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Resource Guide

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Pre-Season Checklist

There are several tasks that should be completed to prepare your hay equipment for the season.
These include:

  • Checking tire pressure.
  • Checking and adjusting belt and chain tension.
  • Checking lubrication points (especially if you failed to do so before winter).
  • Replacing dull or damaged blades on mowers.
  • Setting pick-up height on belt rakes, tedders, and balers.
  • Repairing or replacing bent or otherwise damaged tines on balers, rakes, and tedders.
  • Checking belts for cracks.
  • Checking baler hoses for cracks and leaks.
  • Threading net wrap or twine and inspecting the mechanism.

Tedding Cheat Sheet

In what situations is tedding needed?
 
  • To spread and fluff the hay soon after cutting. This allows for better air circulation and more exposure to sunlight. Most small hay mowers will lay the hay down flat like toppled dominoes. This does not create optimal drying conditions. Most drum mowers also pile the hay in rows, meaning air and sunlight can’t reach the bottom of the pile.
  • After a heavy rain. When it rains enough to saturate all the way through the cut hay, you will need to wait for a period of time to let the sun dry out the top of the hay, and then take a tedder through the field to flip the hay over so the underside can get dry.
  • In areas that receive less sun or breeze. You may find that the middle of a field is dry and ready to bale, while the edges and areas in alcoves are not. This is due to the reduced sun and airflow in these areas. In these cases you don’t need to ted the whole field, just the areas that need a little extra “help”.
  • In cooler, more humid, and cloudy weather. In this situation, you may find that hay near the ground will just not get dry without some help.
When should I ted?
 
  • Soon after cutting.
  • In the morning while there is still some dew on the ground. Dewy conditions will soften leaves that are already dry, reducing leaf loss when tedding.
  • A few dry hours after a rain.
Again, you should only use a tedder when the hay won’t be able to get dry on its own. Overuse of the tedder will lead to stemmy, low quality hay.

Raking Cheat Sheet

  • Rake when hay passes the “Twist Test” – give several samples the quick “twist test” to see how the stems break. If the stems break easily, the hay is cured. If the stems bend, it is not cured.
  • Don’t wait until hay is too dry – avoid raking clover and alfalfa when moisture levels are less than 35-40%.
  • Generally, raking should be done late morning – once the dew has dried and the sun is near its peak.
  • Wait 2 hours after raking to bale – this prevents the dew’s moisture from being tossed to the underside of the windrow and gives the newly turned underside enough sun exposure to dry before baling

Raking Patern Diagram

Hay Day Checklist

Before Heading to the Field

  • Baling days are typically hot days, so dress in lightweight, light-colored clothing. If you’re collecting bales by hand, long sleeves, long pants, and lightweight gloves are recommended for protecting your arms, legs, and hands from cuts and scratches. Be sure to bring along a large water jug so you can stay hydrated.
  • Consider a hat that shades your face, ears, and neck from the sun. Put on sunscreen.
  • Pack a tool kit with spare parts to take to the field with you. This will save time during any breakdowns. Include tines, shear bolts, and the tools needed to make repairs.
  • Build an extra day into your schedule if possible in case of poor drying conditions or other unforeseen issues.

When You First Reach the Field

  • Check the moisture levels of your hay one last time. Hay that is too moist when baled can mold. You can do this by use of a moisture probe or by giving it a quick “twist test”. This test is performed by simply grab a fistful of hay and twis it with a circular motion. If most of the stems break easily, the hay is cured. If they bend, it is not.
  • Check the size and density of your windrows. Consistent windrows lead to uniform bales. The largest windrows the baler can handle will allow the baler to perform more efficiently and also minimize leaf loss.
  • Ensure that the baler’s tines are about 1” off the ground. This reduces dirt contamination of the baled hay and reduces baler wear and tear since stones aren’t as likely to be picked up. If you are unsure of how to adjust the height of the tines, refer to your manual for guidance.
  • Plan your route. Before you take off, consider the best route that will minimize tight turns, backing up, and running over windrows. Oftentimes starting around the outside edges of the field will give you more room to turn around at the end of the rows later in the baling process.

