Profile: Bale Baron

Forget the back breaking thankless task of manually picking up and stacking bales of hay. The Bale Baron machine racks and stacks with ease.

The Bale Baron in hilly work on the Jones Hay farm

When you aim to be the biggest grass feed supply business in New Zealand, you also need to be the most efficient.

Jones Hay is based in Awanui, Northland, and a key part of its business is creating and managing a high volume of hay bales.

Last season, Jones Hay made 60,000 conventional hay bales of various varieties. This year, he’s aiming for 100,000.

Picking up 100,000 small bales is one huge labour and health and safety problem. However, thanks to modern innovation and technology, it’s a problem that Jones Hay solved with a Bale Baron machine.

Manufactured in Canada, by a company called Marcrest, the Bale Baron bale accumulator is designed to be towed behind a tractor. It then scoops the conventional bales out of a paddock and ties them into one big brick of nine, 18 or 21 bales.

Adding to the high-volume capacity, Jones Hay has grabs that can pick up two of these bricks together. That mean, it has the capacity to load 42 bales onto a truck in one action – a massive saver of both time and labour.

Johnnie Jones – the man behind Jones Hay

Owned by Johnnie Jones, Jones Hay has a reputation for quality products and service.

Operations and sales manager Waiata Hewitt says the decision to invest in a new Bale Baron 4245P new last October has paid off.

“We needed to speed up the operation as much as possible. The Bale Baron allows us to bale on a finer weather line, as we can load up and shed the hay in a fraction of the time,” Waiata says.

It also speeds up loading hay for clients. Jones Hay sells hay behind the baler and out of the shed all year round. About 90% of their clients are on lifestyle blocks or have horses.

“For the elderly or those who can’t load themselves, having the bricks of bales is so much easier. We can put a brick of 18 bales from the Bale Baron onto a trailer in a minute, or one person can load up a truck with more than 300 bales in under an hour.”

Jones Hay has its Bale Baron set to make bricks of 18 bales.

The latest model 5250P (owned by Searle Contracting) working near Christchurch on lucerne hay

“We decided to do 18s because they fit better in the shed for stacking. A brick of 18 also sits perfectly on a single axle trailer or can be slid into a horse float. They also stack on large trucks better.”

It’s easy to change the number of bales in a brick using the Bale Baron’s computerised control system.

When Jones Hay sells hay out of the shed over winter, they take the top grapple off the loader and handle one brick at a time.

Once the hay season starts, they mostly sell out of the paddock. With no roof to contend with, they can go back to moving two bricks at a time.

The Jones Hay operation is spread over about 700 acres, on farms, in close proximity to each other. The home farm borders on the famous Ninety Mile Beach, which is roughly 87km of beautiful coastline.

Stacking one of the Jones Hay barns, the bricks making it a breeze

Waiata says, from her office at their main yard, she can see both the west and east coastlines across the isthmus. It’s a beautiful farm, but it has its challenges, mainly the rolling hills.

In ideal conditions, Bale Baron can keep pace with two balers. If the Jones Hay farms were flat, it could collect bales behind them.

Instead, when they are baling on the hills, a sweeper tractor brings bales down to the flat for the Bale Baron to bundle up.

“This doesn’t mean the Baron can’t handle the slopes. We still manage to do our gentler hills with our experienced drivers,” Waiata says.

Marcrest says that Bale Baron can bundle 1000 bales per hour in ideal conditions. Those numbers aren’t however achievable on hilly terrain.

“On big, flat paddocks, we would be flying, but with the hills, it’s a bit slower. We can gather about 300 per hour or more.”

Jones Hay used a 125-hp John Deere tractor to tow the Bale Baron this past season. The season coming, they are going to trial a bigger tractor towing the baler and Baron together in tandem with a receiving platform.

Waiata says it’s important to produce bales exactly 90cm long. To do so, they use Massey Ferguson 1840 in-line balers.

“They work like a dream. If the bales are too long or too short, then the Baron may jam or not work properly. I also like the uniformity of the bales for shed stacking.”

The Bale Baron secures its bricks of bales with four rows of twine.

“We use the specific stronger twine for the Bale Baron.”

Bale Baron 5250P popping out 21 bale brick tight packs of lucerne

Jones Hay is also a contracting firm. They make baleage and hay in all sizes for farmers/lifestyle blocks. Waiata’s drivers originally had some concerns about towing the Bale Baron on the road and over the hilly farm.

“We thought because of its size, it would be clunky to move around, but it’s not at all. All the drivers say it’s an easy machine to manoeuvre and operate once they were familiar with it.”

The Bale Baron was provided by NC Equipment in Canterbury, and Waiata says she’s impressed with the service they’ve provided.

NC Equipment technicians came up when the machine was delivered and ran through it all with the Jones Hay mechanic.

Waiata keeps a store of spare parts because they are so far away from a major centre. NC Equipment provided all the basic wear parts, and if anything else is required, it can be sent to them on the overnight courier.

“Considering we’re so far away, that has been very good,” she says.

“It has sped up our operation exponentially. We don’t know what we did without it. It’s one of the best pieces of machinery we’ve ever used.”

As the business expands, Waiata will get another; only this time the self-propelled version.

“We will absolutely get another. We couldn’t be happier.”

Canadian company Marcrest offers three ranges of its popular Bale Baron small bale accumulators: the 5000 Series, the 4000 Series, and the 6240 self-propelled Baron.

Available in New Zealand through NC Equipment, the latest Bale Baron 5250 model features a number of impressive upgrades that are designed to improve productivity and serviceability while maintaining the outstanding reliability that the brand is well known for.

Both the 5250 and the 4250 units are available in the P (pickup) and T (trailed) models. The 5250 has a hydraulic requirement of 150 litres per minute while the 4250 requires 115 litres per minute, although, both can be run with a minimum of 80 litres and 95 litres for the 4000 and 5000 Series.

The 6240 self-propelled Bale Baron takes small baling to a whole new level with packing capacity up to 1100 bales per hour.

Based on the same innovative design concept as the pull-type model, it offers superior manoeuvrability and comfort with its 4WD system, variable speed transmission, 48km/h road speed, and air ride suspension.

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