How to make hay with a small square baler

Written by randal thomas
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How to make hay with a small square baler
You can make small square bales for your low-volume hay barn. (hay image by Bobi from

Incorrectly baling hay can cause loose bales, but it can also create potentially dangerous situations as hay runners grab the hay off the bailer and stack it on the truck running parallel to the tractor and bailer. Correctly baling hay using a small, square bailer allows you to efficiently form bales of the right size and weight while your team packs them on the hay trailer.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Attach the small square hay bailer to the tractor hitch, securing the tail light electrical rigging and locking the hitch into place.

  2. 2

    Pull the tractor over a row of dried grass and straw, centring the square hay bailer's grass scoop in front of the dried grass and straw.

  3. 3

    Load the twine cases with two rolls of twine, setting the twine along the metal spindles and threading the twine up through the thread feed channel. Make sure you clear the thread feed channels of any obstructions like debris from previous usages or torn bits of twine.

  4. 4

    Secure each thread in its own twine prong that grip the twine and tie the grass and bale the resulting "hay."

  5. 5

    Turn on the hay bailer.

  6. 6

    Drive the tractor at about five miles per hour (mph) for a distance of 20 to 30 yards, allowing the bailer to scoop the grass and make the first preliminary bales.

  7. 7

    Adjust the grass load speed such that the grass loads for enough time, piling up and compacting sufficiently to form a full bale before the wrapper ties the twine. The grass load speed varies depending on the actual amount of cut grass, so the driver must visually monitor the rows of cut grass and adjust the grass load speed as he drives.

  8. 8

    Examine the first several bales, checking their weight for ideal density and twine tightness. Ideal density differs but generally should approach 15.9 to 22.7 Kilogram and match the type of grass. Small patches of semi-dried grasses, such as alfalfa or fescue, can weigh a lot, so you might need to decrease the grass-load speed.

  9. 9

    Drive for another 50 or 60 yards, or as long as necessary to form 10 to 12 bales. These bales should be tight and compact.

Tips and warnings

  • If you rent a small square hay bailer, the twine comes pre-loaded, but if you own your own equipment, you simply need to ensure the twine rests free of obstruction in the feed channels. The twine prongs will work automatically, tying the hay and pulling the twine from each roll.
  • The field supervisor must continuously monitor the weight and tightness of the bales, noting "thumbs up" if the grass load speed needs to increase or "thumbs down" if the driver needs to decrease grass load speed. The process requires teamwork that increases in efficiency with experience.

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