The big grab | Grapple simultaneously grabs two big round bales and rotates them 90 degrees
BRANDON — The Haukaas rotating grapple is designed to gently move a pair of big round bales through a 90 degree arc for quick loading and stacking.
As producers take hay quality more seriously, they become more interested in equipment that lets them do a better job of handling bales without damaging the wrapping material.
“With BSE behind us and hay shortages all across North America, producers are taking hay quality a lot more seriously,” said Bert Sutherland, the Haukaas dealer in Saskatoon.
“Guys are becoming more aware that their equipment and the way they handle bales can cost them money. So they’re taking a good close look at things like this Haukaas Flex Grapple. As far as we know, this is the first rotating grapple hook anyone has ever seen.”
Sutherland said the operator picks two big round bales off the semi trailer in a horizontal orientation, drives to the bale stack while rotating them into a vertical orientation and then sets them on the ground. Once four bales are lined up as a set, the operator places two bales on top in a horizontal orientation to prevent weather damage.
“We call it a mushroom stack. With six bales in each stack, there are only two open ends touching the ground,” he said.
“And we have no incisor teeth to damage the wrap anywhere in the overall Haukaas system. We always pack them in tight, regardless of how many bales we have. That makes it harder for the deer and the weather to get at the hay.”
Sutherland said the tractor factor is often overlooked. There’s less stress on the tractor, especially on axles and CV joints, because the rotating pivot point of the grapple does all the heavy twisting and turning.
“By the time the grapple is ready for market, we’ll have universal mounting kits to fit all the larger loader tractors,” he said.
“Keep in mind that you’re handling two big bales at a time, so there’s a lot of weight and leverage at play here. With 3,000 pounds or more of hay plus 1,000 lb. for the machine, you can’t use a lightweight tractor.”
The pivot point can rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise but not both directions. Producers who order a Haukaas grapple must decide in advance which rotation they want.
Most tractors will require one more hydraulic circuit to handle the rotating mechanism. Sutherland said the design criteria calls for the rotating grapple to handle 200,000 bales without major maintenance work.
Greg Haukaas said he will have four new bale grapples on the market this year. The main one will be the two-bale rotating grapple that’s been receiving all the attention.
There will also be a two-bale non-rotating grapple designed primarily for loading trailers in the field. It will be of limited use stacking bales back in the yard because it doesn’t rotate.
There will also be a single bale rotating grapple and a single bale, non-rotating bale grapple.
Haukaas said the idea for a rotating head came from Gord Kozroski of Gull Lake, Sask., who had already bought a Haukaas bale cart.
“Greg came out to visit and see how the cart was working and see if maybe there was some way to improve it,” Kozroski said.
“I was already stacking my bales in the yard two on the flat with a mushroom on top, so three high. But it took some time. He asked what I’d need to load pipeline style. I told him I’d need a grapple that rotated. So he built one for me last year. It’s fabulous. Cuts my load-unload time in half and makes my life so much easier.”
Haukaas said the original unit for Kozroski had fingers holding the bales. They were poking holes in the net wrap, so he changed to pipes.
“Our No. 1 rule here is we don’t damage the integrity of the bale. The net wrap is very delicate stuff, so we take extra precautions to make sure it doesn’t rip.”
Haukaas is still working on the pricing structure, but his target price is less than $7,000.
He expected to have 10 of the new units ready for sale before this haying season.
For more information, contact Sutherland at 306-664-2378, Haukaas at 306-355-2718, Kozroski at 306-672-7463 or visit www.haukaas.com.