Rebaled Means Revalued

Even with the extra effort and time, rebaling grass and straw proves a profitable trend for many producers.

By Tharran E. Gaines

Solid, yes. Dependable and best in class, for sure. Yet, there’s nothing necessarily magical about the Hesston by Massey Ferguson 1840 baler that Michael Nance uses to produce small square bales. However, it might seem so when hay that enters the pickup can double in price by the time it comes out the bale chute.

That’s because the MF1840 is actually used to rebale round bales and large square bales of grass hay and straw into small square bales that are sold to hobby farmers, horse owners and contractors.

As president of Nance Tractor & Implement, Inc., the Massey Ferguson dealer in McConnells, South Carolina, Nance sells some of the bales through the family equipment dealership. However, he also supplies the market via several local feed stores.

While Nance bales some hay directly from the windrow in his own fields, the majority is rebaled using a stationary system located in a building across the road from the dealership.

There, a commercial bale converter unrolls or separates round and big square bales, fluffs up the hay or straw, and feeds it into the pickup on the stationary MF1840. As bales leave the bale chute, they’re fed into a Bale Baron, which packages them into bundles of 18 or 21 bales for shipping or storage in enclosed semi-trailers.

According to Nance, the MF1840 is ideal for the job, not just because it produces tight 14- x 18-inch bales, but because its in-line design feeds hay in from below via a pre-forming chamber. Because each flake is pre-formed before it goes into the bale chamber, bale density is uniform from top to bottom, end to end … which means “banana-shaped bales” are nonexistent.

Farther south, near Alma, Georgia, Cory Tyre sells up to 250,000 small square bales annually through the wholesale market, which primarily supplies the horse hay industry. While part of the crop is baled in the field, several thousand bales are produced by rebaling round bales into small rectangular bales.

Tyre simply uses a bale processor to shred round bales into a windrow that can be picked up with his MF1840 baler. On average, Tyre says he can increase the value of his Bermuda hay by around 50%. However, he insists there are other reasons for baling the crop as round bales and later rebaling it into small square bales.

“We tend to get a lot of rain in this part of the South,” he says, noting that he uses a Hesston by Massey Ferguson Model 2946 to put up the round bales. “So, there can be a pretty narrow window for getting 1,000 acres of hay baled and off the field. By putting it up in big round bales and storing it indoors, we can get it up quicker and rebale them when it’s convenient.”

Both Tyre and Nance agree, though, that you can’t expect to take poor-quality hay and improve it by rebaling it into small bales. It’s also best to stick with grass hay or straw, since rebaling alfalfa bales—no matter how careful or experienced the operator—will result in more leaf loss and decreased nutritional value. However, if the goal is to increase the value of the crop, while getting it off the field quicker, rebaling may be a viable option.