’s manual.
  • Check and blow dirt and debris from radiators. On machines with “smart” reversing fans, such as the V-Cool™ system found on Hesston WR Series self-propelled windrowers, radiator screens already should be clean and free of dirt and hay.