Bale choppers and blowers for bedding and feeding livestock
Versatility is key when it comes to bale processors, whether shredding and blowing long straw for bedding into pig or cattle yards; chopping or milling straw as a ration ingredient, cow cubicle or poultry bedding; or dispensing clamped or baled silage along a feed barrier, there are machines that can do it all.
Here we look at the makes, models and variations.
At a glance
- Base models process and dispense straw only
- Most machines can handle silage as well as straw and hay
- Various chopping methods produce short straw for feed or specialist bedding
- Tractor-mounted, trailed and loader/telehandler configurations are available
The drum-type bale processor from Blaney Agri Solutions is available in Feeder, Bedder and dual-use Feeder-Bedder versions.
All have a large-diameter shredding rotor and high-volume discharge mechanism, which the Northern Irish manufacturer says enables the machine to take from two and a half minutes to process a bale.
See also: Bale unrollers: Options and prices
Different rotor setups provide nominal chop lengths from 25-100mm, with material dispensed via one of two discharge chutes – at mid- and low-level positions – fitted as standard.
An additional low-level outlet and a high-discharge “giraffe” chute with 270deg rotation are available as options.
The Blaney 1200 base model is suited to 1.2m diameter round bales while the 1500 caters for larger diameters up to 1.52m and also large square bales when the drum extension is fitted.
A two-wheel trailed kit is available to use the processor on tractors with insufficient weight or linkage lift capacity to handle the machine in mounted form.
Self-loading for one-tractor operation is also possible using a kit that places a pair of pivoting lift arms to the rear.
The Bedder machine starts at £8,538, while the Feeder version is priced from £9,878.
The Sigma bale processor from French manufacturer Emily is available in tractor-mounted/pto-driven and telescopic loader or telehandler form with hydraulic drive.
Both have a “scoop up” loading door to take two round or one big square bale on board, and the door incorporates a pair of V-shaped blades powered sideways to cut through net or twine under the bale.
Once aboard, bales are moved forward by a three-section walking floor, driven hydraulically with variable speed and automatic load sensing.
Knife sections bolted to steel rings around a single horizontal drum shred straw, with fixed blades above providing resistance while tined angle flights help convey material to the discharge rotor.
Remote control of the chute rotates it through 260deg and adjusts the outlet flap, with a promised throw of 18-20m into cattle yards.
These and all other functions are handled electrically using a control box in the cab.
Prices start at £17,200 for the tractor-mounted Sigma and £19,400 for the loader version.
Kidd (Lamma exhibitor)
Wiltshire-based Kidd Farm Machinery produces mounted and trailed bale processors in four sizes, with all but the largest version available in two formats.
One is capable of shredding and dispensing straw or silage, and the other is capable of the same but also chopping straw to produce a finer bedding or feed material.
Models available with the Twin Chop mechanism are the 2.9cu m 330M (tractor-mounted) and 330T (trailed), the trailed 4.5cu m 450T and 4.74cu m 475T.
This system comprises swinging flails bolted to the shredding rotor, a bank of fixed knives protected by shear-bolts, and a choice of screens inserted or removed from the side that determine the size of the finished product.
Moved into play by remote control from the tractor cab, the chopping mechanism can be used to finely slice straw as a feed or for bedding poultry and the like.
Kidd’s largest model, the 8.5cu m Kidd 850T, has two horizontal shredding drums at the front of the box-shaped body and can carry up to four big square bales on their sides or four large round bales when the loading door extension frame is fitted.
On all models, bales are moved to the shredding rotor by a chain-and-slat floor conveyor with hydraulic drive, 10-setting variable speed and optional load-sensing automatic speed adjustment.
The shredding setup itself involves angled knife sections bolted to rings welded around the drum core, with serrated paddles on the drum encouraging material into the blower housing and a large comb keeping the bale in place.
A two-speed gearbox provides appropriate speeds for the impeller, which has up to 20m discharge range for straw bedding.
