Bedding outdoor sows


I spent a fair amount of time today inefficiently taking 13 small quadrant bales (80*70), four at a time, out to the dry sows, while the rest of the team bedded up the farrowing section with the RTV and bale trailer. With all the trundling around, my mind started to wander... There must be a better way.

Our system for the dry sows is to put a bale in front of a group of huts, cut the strings and throw the wads in through the door. Even with only 12 paddocks to do, this is a PITA. Mostly it just takes ages making the 3 or 4 trips from the straw shed (in the yard) to the paddocks, but the amount of manual work means it's ideally an "all-hands-on-deck" scenario. It ties up a lot of labour, and the telehandler (busiest machine).

I'd like to mechanise the job to get it down to a single person activity, with only one trip from the yard to the field required. This means maybe 8-10 of our little quads (80*70), or 6 or so of the 120*90 HD bales we also get. Which obviously leads me to think "trailed straw chopper". Apart from the Tubeline Bale Boss 4 - made in Canada - I can't find my bale shredders/spreaders that have the capacity.

Before I embark on one of my more ambitious workshop projects, I thought it best to check what other outdoor producers do, to see if we're not missing a trick... What's your system?

I'm not so worried about our farrowing section. I'd have concerns about blasting shredded straw (and the inevitable flint) towards young piglets, so don't really want to mechanise it per se, but I don't expect the 80*70 bale size to remain so prevalent over the next 5-10yrs. Larger bales are great from a logistics point of view, but handling the wads manually is nigh on impossible for those somewhat short of arm (like me).


Not sure there is an easy way! We tried a straw chopper, the big trailed one's usually have a chute at the top which made it difficult to blow into a low arc door. Borrowed a teagle 404? which did discharge from the bottom but struggled to get any amount into the hut so ended up doing the job more often, also was quite slow.
We had big John Booth jumbo huts so we could push a full 80x70 bale into the hut with the loader and then cut the band's. Easier but excessive use on straw. Also tried this with 4ft rounds.
We had a low trailer which we could get 4 120x90s on and would drive up to the hut, 1 person went in the hut to chuck the straw about and 1 person to pass the slice of straw through the door. Was hard work but that was the best way we found of doing it.
I don't know what size dry sow huts you have but we have done several methods with the large "serving hut" type with Quadrant bales.
We have a bale spike that carries four bales, and often we use a trailer as well to put bales out ready around the outside of the radial, a one man job.
When bedding up, generally we put the bales on their sides, place one end on the threshold, then push in from the end, then remove the strings and let the sows do the spreading. Using one full bale per 15' x 10' hut.
We found that one make of hut, with a timber base frame, was a bit fragile to push the bales in this way and a bit too small at 15' to take a whole bale, so we use a Quicke Quadrogrip wrapped square bale squeezer and put a bale half in the hut, again on it's side, remove the strings, then regrip half of the bale to place in another hut.
We have a 32 paddock radial and i'm trying to encourage a few paddocks being bedded each week, rather than having to try and blitz the lot every few weeks.
Either way, the job is a lot faster with two people, one driving and one destringing.
We've got mechanical bedders (a Teagle 4040 and a Spreadabale) but they tend to stay parked up as they don't make the job any faster.

For using part quadrants, especially around the farrowing paddocks, we have bale carriers that are picked up on pallet tines, for carrying cut bales.
A key is having plenty of loaders about. We haven't got any tractors without a loader, plus a telescopic.


Thanks for the replies all. Somewhat heartening to learn we're not the only ones who have struggled to find the ideal method.

Some good ideas @Suffolk Serf, with the bale holders and bale squeezer. Might be able to save us some time around the yards with the squeezer. Will have to think on that... :unsure:

Love the Teagle/trailer mashup. My current concept - which is probably as far as I'll ever get - is not dissimilar, but has capacity for 10mini hestons, and can process two at a time!

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