Hay balers have been around since the late 1800s, the same time the agricultural industry was evolving thanks to the introduction of many new machines.
Before the introduction of the hay baler, bay was stored loose in the upper story of a farmer’s barn. This took up valuable barn space, however, so the prospect of more easily stored hay bales was something farmers were extremely interested in.
Hay was taken from the field and put into a bale chamber by hand. The baler was powered (literally) by horse power with horses walking on an inclined leather and wood treadmill belt. Once a hay bale reached the right size, twine or wire was wrapped around the bale and tied.
Baler technology was constantly improving. Steam traction engines took over for the horse and then the internal combustion tractor replaced the steam engine.
In the 1930s, balers were attached to tractors, allowing them to pick up hay from the ground. Thirty years later, hydraulics allowed the introduction of the large round baler. Balers continue to improve to this day thanks to farm implement manufacturing companies. Today, the most popular baler on the market is the round hay baler.
Presently, custom balers, or people who bale hay only to sell it, are a huge market for new baler sales. Corporate farms are another large market segment. Both custom balers and corporate farms utilize large tractors to power balers. Large balers are predicted to be the standard for several years as hydraulics and bale wrapping technology continue to improve.
Balers are one of the most important pieces of farm equipment. One reason for this is that hay is eaten by almost every farm animal. Hay fields are similar to tall grass in that they must be moved in collected so that animals are fed all year. Without a hay baler, none of this would be possible.
Once hay is cut or mowed it is raked into windrows – or rows of hay that are fluffed so that wind can dry out some of the moisture. Once this process has taken place, hay is able to be baled.