We are making 75% time and 25% straw savings every day, 365 since investing in a Midi Spread-a- Bale.
We’re using the Midi to bed up the loose housing for dry and freshly calved cows each day, all year round.
It used to take two men one hour to shake out 10 bales every day with a fork.
The Midi has reduced the straw required to eight bales taking just 30 minutes in total to spread.
Apart from making the straw go further, the machine leaves a fluffier bed.
We’ve just upgraded our the-year-old Midi to a Midi XL HD for ease of spreading, more power and greater efficiency.
We’ve found the new machine can cut spreading time to just 20 seconds per bale.
Introducing a Midi Spread-a-Bale has halved the labour required to bed up daily, says Nick Hodgson who together with his father, John annually finishes 600 strong stores in a Roundhouse, based near Darlington, Co Durham.
“Straw spreading was a two-man operation. We used to roll out by hand three round bales a day, virtually every day of the year, between the eight pens. Nowadays I do the job myself. The Midi is simple to use, in fact it’s a piece of cake,” he says after investing in the machine less than six months ago from AgriSource.
“We’d seen Spread-a-Bale for years, but finally decided to buy, save time, make life easier and safer too. I no longer have to get into the pens with the beasts which seem to be getting wilder. It doesn’t break up the straw so it leaves a firm bed which stays drier and makes mucking out easier.
“While we were initially concerned any flyer stones would travel vertically and damage the Roundhouse’s synthetic roof, we’ve found they always fly out horizontally,” he says. “We’re also set to be more efficient bale handling this coming harvest since we no longer need round bales, they’ll all be rectangular, quicker to lead in and requiring less storage.”
“Our Spread-a-Bale has proved to be a great time saving piece of kit at one of the busiest times of year,” says Richard who farms a 1,500-ewe flock near Wigton, Cumbria with his parents, William and Pamela, and with help from sister, Joanne.
“While the pure Swaledales lamb outside, we house the other half of the flock for six weeks prior to lambing in a 220’ x 65’ shed with central passage and firmly believe in operating a high health and welfare unit,” Richard explains. “We routinely bed up every other day to keep the beds clean and dry and used to put a couple of straw flakes at a time in a barrow, wheel round the pens and shake out with a fork.
“The job was taking an hour to spread one rectangular bale and we were aware we were skimping a bit on straw. We’d first seen Spread-a-Bale in the farming press and at agricultural shows and once we had spoken to a couple people that were happy with theirs, we took the plunge to buy one,” he explains.
“We’ve found Spread-a-Bale is a very simple machine, it fits easily on the Merlo both front and side mounted, we can take it on and off within seconds, it doesn’t tie up another tractor, and we can load a bale straight from the stack in the shed.
“The biggest benefit is time saving, literally five minutes to go driving around the pens spreading. There’s minimum dust, and while we may be using a bit more straw, the job is so much easier, the pens are cleaner, and it leaves a nice bed for the sheep.”
The Midi is proving to be equally useful when it comes to daily bedding up the Ridley’s 100 cow suckler herd and followers during the housing period. “It was taking us over an hour every day to bed up the five sheds by hand. Spread-a-Bale has reduced that spreading time to just 10 minutes, leaving us with more time in the day to get on with other more valuable jobs.”
Our Spread-a-Bale Midi is a good piece of kit, and one we wouldn’t be without. It’s cut straw usage by up to one third and made savings sufficient for the system to pay for itself in less than one year We overwinter 1,800 head of cattle on four different farms, and we’re using over 4,000 rectangular bales throughout a year. Until 12 years ago we used to spread the straw with a front-end fork lift and it used to take all day, three times a week. Nowadays, straw spreading time has been reduced to approximately 16 hours a week, that’s a considerable labour saving. We are also making straw savings of between 25% and 30% thanks to the machine’s spreading rotors. The alternative mechanisation would have been a chopper blower, however we don’t like chopping straw, it makes a mess. We like to keep things tidy. Compared to a straw chopper, Spread-a-Bale generates minimal dust; the straw comes out of the machine, lands on ground without being blown into the rafters and accumulating outside the shed providing an opportunity for vermin. Minimal dust also makes for all round better animal welfare.
We’re using Spread-a-Bale to bed up 15 rectangular bales twice a week. We like the machine because unlike trailed choppers which are too messy, Spread-a-Bale literally spreads the straw so there’s minimal dust, which is better for animal welfare and the straw goes further. We have a lot of visitors to see the cattle and we like to keep things tidy.
Being self-loading from the stack, it requires just one machine – our Kramer telehandler. And the cattle seem to like it too, the bulls come and stand under the machine while it’s spreading.
