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Question for real farmer-type guys who handle A LOT of hay (square bales)...

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    Question for real farmer-type guys who handle A LOT of hay (square bales)...

    Which hay hook is better -- A "D"-shaped handle or a "T"-shaped handle?

    I used to fight it out picking bales up by their strings with just my hands. But my current hay guy bales so tight that this just wasn't going to work (and certainly not in winter with bulky gloves!).

    I've got two ancient hand-forged "hooks" that I've been using, but I suspect they pre-date "baled hay" and were either intended to be meat hooks or cotton bale hooks. At any rate, they just do not behave properly when I try to handle hay bales with them -- the hook isn't quite the right angle or something.

    I have too many "misses", where the hook does not seat in the bale until several whacks at it, and once it DOES seat solid enough to manhandle the bale around, it won't let loose without a wrestling match. OTOH, when I don't want them sticking anything, they are constantly hanging up in bales, my coat tail, my pant legs, and damn near everything else they get within a hair's breadth of.

    IMO - "D" shaped. I grew up on a midwestern farm and "put up" hay since I was 10. The "T" shaped ones can give you a blister between the fingers even when used w/gloves, and you have a larger range of motion with the "D" handle.


      I prefer a T. Less slippage.
      ... _. ._ .._. .._


        and I prefer an offset handle, which is not shown (open sided D handle). It is all a matter of personal preference. One also has to experiment with length to see what works best. Using hay hooks is an art, hard to learn, and I am NOT good at it, can use them but I have been known to throw one or both hooks with the bale.
        Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

        Member: Incredible Invisbles


          I guess I qualify to answer, having raised, hauled and put in the barn some 2030 small bales and 66 big bales for several years.

          I prefer the T handle, but with a little bit longer neck and less curvy.
          The more curve, the more you may miss when turning the bale loose and the hook will go with the bale.
          You can shape your own curve, depending how long your arms are, less for short arms, more curve ok for long arms, as you have a larger diameter to turn loose of the bale.

          To change that, hook the end on something and pull to bend, they bend easily.

          We made our own out of a lenght of 1/2 steel pipe, drilled a hole in the middle and made the neck and hook out of a steel rod, that we bent to suit us and sharpen the end to a point.
          We welded that to the pipe handle.

          Today you can buy them made, as your picture show, but I like a little bit longer neck on that one T pictured.

          Some people use two hooks, but I do better with one and the other hand on the wires/strings and using my knees for much of the work.


            I have smallish hands and a short "wingspan" so I prefer using the D-hooks...I also use just one because hooking both ends of a bale means my arms are stretched as wide as they can go and I have less control and strength like that. I hook one end and grab string with the other and then swing and toss using my knee behind it. I have a harder time gripping a T-hook...after about 40-50 bales in between my fingers gets sore.
            You jump in the saddle,
            Hold onto the bridle!
            Jump in the line!


              Before I bought my first round baler I put up 8,000 to 10,000 squares a year and prefered the D shape I always welded a sickle blade on top to cut twine strings with.
              Quality doesn\'t cost it pays.


                I put up 3-5 thousand bales a year and prefer the D shape. I like a hook with leather bridging across the D so that you don't need gloves and you can push on the bales with the leather part. Length of hook is very important as you need to be able to grab the bale far enough down so that the hook doesn't pull out. Wingspan makes it easier to heft long 100 lb bales. Cheap hooks aren't worth the wasted effort.


                  I prefer a "T" shaped handle for less slippage, long center, good curve. Wood handle please as in the winter that steel gets cold even thru gloves.

                  We put up around 5000 bales a year, but most of that is done by the men, I just drive the tractor/baler. So my experience is for day to day use, not hundreds of bales at a time.
                  Facta non verba


                    I have "D"s but would rather have "T"s.

                    Sometimes if I have thick, heavy gloves on and hook a bale that's way up high in the pile and pull it down, the weight and momentum of the falling bale causes my hand to almost get stuck in the "D" and in order to prevent a broken wrist I have had to quickly let go of the whole apparatus, glove and all. This has only happened once or twice, but I think it would be less likely to happen with a "T" one.

                    Probably more poor safety technique on my part, but just an observation.
                    Click here before you buy.


                      You could probably have your Farrier heat and bend a hook that is angled wrong for your uses. Maybe experiement with several hooks, each different, see what you like best.

                      I like the wooden D hooks. I have long fingers and the wood handle uses up the length so fingers are not touching the palm of hands.

                      I paint my hooks a very bright color blue, which shows up well if you drop hook or hang it up/set it down, then go back looking for it. Other folks notice the blue hook color faster, prevents them getting hurt on it. I know a couple folks who got hurt on hooks that were not picked up right away after slipping out of the hand. People who left hooks in bad places, others that got damaged on those hooks. Never saw the rusty brown hooks or buried in chaff. Hooks can be a real implement of destruction around the farm. We stop work immediately if someone loses a hook, get hook found so there is no danger to anyone later. Hook doesn't get forgotten someplace.

                      I am not a real fan of using hooks, but they are useful in big hay or straw quantity moving. Do save time instead of looking for the strings. We move about 1500 bales, TWICE, loading onto the semi, then putting into the barn, for winter feeding each year.


                        Has anyone used hooks with compressed bales? They're so tight that it is a chore to work one's fingers under the tapes, but I wonder if a hay hook would just bounce off of them?
                        "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                        Spay and neuter. Please.


                          I only used the T type with the big 3 wire bales when I was a kid, but I can't imagine using a D type and maybe getting my hand caught in it, JMHO.
                          Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
                          Now apparently completely invisible!


                            I have a pair of folding boot pulls. They are an extra large version of a folding hoof pick. They do not have a point on the end - they are blunt, but when I've had very tight bales, I find that these work nicely. I can get 2 fingers into the handle with work gloves on.

                            I'm short and long-handled bale hooks just don't work well for me. I find using one of the hooks to get the bale started moving is a huge help.

                            Here's a photo,rid...t,1892702.html

                            Mine are not antigues. I bought them SOMEPLACE as new boot pulls. But I use them on the strings, not into the bale, like bale hooks work.
                            Last edited by gabz; Feb. 4, 2009, 03:25 PM. Reason: To add how I use "my" hooks.


                              I don't know what use hooks would do me now, I have 700 lbs. square bales delivered and put in place and my horses have access directly to most of it and some I break down one flake at a time and just toss it over to them by hand.

                              My hay man had a bad accident about a year ago that nearly killed him. He had 2 of those bales land on him, hitting him in the neck, breaking some vertabraes. I don't know how he's alive, but he brought me 4 bales today. He looks healthy.

                              I hate wire on the bales, who would do that? Why? You need wire cutters to open them, don't miss the small bales at all. I always wanted to try using a hook and never did buy one. I would think they would be helpful if designed right.


                                Originally posted by monstrpony View Post
                                Has anyone used hooks with compressed bales? They're so tight that it is a chore to work one's fingers under the tapes, but I wonder if a hay hook would just bounce off of them?
                                Hay hooks work better on tight bales. You just have to figure out the right angle to jab them at.


                                  Depends on the type of hay and size of the bales (2-string or 3-string). I bucked a lot of alfalfa as a kid and preferred the D. But when you're putting 20 tons in the barn in 100 degree heat, you sort of lose track of what you're swinging with!