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.

Scott Barbour, farming in partnership with his father, Robert and brother, Graham: 600 cow suckler finishing enterprise, Jedburgh

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.

Wanda Tilson, Gordon, Berwickshire 220 cow Wedderlie pedigree Aberdeen Angus herd

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.

Neil Simcock, Dale Farming Shropshire unit manager: 460 cow autumn calving herd

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.

Luke Brignall, Sledmere Estate, East Yorkshire: 3,000-acre mixed unit, cereals and potatoes, 600 Red Deer, 600 sheep, and 110 cattle

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.

Geoffrey Rodgers, Ballynahinch, County Down: 30-cow pedigree mixed Continental cows, 85 suckler cows

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.

Bret Marshall, JB Farming, Upminster: rearing 400 head beef cattle annually

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.

Josh Wilson, Parkinson Partners, Atherstone: 200 dairy cows, 600 beef cattle

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.

Andrew Tucker, Farm Manager, Bradford-on-Avon: 250 head beef inc 100 suckler cows

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

Joanne Pile, Bradford-on-Avon: 500 head calf rearing unit

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

Laurence Owen, Churchstoke: 170 suckler cows plus finishers.

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.

John Cameron, farm manager, Woodpark Farm, The University of Liverpool School of Veterinary Science; 220 cow


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