A two- or three-section chute is installed – the latter giving additional articulation to dispense into feed troughs or in front of a feed barrier – and a “hog chute” option puts bedding straw into pig arcs.
The two best-selling models are the Kidd 450T shredder, priced from £18,100, and the 475T Twin Chop at £24,530.
Primor bale processors built by Kuhn in France encompass the 2cu m semi- or fully mounted 2060 M; the trailed 3.5cu m 3570 M, 4.2cu m 4260 M Cut Control, 5.5cu m 5570 M and 15cu m 15070 M.
The 5570 M has two unusual options, one being a mixing hopper with double reverse pitch coil for combining minerals and concentrates before they are dispensed into the bottom of the blower and discharged with fodder.
The other is a bale “brake” – which is standard on the Primor 15070 M.
It comprises serrated blades that extend into the body from the sides to lift the second bale off the conveyor and hold it away from the first bale as it goes through the machine.
This is designed to minimise stress on the conveyor and the risk of blockages caused by pressure on the bale being processed.
All but the largest variant, which has two shredding drums, have a single horizontal drum driven by a poly-belt that can quickly be disengaged along with the bed conveyor.
Knife sections are bolted to rings around the drum core, with the middle two and four outer rings of the eight knife carriers positioned in closely-spaced pairs with two single rings between them.
There are regulating tines overhead, while serrated paddles welded to the drum at an angle help propel material to the turbine.
The 3570 M and 5570 M differ from other models in having a bank of fingers over the drum to regulate the intake volume.
In standard form, this unit is set manually in one of three positions, but a fully adjustable hydraulic version is also available.
Producers wanting more finely chopped straw would go for the 4260 M Cut Control as this model has swinging flails on the end of each of the eight blower blades, working against a counter-knife adjustable hydraulically from the tractor cab.
Processed material is discharged through a 300deg chute throwing up to 18m to the right or 13m to the left, with an adjustable “tray chute” added for dispensing fodder in front of a feed barrier or into a trough.
Popular models are the tractor-mounted Primor 2060 M priced £20,030 and the 3570 M at £23,655.
A four-model range of trailed Kverneland bale processors is made up of the 3cu m 863 and 4.2cu m 864 DFCS, the 3cu m 853 DFCS Pro and 6cu m 856 Pro, the latter featuring two shredding drums to handle large volumes of material.
DFCS versions are equipped with a start-up feed control system comprising baffle plates lowered into position over the shredding drum.
These are lifted clear for maximum throughput once the flywheel blower is fully up to speed.
The 860 models have a redesigned blower with larger bolt-on paddles and a wider discharge channel, and, on the 864, a stone trap.
All Kverneland processors get a two-speed gearbox for the blower, allowing them to work slower when feeding out and faster when dispensing straw bedding – with a throw of up to 18m (853 Pro) or 20m.
A fixed side chute or four-stage, 260deg swivelling version are available on most models.
Bales taken onboard using the ramp or a loader are moved forwards on a chain-and-slat conveyor that has the slats running on low-friction plastic strips.
A variable-speed hydraulic drive powers the conveyor and, like the ramp, can be operated from controls located on one side of the machine.
Restrictor plates are set in the lowered position over the single shredding drum while the blower gets up to speed and are then raised to get maximum throughput of material.
The drum has knife sections bolted in place at an angle to work against static blades for optimum cutting effect.
Bestsellers are the 863 Pro priced from £21,741 and the 864 Pro at £25,534.
French manufacturer Lucas-G produces two distinct styles of machine for processing straw bales – the 2cu m Raptor in tractor-mounted, trailed and telehandler formats; and the box-shaped Square model for rectangular bales in trailed 20cu m and 27cu m sizes.
The Square bale processors are capable of holding four or six 1.2×1.2m cross-section bales up to 2.5m long, placed onboard using a loader.
There are three chain-driven processing drums up front, equipped with seven vertical serrated discs between them, and a single speed turbine of 2.2m diameter fitted with eight paddles to give up to 21m of throw.