As You Begin Baling

  • Expect the need to tweak the baler settings during the first few minutes of baling, especially the first time out in the field each season. Every hay crop is different, and the baler will need to be adjusted accordingly. In addition, during the course of the day hay conditions can change, so further adjustments may be needed.
  • Adjust your driving speed to match the baler pickup speed. A properly fed baler will reduce the time it takes to bale while improving bale quality and consistency. Also note that larger windrows will require slower driving speeds. The baler should be pulling the hay off of the ground. If hay is piling up in front of the baler, you are driving too fast. Eventually this can lead to a jam in the pickup, which can be a time-consuming, dusty, profanity-inducing fix. Overfeeding and jams can also cause undue wear on belts and slip clutches, as well as broken shear bolts.
  • Get off the tractor after the first few bales and check bale density and shape. Also check to see if net wrap or twine is wrapping or tying correctly. Doing this will lead to bales that preserve better and retain quality. Round bales that are properly wrapped and of optimum density will be better protected from weather and easier to transport and store. Properly tied square bales can be easily handled without fear of twine coming off, and will stack more tightly in the barn.

At the End of the Day

  • Always clean up your baler when you’re finished baling. Remove any hay in the bale chamber. Check to make sure the pickup is clear and nothing is wound around the tine bars.
  • Use compressed air, not water, to clean the gears, chain, and other moving parts.
  • Lubricate chains as necessary with an appropriate chain lube. Hit all grease zerks–fittings through which grease can be inserted.
  • Store the baler in a dry environment. Doing this will not only ensure the baler is ready to go the next time you want to use it, it will also reduce the opportunity for rust to form on unpainted parts, prolonging the life of your baler and ensuring peak performance.
  • For end-of-season tips for storage, refer to Chapter 27 on winterizing your hay equipment.

Parts and Supplies Checklist

Parts And Supplies

All Implements

  • Lubricants
  • Gear oil for all gearboxes (check manuals for correct type)
  • Chain lube
  • Hydraulic oil
  • Grease and grease gun
  • Penetrating oil such as WD-40
  • Thread locker
  • Shear bolts
  • Touch-up paint

Square Baler

  • Twine
  • Pickup tines
  • Pickup drive belt
  • Shear bolts

Mini Round Baler

  • Twine or net wrap
  • Pickup tines
  • Net drive belt (net baler)
  • Shear bolts
  • Friction discs for pickup

Sickle Bar Mower

  • Replacement cutterbar
  • Individual mower sections and associated rivets
  • Section guards
  • Section head bushing

Disc Mower

  • Blades
  • Blade nuts and bolts
  • Drive belts
  • Curtain

Drum Mower

  • Blades
  • Blade bolts (some models)
  • Curtain

Tedder:

  • Tines

Wheel Rake

  • Literally None

Belt Rake

  • Drive belt
  • Tines

Tools to Have On-Hand (on the Tractor If Possible)

  • Assorted wrenches and/or adjustable wrench
  • Utility knife
  • Pliers
  • Standard and Phillips screwdrivers
  • Multitool

Additional Tools for the Shop

  • Air compressor with tire chuck and blower
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Allen wrenches
  • Socket set
  • Dead blow mallet
  • Jack and jack stands
  • Chains and/or heavy straps
  • Tape measure
  • Locking pliers
  • Claw hammer
  • Of course, Safety gear!

In-Season Equipment Maintenance Checklist

Mower

  • Check blades for damage or dullness--replace as necessary
  • Make sure any blade bolts are tight
  • Blow off--wet grasses contain moisture which can cause rust
  • Lubricate

Tedder

  • Check tines for damage--replace as necessary
  • Blow off especially if used to spread wet hay
  • Lubricate
  • Check tire pressure

Rake

  • Check belts for tightness or damage--replace or adjust as necessary
  • Check tines for damage--replace as necessary
  • Blow off especially if used to rake wet hay
  • Lubricate
  • Check tire pressure

Mini Round Baler

  • Check net mechanism--replace roll if necessary
  • Add twine as needed and tie end to existing roll
  • Check all belts and chains for tightness or damage--replace or adjust as necessary
  • Blow out pickup and inner chamber
  • Lubricate
  • Check tire pressure
  • Test rear door hydraulics
  • Check pickup for tangled hay or pieces of twine
  • Reset bale counter

