A hay baler is a device used to make bales of hay from rows of cut hay. There are several different hay baler types, with each producing a tightly compressed bundle of twine-tied hay. Some balers produce small, square bales of hay, while others produce large, square bales. Other versions of the hay baler produce large, round bales of hay. There are baling machines that simply bale the hay, and there are machines that bale the hay and then kick the bale up and out of the machine into a wagon being towed behind the baler.
Hay is eaten by nearly every type of farm animal and is a basic staple in the feeding program on most farms. The hay grows in a field much like a tall grass, and must be mowed and collected in order to feed the animals year-round. This collecting is done by using a hay baler, a machine that is towed behind a tractor. Once the hay has been cut or mowed, it is raked into wind rows, rows of hay that are fluffed to allow the wind to dry out some of the liquids from the cut hay. Once sufficiently dried, the hay is baled.
The task of the hay baler is to gather the cut hay and pack it tightly into neat bundles called bales. The farmer can adjust the weight and compaction of the bales by adjusting the machine. Once the baling machine has gathered enough hay to form a bale, the machine ties the bundle tightly with two pieces of baling twine. The twine not only holds the bale together, it provides a type of handle for the farmer to carry the bale. The twine can be a natural, hemp-type twine or a man-made plastic type of twine.
The baler can be one of several designs. Some versions of the hay baler make small, square bales that come out of the machine on a chute. The bales are pushed up the chute by subsequent bales until a worker on a wagon can grab the bales and stack them on a wagon. Other types of balers produce large bales that are dropped on the ground and a tractor lifts the bales to stack them on a trailer. Other balers make small, square bales that are kicked out of the baler and into a towed wagon — these are called kick-balers. Another type of hay baler produces large, round bales that can be tied with twine, plastic mesh or plastic sheeting to protect the bale from the weather.