Scannell 2 and 5 bale feeders

Jaiden Drought tested out some tough mainland machinery and he was not disappointed by Scannell’s two and five bale feeders.

On a recent trip to Mid-Canterbury I was introduced to the locals way of travelling between jobs, where taking the more conventional roads was considered to be ‘Auckland like’. Instead we crossed rivers, back tracks and what appeared to be farmers paddocks who had unsuspectingly left the gates open. Crumpy would have been proud of us and it was just as well we were in a Toyota. All the same, we were there and back in one piece, so I guess the desired result was achieved.

Due to recent budget cutting on the count of the economy, this article will cover two machines instead of one – BJ Scarlett’s Scannell two and five bale feeders. To simplify it for you I will split the article into two sections – one for the five bale feeder and one for the two bale feeder.


Five bale feeder

Over the years I have used a lot of multi- feeders that you can feed multiple bales in, but never a specific bale feeder used for this sole purpose until now. Scannell’s five bale feeder in particular is targeted (but not solely) towards dry stock farmers who usually make hay bales or tube wrap silage for winter feeding rather than pit silage. Having said that, in the south island where run-off blocks are used more for supplements, carting bales on trucks is usually a more cost effective way of carting food home over fine chop so they certainly have their place in the cow cockies arsenal as well.

So the machines’ capacity is five bales – one on the table, four on the tray and I reckon you could have a cheeky one on the loading forks and one or two on the tractor forks (if fitted) too, which potentially gives you eight bales in one load, which is sure to make feeding out a once-a-week event resulting in more time spent by the fire when the snow starts falling. That alone is a reason to buy one.

These machines need to be robust and reliable which usually equates to having few moving parts, and initial build strength usually gets around most of these issues. In particular, the five bale feeder is quite hard as all the strength has to be in the chassis as the loading forks stick out one side, right at the rear of the machine which only encourages the whole thing to twist. No real support is added by the cradle as this merely provides a guide for the bales as they make their way forward to the bale shredder. There is no drama here for the Scannell as I’ve tested the 12m3 universal feeder which was built tough to handle up to 15m3 of silage. Using the same chassis principals at the universal feeder, the five bale feeder has the same heavy duty hub assembly, hub shields to protect from netwrap and other foreign objects and bronze pivot bushes for greater wear characteristics. Additionally the front wheel is offset forward on the walking beam reducing the risk of sledging in muddy conditions.


Feeding ability

During the test we fed some tube wrapped silage bales to a herd of dairy cows and it only took a bale or two to get a feel for the machine. It honestly doesn’t get much simpler than this; some loading forks, a half round tub and a feeder – that pretty much cut out the spec sheet, but it isn’t until you use the machine you appreciate the subtle ideas that the BJ Scarlett team have incorporated into the machine to ensure it’s simple, yet incredibly durable. The rear loading forks are an excellent example of this. The forks hang all the way out the back, with all their weight to one side, so sooner or later you’d expect the machine to twist out of line. However, the double chassis runners allow the forks to have a low centre of gravity and a short arc onto the table so all the weight of the bale is quickly transferred to the tub rather than creating the side strain on the machine.

For me, the best feature of the machine functionality-wise are the variable speed shredders (one is lower and slower than the other), which allows you to feed the bulk of the bale out on one side and the core on the slower side, so it avoids throw the whole thing over the side. Alternatively you can feed the bulk out slowly and the core fast – whatever is your preference.

Flared guards under the shredders guide the feed out from the machine to ensure it doesn’t fall straight down to be run over by the wheels.

The diverter lever is one feature that’s been part of the machine’s design for years, but one I found uncomfortable to use from in the cab as it was hard to reach. The lever is mounted above the drawbar which was located there for older tractors with only two external scv’s to divert the oil from the rear forks to the shredder. To be fair there is the option to have this as another set of hoses as most tractors come with 3 SCV’s nowadays or to have this on an electric diverter box in the cab.


