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Moving hay with no equipment?

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  • Moving hay with no equipment?

    My husband and I just moved into our first horse property! It’s been such a joy to have our horses right outside our front door. However, moving from an apartment to a hobby farm has been quite expensive and we don’t have all of the equipment we need yet. We have someone coming to deliver large square bales of hay for the winter who we assumed would have a loader or some sort of equipment to move the hay, but he doesn’t. We have nothing but a garden tractor and a wheelbarrow. Is it feasible to move this by from his semi into our barn? Any tips?

  • #2
    How many bales are we talking and what does each bale weigh?
    ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


    • Original Poster

      They are 550 pounds 😅 so, huge! However, hey said they’re in sections so I’m wondering if we could move them flake by flake. We were planning on buying 20 to get us through the winter, but we might have to do less if any.


      • #4
        You are not going to get a 550 lb bale into a wheelbarrow. How close to your barn can he park? If you had some kind of wagon or dolly you could attach that to the tractor.


        • Original Poster

          Definitely not— I’m not sure how the “sections” work though so I was thinking one section could fit in the wheelbarrow. We do have some furniture dollies... not sure if we could figure out a way to rig that to the tractor. He should be able to drive right up to the barn though.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
            You are not going to get a 550 lb bale into a wheelbarrow.
            That's an understatement!

            I was thinking a cart hooked to your garden tractor. But still, you aren't going to be able to off load it anywhere if it weighs 550 pounds - unless its piece by piece.

            I think I'd start by checking with neighbors - if someone has a farm tractor or something with implements that could move the bales for you. Offer money, dinner and beer for their trouble.
            ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


            • #7
              You could possibly borrow or rent a tractor with a FEL. You might need bale forks or a squeeze or grabber rental. Can the supplier bring his squeezer/grabber with him when he delivers? Not sure how you'd stack them without such a device. I can move a 100-125lb bale (how we normally buy our hay out here, unless it's "local grass" then they are 50-60lb.). When I get my hay from my guy, he loads it on my truck with a grabber.
              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


              • #8
                You'll need one of these anyway - but check dimensions of the bale to see if it will fit. Ours is from Sears and has been a real workhorse - this isn't the one we have, but it is similar. It has a load capacity of 750#.

                ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


                • #9
                  No, the best bet is to back it as close to where you want to get it, push it off the truck, and feed it from there. My old barn did this and the hay was great but it was an awful pain.


                  • #10
                    If your hay guy can't bring the loader (have you offered to pay him to do that?) neighbors or rental are your best bet. It's not reasonable to hand unload those bales--from a weight perspective but also from A TIME perspective. Your delivery guy doesn't want to wait around for you to open everything and schlep it into the barn bit by bit. Big bales are only a realistic option if you have the equipment to move the bales quickly.

                    ETA: one more thing...if you're begging or borrowing equipment, note that it'll need to reach fairly high to unload. We could move big bales around and stack them two high with a small tractor with forks (a JD 2320) but there was NO way we could have unloaded. Bales stacked two high on the trailer are pretty far up there. In our case, the hay guy was happy to bring the skid steer with the hay (for a fee, of course )
                    Last edited by Simkie; Oct. 9, 2019, 06:20 PM.


                    • #11
                      Can you get this delivered in a shipping container that can be dropped there that you can rent/buy?

                      Otherwise, the answer there is no way in hell you can hand unload 20 of these 550# large bales unless you had drafted the entire village

                      We now get large three string bales that are about 140 pounds least those can be moved with a two wheel cart.

                      The large bales you are getting the only way we could handle those was one in the pickup bed (these were about 1,000 pound 3by3by8 bales... once loaded in the truck by the hay seller at their warehouse we could wrap a rope around the bale then tie the rope off to hold the bales then drive away dropping the bale onto two 4b4 pallets

                      You also need to check with the shipping company has to how long you can have the driver wait without having to pay more for the delayed unloading
                      Last edited by clanter; Oct. 10, 2019, 10:45 AM.


                      • #12
                        If you haven't paid for the large bales, I'd cancel the order. If you have to rent something to unload them, that's more cost.

                        I only get the 120-140lb. bales and even those are a pain to move around. Have you checked with any close neighbors?

                        It usually takes a full sized tractor with a good bucket to handle that size bail.
                        "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


                        • #13
                          I saw a video either on Youtube or FB where a guy moved his round bales with a chain/rope thru the short end of a 4 x 8 piece of plywood and then looped over the ball of his hitch (think of a sled). If you have access to a truck, you could at least drag them into a barn aisle or to where you want them. Time to buy some tarps...


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by quarterhorsemom View Post
                            My husband and I just moved into our first horse property! It’s been such a joy to have our horses right outside our front door. However, moving from an apartment to a hobby farm has been quite expensive and we don’t have all of the equipment we need yet. We have someone coming to deliver large square bales of hay for the winter who we assumed would have a loader or some sort of equipment to move the hay, but he doesn’t. We have nothing but a garden tractor and a wheelbarrow. Is it feasible to move this by from his semi into our barn? Any tips?
                            Agree with earlier posters. Cancel the order for the larger bales if you don't have the equipment to move them and replace the order with smaller bales. Best way to lose a hay supplier is to make his life difficult or to be late in payment. You don't want to do either if you are a smaller operation.