Square Baler

  • Check twine mechanism--add rolls if necessary and tie to existing rolls
  • Check all belts and chains for tightness or damage--replace or adjust as necessary
  • Blow out pickup and inner chamber
  • Lubricate
  • Check tire pressure
  • Reset bale counter
  • Check pickup for tangled hay or pieces of twine
  • Activate PTO at idle speed and inspect shear bolts and timing

Winterizing Checklist

Common Tasks for All Implements

  • Clean off debris. Sweep away crop residue from your equipment. Mice love to nest in grass clippings and the like and are destructive to your equipment. Their droppings will promote corrosion. Remove guards and clean out everything, preferably with compressed air. If you use water, make sure you do not spray directly on bearings and seals, and be certain everything has a chance to fully dry out before storing.
  • Grease the bearings. Where there are grease zerks, use a grease gun and pump grease in until you start to see it being forced out of the joints. If the bearing is packed full of grease, then there is no room for moisture to collect.
  • Grease the PTO drivelines. Be sure to take the shaft apart and put grease inside the telescoping shaft so it stays lubricated. The plastic outer guards usually have one of more grease points on each end. Grease the universal joints on both ends.
  • Change the oil in the gearboxes. Do this just after running the implement, when the oil is still warm and fully mixed. Warm oil will carry away moisture and particles better than cold oil.
  • Cover any bare metal with a coat of grease or suitable rust preventative. The grease will stay put and protect the surface for a long time. Vegetable based shortening is an alternative for protecting surfaces that will come into contact with feed or hay.
  • Non-moving surfaces of exposed bare metal should be painted in lieu of greasing to prevent rust. Clean the surface thoroughly before painting.

Square Baler

  • Clean out the bale chamber so it does not rust where the bale contacts the steel.
  • Clean the area around the knotter so the hay dust does not hold moisture and create an environment friendly to mice.
  • Remove the bolt that holds the knotter down and raise the knotter up. Coat the bill hook and anything else not painted with grease or oil.
  • Oil the drive chains.
  • Check the condition of the pickup belt and replace if worn or damaged.
  • Under the knotter there is a knife to cut the twine. Coat the knife edge with grease or oil to keep it from rusting.
  • Grease the bearings and universal joints per the owner’s manual.
  • Put new twine in the twine box and thread the twine so the baler is ready to tie.

Round Baler

  • Take the covers off and sweep or blow away the debris.
  • Grease the bearings and universal joints per the owner’s manual.
  • Oil the drive chains.
  • Twine wrap balers have a common razor blade to cut the twine. Coat this with grease or oil to preserve the edge from rust or replace the blade if it has become dull.
  • Check your stock of netting or twine and restock as needed.

Sickle Bar Mower

  • Clean the cutter bar and coat with grease to prevent rust on the cutter knives.
  • Check the condition of the drive belts and replace worn or damaged belts.
  • Check that all nuts and bolts are tight and tighten as necessary.
  • Replace the gearbox oil.
  • Grease all grease points per the owner’s manual.
  • Check that the machine is well secured if stored in the upright position. To prevent injury, tie the top of the cutter bar off to a wall or pole to keep it from falling over, and place the guard on the cutterbar.

Disc Mower

  • Turn the blade holders (turtles) by hand to check that the machine turns freely.
  • Check the condition of the drive belts and replace worn or damaged belts.
  • Inspect the blades and replace them as sets if needed.
  • While the blade holder bolts are off, inspect them for wear also.
  • Check the curtain for small rips or tears and repair before they become larger.
  • Replace the gearbox and cutterbar oils.
  • Grease all grease points per the owner’s manual.
  • Do not store the cutterbar in the vertical position. Some disc mowers have breather plugs on the cutterbar and can leak over time if left vertical.

Drum Mower

  • Check the blades and replace if needed. Always replace in full sets to maintain the balance of the drums. If blades are only dull on one edge, switch the blades from left to right drum and vice versa.
  • Check the curtain for small rips or tears and repair before they become larger.
  • Replace the gearbox oils.
  • Grease all grease points per the owner’s manual.

Rakes

  • Thoroughly clean and remove dust and debris.
  • Grease all grease points per the owner’s manual.
  • Check for broken and bent tines and replace as needed.
  • For PTO driven rakes, check the condition of the drive belts and replace worn or damaged belts.

Hay Calculator sheet