List prices are £46,873 and £52,245.
The self-loading 2cu m Raptor is available in tractor-mounted and trailed formats with manual, cable or electrically-operated hydraulic controls, and in telehandler configuration with electric controls.
A single-speed gearbox is standard for bedding straw, while the two-speed option includes a slower turbine speed for feeding silage.
A further option for the trailed configuration is a pivoting rather than rigid drawbar that allows the machine to follow the path of the tractor’s rear wheels.
Once a bale is onboard using the ramp or a loader, it is indexed forward on a chain-and-slat conveyor set to one of nine hydraulic drive speeds, putting it in contact with a processing drum equipped with five vertical serrated discs in line with overhead counter-knives.
Multiple slim tines between the discs encourage material into the turbine housing, from where it is discharged through a 270deg rotating chute throwing typically 15m to the right or 13m to the left.
Prices for the 2cu m Raptor go from £17,290 in mounted guise to £21,555 for the trailed version, with the telehandler model at £19,500.
For finer chopping, Lucas-G produces the trailed self-loading C-Kator in 2cu m and 3cu m sizes – priced at £26,800 and £31,350, respectively.
This one has a more common processing drum design with knife sections mounted in pairs at opposing angles on six rings around the drum core and with adjustable tines overhead to regulate the incoming volume.
Further processing is then carried out by the 1.6m diameter turbine and the smooth-edged horizontal blades fitted on the end of each paddle.
An adjustable flap at the top of the housing creates a confined chopping zone with an adjustable counter-blade at the end.
When the flap and blade are engaged, a nominal 40mm chop length is achieved, with longer lengths produced using different settings.
Material is thrown about 10m with the lateral chute and about 9m to either side with the 270deg swivelling version.
Fodder bale processing in addition to straw is available with the Castor-R machines, covering six capacities from 2cu m to 18cu m using one, two or three drums similar to those in the C-Kator with paired knife sections on discs across the drum.
Prices go from £18,800 for the 2cu m machine to £42,200 for the 18cu m version.
McHale (Lamma exhibitor)
The four-model range of bale processors for straw and fodder from Irish manufacturer McHale Engineering takes in the tractor-mounted C430 for one silage or two straw round bales, and the trailed C460 (two 1.2m bales), C470 (two 1.5m bales) and C490 (three 1.5m bales).
The tapered shape of the body – narrow at the bottom and widening to the top – provides compact dimensions for work around buildings and reduces the likelihood of loose material pitching over the sides.
All are self-loading machines with a speed-adjustable, hydraulically-driven chain-and-slat floor conveyor in galvanised steel moving round or square bales to the processing drum.
The feed rotor in each case has up to 56 knife-section blades bolted alternately right- and left-angled to seven discs, with volume regulating fingers overhead and paddles between the discs encouraging material into the flywheel blower housing.
Hydraulic engagement of the belt drive to the processing drum means the blower can be brought up to speed first.
A two-speed gearbox is standard to suit distribution of fodder and bedding straw, with the higher speed throwing straw up to 18m to the right or 13m to the left from a three-section chute that can be swivelled through 300deg using the electric joystick controller.
Bestsellers are the McHale C430 priced £19,033 and the C460 listed at £22,742.
Hampshire-based RS Agri expanded its bale processor range earlier this year with the 9cu m Sabre 900+, introduced to complement the 6cu m 600+ and 600 non-chopping model.
All three are trailed and self-loading via a ramp door, and have hydraulic drives via a gearbox to a single 1.5m wide chain-and-slat conveyor on the Sabre 600/600+ and two such conveyors on the Sabre 900 – one each for the front and rear halves of the longer bed – with individual hydraulic control.
In all cases, bales are fed to a single shredding drum, which on the Sabre 600 operates with up to 84 angled knife-section blades.
The same number of blades is used on “plus” models but they also have the VariChop processing system comprising 16 swinging flails on the drum, a hydraulically adjusted chopping gate with 15 stationary blades, and a manually adjusted drum concave.