Five-bale features

  • Double shredder design allows feeding either side with a patented clever feature where the left side is lower and travelling 20% faster than the right side, giving two different feed patterns
  • Finishes cores quickly without wedging but the different speeds on the individual shredders gives you an option
  • Heavy-duty hub assemblies with hub shields to protect seals from hay netwrap and twine
  • Folded plate tandem axles with high tensile bronze pivot bushes.
  • Walking beam pivot is offset so that the front tyres carry less weight for better turning and less sledging in muddy conditions
  • Full metal floor stops feed wrapping around shafts
  • Full metal feed floor also protects shafts
  • 2″ Heavy duty zinc plated floor chain with 40×40 ‘Duragalv’ bars
  • Robust 150x75x5mm RHS chassis rails with 100x75x5mm RHS doubled section
  • Drop side on the shredder for unloading bales if needed
  • Spring tensioned drive chains
  • Steel drive chain covers
  • 3 bars on the floor chains have no spikes on them to allow easy transfer from the tray onto feed table
  • Fully sandblasted and painted with 2 pack Urethane


Two-bale feeder

Although the two and five bale feeders share the same cross feed, shredder table, philosophy and build strength the similarities end there. It’s the functionality of these two machines that are quite different. Obviously with the two-bale feeder, end loading is the way to go and this works very well as the bale will flip onto the table every time.


Feeding ability

The rear forks are both my most favourite feature and least favourite feature of the whole machine. I will start with my least favourite because then it is all up hill or down hill depending on how you look at it. The forks are a lottery to load with, particularly on uneven ground, as you literally can’t see a thing and the forks need to be right under the bale for a successful flip manoeuvre, otherwise it turns pear shaped. The more complicated folding and tilting forks on other makes I have used are easier to load with, although the Scannell way of flipping onto the table is more successful, so I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too as they say. The best thing about the rear forks is what looks like a car trolley. This gadget slides up and down the rear forks to bring the bale to the optimum place on the forks before it flips onto the cradle which means there are no harsh landings placing unneeded stress on the machine. This is why the bale flipping is so successful, as if it’s on the forks the only place it can theoretically end up is on the table.

Like the five bale feeder the feeding cradle is the same with the patented twin rotor feed system. The left side is lower and travelling 20% faster than the right side, giving two different feed patterns. It also has three of the Duraglav bars without spikes so that the bale cannot be snagged in any way in the transfer from the forks which makes like easier.


Two-bale features

  • Heavy-duty 4.4 tonne capacity hub assemblies
  • Hub shields protect seals from hay and twine
  • Low centre of gravity and excellent ground clearance
  • Left hand side lowers down level to allow bales to be carried and unloaded, this is also lowered for feeding square bales
  • Full width anti-wrap / deflector bar, feeds product clear of the wheels
  • Two stage loading forks with adjustable free running slider platform
  • 2″ Heavy duty zinc plated floor chain with high tensile bars
  • Full sheet metal adjustable floor to protect shafts
  • Robust 125x75x5mm RHS chassis rails
  • Spring tensioned drive chains
  • Steel drive chain covers.
  • Fully sandblasted and painted with 2 pack Urethane.



Every time I go to the South Island without fail I see at least half a dozen of these Scannell two or five bale feeders around the country side, clearly proving their popularity with the farmers. The reason for this is very simple, well that’s it really – they are simple. Well-built, well designed and well loved by the people that use them. Farmers keep buying them again and again, which in itself is a testament to the product.


  • Well designed and built
  • Twin rotor feed system with variable speed shredders is excellent
  • Axel hubs stop feed and netwrap from entering the bearings
  • Full width deflector bar pushes feed clear of the wheels
  • 3 bars on the floor chains have no spikes on them to allow easy transfer from the tray onto feed table
  • Folded plate tandem axles with high tensile bronze pivot bushes.
  • Walking beam pivot is offset so that the front tyres carry less weight for better turning and less sledging in muddy conditions
  • Full metal floor stops feed wrapping around shafts
  • Two stage loading forks with free running ‘car trolley’ for perfect bale transfer


  • Diverter valve on five bale feeder was hard to reach from the cab although another set of remotes is available or and electric diverter as an option.

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Photography: Jaiden Drought

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