                            Just keep in mind moving/stacking hay is often not the job of the supplier. This is something that should be clarified up front. If you and hubby are planning to unload the hay yourself, its likely you'll be unloading and moving 100's of smaller bales. It is absolutely doable IF you are used to the physical work. Might be best to hire extra help to ensure you have it for your first time putting up hay. Second time putting up hay you can adjust and hire more or less help based on your first time experience.

                            Best of luck!!
                            Last edited by OneTwoMany; Oct. 9, 2019, 08:04 PM.


                            • #15
                              Before you cancel verify:
                              a. Hay guy can’t bring a skid steer and/or
                              b. These aren’t bundled small squares. Around here our hay guys bundle small squares in to large squares for less handling. If needed, though a pain, you could break them open and move by hand

                              Welcome to home horsekeeping!


                              • #16
                                I'll echo what Simkie and OneTwoMany said. If you don't have the equipment to move the big bales, cancel the order and buy small squares instead. I'd even caution against borrowing, because driving/maneuvering a largish tractor with FEL is an acquired skill, and you don't want to be responsible for damaging the hay truck or the tractor.

                                In many ways, small squares are much easier to deal with and feed from. Though they may be a little more expensive per ton, they're your best bet until you spring for a tractor and FEL of your own.
                                I will suggest you try to get one sooner than later. When we got our first starter farm (about 8 useable acres, 3-4 horses) we thought we could make do with a lawn tractor. And we did, for almost a year. When we moved to our current farm (15 useable acres, 8-10 horses) we got a Kubota. It was fantastic and made difficult chores soooo much easier. We used it for a lot more than we ever thought we would, and this spring upgraded to a larger model. I know tractors hold value well, and if you buy new, the financing is easy--usually 0%! But I digress....

                                With small squares, they can be relatively easy to lift, move, and stack by an average adult. But moving 2-3 tons in one go will be a beast. As OneTwoMany suggested, it may be worth hiring someone to help.

                                Our local feedstore will deliver and unload/stack hay for an additional price per ton. We've done that before, but it adds up. And their hay is more expensive. We try to source our own hay and pick it up ourselves. If there are local hay suppiers around you, that might be a good option. If you have a horse trailer, you can load it up with hay. That's what we do. Not only can you fit in more bales than in the back of a pickup, you don't have to tie it all down, and if you don't have the energy or time to unload it immediately, it stays sheltered from rain/weather until you do. You could make several trips over the next few weeks until you have enough for the winter.

                                So, hopefully that gives you some things to think about. Good Luck!!
                                Last edited by ElementFarm; Oct. 10, 2019, 05:18 AM. Reason: spelling
                                A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's does that...



                                • #17
                                  I did it for 2 1/2 years without heavy equipment BUT... I would never do it with large squares. No way.

                                  I did a combo of small squares and round bales. I had the physical strength to roll a 650lb round out and down the hill. Then I used my Honda Element to maneuver it into a hay cradle.

                                  Easy? No way. Lotsa sweat, grunting and shoving. But it can be done.... but not with big squares.
                                  <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                                  • #18
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                                    You could move a single mid-square bale by busting it open and moving it one "flake" at a time... each flake weighs about 50lbs or so. But, you will NEVER move 20 bales that way - where in the world would you put all that loose hay???

                                    I agree with the others, you need the right equipment - at least a 45hp tractor and triple spear on the FEL. If you try to use a single spear, you will likely bust the strings of the bales trying to lift them and move them (see photo above with a single spear, after which we modified the bale spear and added 2 more). Unloading them isn't about weight bearing capacity, it is more about stability when reaching up HIGH. I am not sure any rental company will have a triple spear, and like someone else mentioned, maneuvering a FEL is a learned art, and this is NOT the job to try to tackle as a raw beginner.

                                    Agree with others who have said get small squares until you have the right equipment. Or rounds, which CAN be rolled from point to point if they are small and baled tightly.
                                    Last edited by moving to dc; Oct. 10, 2019, 07:44 AM.


                                    • #19
                                      If you are going to ask your neighbors about their equipment to help with this, just offer to hire them to help. That way you have an person who is experienced with the equipment, not someone who is new to it trying to figure it out while the truck driver waits.


                                      • #20
                                        A local barn has the supplier drop a square bale by each horse's stall, or one for every two stalls, don't remember exactly.

                                        He loves that anyone can go feed without needing to move any hay, is right there for every stall.

                                        They have a large aisle that the squares fit fine, still lots of room to walk by and even drive a pickup down it.
                                        Now they have a skid loader and still at times, when they are super busy, they still put big bales by stalls to make chores go faster.

                                        Don't know if that would work for you.