If you’re wondering how to rent a small hay baler, look no further. This post has everything you need to know for a successful season.
What You'll Learn Today
What Equipment Do I Need to Make Hay?
Although you can certainly cut, rake, and bale hay by hand, it is far easier to use mechanized equipment that will take some of the physicality out of the farm chore (though certainly not all).
If you own a farm with a compact tractor, you’re in luck. This is the most important piece of equipment to invest in, since all of the other equipment necessary to make hay, including rented hay balers, require a tractor.
You will also need a hay mower. There are three main types of mowers – drum, disc, and sickle bar mowers. Of these, sickle bar mowers are the oldest, first designed to be pulled by horses. They’re great for smaller tractors that are lightweight or have low horsepower.
Disc mowers, on the other hand, are less likely to clog and offer high cutting speeds. However, they do require a tractor with hydraulics. Drum mowers are extremely common in Europe and are only just starting to become popular in the United States.
These have no hydraulic requirements and while they are heavy,requiring heavier tractors to pull them, they offer reduced power consumption and more durability.
You will also need a hay tedder, which is meant to dry out hay before it is baled, and a hay rake, which windrows it. There are several types of hay rakes you can buy, too, including rotary, belt, wheel, and parallel bar rakes.
Of course, you will also need a hay baler. More on this below!
Types of Hay Balers
A hay baler is another important piece of equipment you will need if you are going to bale your own hay. A hay baler will gather the loose hay into a solid, compact bundle that you can then store in your barn or anywhere else on your farm.
There are a few types of hay balers you can buy. Choosing the right one will depend on your needs on the farm (How many animals are you providing feed for? Where will you store the bales? How big is your tractor?) as well as your budget.
What is the Smallest Hay Baler?
There are two general categories of hay balers – square balers and round balers.
Square balers were the first types of baling machines to come onto the scene. These were originally stationary machines and evolved into the machines we know today. They require less horsepower to operate than round balers.
Most square balers require around 35 horsepower, though there are smaller square balers on the market that weigh as little as 2000 pounds and require just 16 horsepower.
A round baler can produce bales of up to 48 to 72 inches wide and requires anywhere from 65 to 125 HP to operate. There are more advanced pieces of machinery that can wrap bales for you, too.
A mini round baler is another option. Also known as a roto-baler, this kind of machine produces a bale that weighs around 40 to 50 pounds and can be lifted by one person. It can connect to a smaller horsepower tractor. Because they allow you to produce larger bales that can feed more animals at a time yet don’t require a large tractor, they offer the best of both worlds.
Round Bales vs Square Bales
Before deciding what kind of hay baler to rent or buy, you will need to first consider whether you want to produce square or round bales.
The good news is that the shape of the bale doesn’t influence the nutritional value of the hay, nor will it impact how long it lasts. Most people use round bales for feeding large groups of animals. This can reduce how much time needs to be spent on daily feeding chores.
Here is a video that will show you how a square baler works:
Round bales feed more animals at once but do require the use of a tractor to move. They are extremely heavy, with most coming in at 400 to 1700 lbs. As you might expect, you’ll need heavy, more durable equipment to move round bales while square bales can easily be produced and moved by hand.
Where to Rent a Hay Baler?
Hay balers can be expensive. Even a small square baler can cost up to $2,500, depending on where you are located, what time of year the baler is purchased, and the condition it is in. a round baler will easily exceed $3,000 (even used machines are expensive).
Fortunately, you can rent instead of buy. There are a few ways you can do this.
One is to rent a machine from a friend or neighbor who owns haying equipment. You could pay a daily rate for the use of the baler, or a per-bale rate. Of course, it will be on you to pay for upkeep and twine (or other wrapping materials). You could also hire that farmer to bale the hay for you rather than using his equipment – though of course, you’ll need to pay a bit more.
Often, you can rent a used baler from a dealer, too. They typically charge around $3 a bale plus the cost of twine or net wrap. The dealer assumes the costs of any repairs. The cost of the rental will depend on the individual dealer and the condition of the baler.
Farm supply stores occasionally rent balers as well, especially in agricultural towns and villages.
How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Hay Baler?
The cost of renting a hay baler will vary depending on where you rent from and what kind of machine you’re renting. You can expect to pay around $2 to $8 per bale depending on the location, the type of machine, and what sort of arrangement you have with the renter.
Depending on how many bales you need to produce, plus how often you plan on haying, it might make just as much sense for you to buy a used hay baler for your farm.
Of course, you’ll need to crunch the numbers to decide whether this is a good option for you.