This setup is reckoned to reduce material to lengths of between 20-60mm for incorporating straw into feed rations.
In addition, the Sabre 900+ has a shaft-and-gearbox driveline rather than the more common belt or chain drives to handle higher input power.
To minimise the risk of blockages on VariChop machines, the bed conveyor automatically slows, stops or reverses when excess pressure on the shredding drum is detected by a reduction in rotation speed.
There is no need for a manual reset in this situation as the conveyor drive will resume once normal drum operating speed is regained.
On all versions, the six-paddle flywheel blower is said to throw material up to 20m from a 270deg three-stage swivelling chute, which can discharge on to a “slide chute” when dispensing fodder into a trough or against a feed barrier.
The Sabre 600+ is priced £34,250 and the 900+ at £38,500.
Teagle (Lamma exhibitor)
Tractor-mounted drum-type processors are produced alongside mounted and trailed box machines at Teagle Machinery’s factory in Cornwall.
The Tomahawk 4040 and 5050 rotating-drum models handle straw, clamp silage and fodder packaged in 1.2m and 1.5m diameter round bales, as well as 1.2m-wide square bales 0.9m and 1.2m deep, respectively, with drum extensions available.
Teagle’s 5050XL comes with a longer drum as standard to accommodate full-size Hesston bales.
Drum rotation speed is variable to fine-tune throughput, and the processing rotor in the base of the drum carries six fixed blades and several angled knife sections.
There is a choice of three discharge chute configurations, including one for putting out straw horizontally at near ground level, and two “giraffe” options to suit straw only or straw and baled fodder.
Prices start at £12,810 for the 4040.
To produce a shorter dry material, the equivalent 404M, 505M and 505XLM have a chopping or milling rotor in place of the shredding disc, fitted with either swinging knives or hammer flails and a choice of 15mm to 35mm screens.
The machines can be fitted with one or two top discharge chutes – the latter allowing material to be spread to the left or right.
Prices are from £12,330.
In addition to these pto-driven models, electric drive is available for a static installation.
The Tomahawk 500B is a further variation of these chopping/milling models.
Equipped with a hydraulically driven fan, it can transport finely processed straw into a building through clear plastic flexible tubing, with remote on-off control from up to 100m away from the machine.
For use on smaller tractors, all the drum processors can be mounted on a trailed or semi-mounted two-wheel chassis.
Features common to all models in Teagle’s “box body” straw processors include a hydraulic loading ramp, hydraulic drive chain-and-slat conveyor and a 1.5m diameter, eight-paddle pto-driven blower with replaceable paddle sections.
A wireless Bluetooth in-cab control panel eliminates cables running between the machine and tractor.
Models for routine processing of straw for bedding and clamp or baled forage have a chain-driven rotor, straight and angled knife sections bolted to flanges around the drum, and bale restraining fingers to regulate intake.
To produce more intensely processed straw for cubicle bedding or as a ration ingredient, Dual Chop versions have short hook tines on the drum working against a bank of counter-knives, and a choice of screens.
The multi-purpose Tomahawk machines comprise the 3cu m tractor-mounted 7100 and the trailed 3.5cu m 8100, 4.5cu m 8500, 8cu m 9500 and 10cu m 1010 – the latter capable of processing four big square bales thanks to its large body and two shredding drums.
These will all process and dispense clamp or baled silage and hay in addition to bedding straw, which it can fire up to 20m from a swivel chute or 22m from a fixed left-hand version.
Dual Chop models are the tractor-mounted 3cu m 7150 and trailed 3.5cu m 8150, which are suitable for straw processing only; and the 4.5cu m 8555 that can also handle silage and hay.
On this model, screens are inserted and removed from one side; likewise the optional blanking frame that is stored on the underside of the chassis for use when processing clamp or baled silage.
Prices span £24,420 to £41,355.
Teagle also produces the Telehawk T2 for use with a telescopic loader or telehandler with at least 2.8t lift capacity.