We used to roll out round straw bales – it was such a laborious job. Spread-a-Bale was our first port of call when we started to look to going down the mechanical route. Since we invested, it’s proved to be reliable. We’ve upgraded two times and have just taken delivery of a Midi HD from ScotAgri who give us very good back up. We’re finding the added HD option designed for high density bales, is providing a lot more power.
Twelve months ago, we invested in a Spread-a-Bale Midi Lite, the most suitable machine for our JCB 1t loader, and its proved to be a no brainer – it’s going to easily pay for itself within two years. In fact, this machine is one of the best investments we’ve ever made.
Last winter, the machine helped us to make 30% straw savings – we needed 100 fewer bales, amounting to 50t less straw which worked out at over £7,000 in cost savings.
On top of that is massive labour saving. It used to take two men spending a total of 12 hours each week to bed up the youngstock. Nowadays it’s taking one man approximately one hour a week.
Spread-a-Bale does the job of up to three men during winter while reducing straw requirements by over 60%.
Before we got our machine, the cattle and deer used 38 quadrant bales of straw a week. We’ve reduced that amount by 15 bales with a value close to £400 per week. In fact, when we were first introduced to Spread-a-Bale by our local dealer, Wilfred Scruton Ltd, we took it on demo, and it never left the Estate.
The machine has also enabled us to reduce waste from bales that need to be stacked outside – last year we made use of 80 bales as bedding that would have otherwise been destroyed due to being too wet from the top of the stack. Spread-a-Bale makes light work of these poor-quality bales, either in the shed as bedding, or spreading onto the muck pad with a value of around £1,500.
There are also clear health and safety, and efficiency benefits; booming the machine over the gates means no need to get amongst the deer and sheep with a machine that can be operated by just one worker, whilst at lambing time our shepherd can split one bale between multiple sheds, keeping the bedding fresh and reducing waste.
Spread-a-Bale’s running costs are minute; we have a 2014 model with its original blades, and after spreading over 6,500 bales the only replacements have been one belt and two bearings.
Our Spread-a-Bale is one of those pieces of kit I wouldn’t be without. Bedding up time has been reduced over our six-month winter from two hours to 20 minutes a day – a massive labour saving that’s enabled the machine to pay for itself within two years. Added to that, we’re making 30% straw savings worth up to £80 a week.
The machine is reliable and makes for a safer environment. I no longer have to get in the pens to manually shake out the straw with a fork. And unlike other machines that shred straw, it creates minimal dust and the risk of flying stones has been eliminated.
We’ve just bought a Maxi Spread-a-Bale and it’s proving to be super-efficient; a great investment. It’s saving a lot of time and we can now do other jobs – it used to take us half a day to bed up 20 Heston’s by hand whereas now we’re spreading 8 -10 though in 30 minutes.
We invested in a Maxi Spread-a-Bale four years ago; it’s a good bit of kit. It would be taking me most of the day to bed up 600 head of beef cattle plus a further 200 dairy cows, whereas nowadays it’s taking us just under two hours a day to spread 14 Heston bales; and we’re working in some tight spaces which I don’t think other machines could manoeuvre around.
We’re bedding up three times a week and we used to manually roll out four bales each time. Since we invested in Spread-a-Bale it’s saving us a lot of effort and time – up to 90 minutes each time we bed up. It’s also made the job a lot safer since we no longer have to get in with the stock.
Since we swapped spreading straw manually for a Spread-a-Bale, the machine is saving us a lot of time – up to three hours a day.
Spread-a-Bale creates a nice deep bed for the calves and they love getting under it. The machine doesn’t chop the straw so there’s minimal dust during spreading which makes for better health and welfare, and another bonus – no flying stones or missiles
Spread-a-Bale is absolutely brilliant.
We had a machine on demonstration back in 2005, and we never gave it back; whilst the investment seems a lot of money at the time, it’s the best thing I’ve ever bought – the payback has been tremendous in terms of saving straw and time.
We’ve still got that same machine, it’s been in continual operation during the housing period, and it still works like new. We have a miscellany of accommodation in various shapes, sizes and locations, and it ducks and dives from tight calving pens to full telescopic use in the finishing sheds.
Also, we’re contractors as well as farmers and we like to keep a minimum number of passes around the yard. Being self-loading from the stack, Spread-a-Bale helps towards our goal
I’ve used a number of straw bedding machines over more years than I care to remember and have always disliked the amount of dust produced during spreading and even less appreciated unblocking them on a regular basis.
We have a number of straw yards with less than ideal designs, and have a high standard of bedding being a university farm which in turn means a significant amount of straw is used annually. The straw bill for 2018 was around £30,000 which is about twice the average spend for this size of farm based on Promar costings.
Using Spread-a-Bale, we have halved our straw useage, which means that the machine will have paid for itself in 12 months. It’s easy to use and rarely blocks, but its rotors and bed can be put in to reverse if its does, and it leaves a fluffy bed for the animals to nest in.