Self-loading using the hydraulic tailgate, the machine has capacity for one round bale up to 1.5m diameter or one square bale up to 1.2m cross-section and 2.4m long.
The chain-and-slat conveyor and turbine are to the same design as other Tomahawk processors, but the shredding drum has hook rippers rather than knives to tease straw bales apart, and automatic feed control avoids drum overload by stopping and, if necessary, reversing the bed conveyor.
When the drum and fan have done their work, the 280deg swivelling chute discharges straw up to 13.5m away. It is priced at £24,850.
Belgian manufacturer VDMJ Machinery’s biggest bale processors – the TSB-260V and narrower but taller TSB-260Z – are linkage-mounted machines that can also be had with an axle and drawbar kit.
Capable of handling round bales of straw or hay up to 1.9m diameter and square bales up to 2.6m long with a 1.2×1.2m cross section, the self-loading machine has hydraulic drive for the bed conveyor and shredding drum.
This has spiral flights fitted with knife sections and overhead tines to restrict material intake to the blower housing, where the eight-blade turbine is driven by pto through a gearbox.
The TSB-260V can be had with a lateral discharge chute or 300deg swivelling version, both throwing up to 20m.
Lever-operated valves on the processor is the standard control setup, with in-cab electric control an option.
VDMJ also produces bale processors for operation on various types of loader.
The WSB-140V and similar but higher-specification WSB-140Z are for skid-steer, rigid chassis and articulated-chassis compact loaders weighing at least 2.3t and with 35- to 65-litre/min auxiliary oil flow.
They can take round bales up to 1.5m diameter or 1.2×0.9m square bales no longer than 1.4m in a rigid body or up to 2.2m on the Z model when the optional hydraulic loading ramp is fitted.
V models have a fixed lateral chute on the left, while the Z has a 300deg rotating chute, both blowing up to 12m dependent upon oil flow.
VDMJ’s larger WSB+ series processor is for heavier loaders and handlers weighing at least 3t and with 55- to 125-litre/min oil flow.
This model is available with rigid box bodies of 2.1m and 2.6m or with a hydraulic loading ramp at 2m and 2.5m, all accommodating round bales up to 1.8m diameter and 1.2m cross-section square bales from 2m to 2.6m in length depending upon the box configuration.
All the loader-mounted processors have electric controls, plus hydraulic drive to the chain-and-slat bed conveyor, shredding drum and impeller.
Prices start at £11,750 for a WSB-140 processor from importer PGF Agri.
In addition to a processor handing five big square bales at a time, Enegis also supplies three machines for tractor or compact loader operation from Belgian manufacturer VDW Constructie.
The Mega trailed straw-only processor needs a loader to place five big square bales upright in the large body, which has steps leading to a walkway along one side that provides access to cut and loop the twines around bale fork tines to pull them out.
A chain-and-slat conveyor feeds material to a single slowly rotating drum at the front, equipped with long blades to break up bale flakes and feed them into the turbine housing.
VDW says each big bale takes about a minute to dispense through a fixed or swivelling discharge chute.
At the other end of the size and performance scale are three Compact models for loaders, with the smallest – the Uno Compact for skid-steer and tractor loaders – weighing in at 480kg, handling sections of big square bales only and priced at £10,500.
The Duo Compact at £16,900 and Duo Power at £18,400 are for larger skid-steers, compact wheeled loaders and telehandlers – with at least 2t lift capacity for the Duo Power – and linkage-mounted operation on tractors from 100hp.
Load bed lengths are 2.2m and 3.1m, respectively, and hydraulic power requirements are 35 litres/min and 60 litres/min.
Both machines have a hydraulic ramp for self-loading round or rectangular bales, a hydraulically-driven chain-and-slat conveyor, and a shredding drum with knife sections on spiral flights.
Another four knives are fitted to the impeller heads; to help maintain a low-profile design, the machines have two impellers mounted side-by-side to discharge through a centrally mounted 270deg swivelling chute up to 17m either side.