Pre-Cutter Balers Benefit Both Hay And Livestock Producers

Experts like University of Wisconsin Forage Agronomist Dr. Dan Undersander say if you’re not considering using a hay baler that includes a pre-cutting system, you should be. Many hay producers have found that the investment in a pre-cutter baler can pay off in the long run.

“Data would indicate that pre-cutting is very beneficial both to the person making the bales and to the person feeding the bales,” Undersander said. Read on to learn more about the benefits of a pre-cutter baler, and watch this video about the advantages of balers equipped with a pre-cutting system to hear more from Undersander himself.

How does a pre-cutter baler work?

Before we explore all the benefits of pre-cutter, or crop-cutter, balers, let’s look at how they work. Balers with pre-cutting systems use knives to cut the forage before it’s rolled into a bale. In these machines, a rotor placed behind the pickup pulls the crop over a set of baler knives and into the bale chamber.

4 ways pre-cutter balers benefit hay producers

Undersander explains that by cutting hay into smaller pieces, you can create denser bales. Making denser bales can help your hay operation run more efficiently.

  1. Denser bales help you pack more tonnage into a bale. Since only the density of the bale increases and not its size, you can store more hay in the same space.
  2. The denser a bale is, the better it will hold its form. This makes it easier to stack bales and keeps the stack more stable.
  3. With denser bales, you can transport more weight in the same amount of space, helping you manage transportation costs.
  4. Making denser bales may help you manage packaging costs. More forage in one bale means you’re using less netwrap and plastic, which can save both time and money.

3 ways crop-cutter balers benefit livestock producers

The benefits of using a baler with baler knives extend to those who are feeding livestock too. It’s a simple reminder, but Undersander will tell you that cattle eat pounds, not bales. So, denser bales mean more forage packed into less space. Pre-cut bales benefit livestock producers in a few other ways, as well.

  1. It’s easier to incorporate hay into a TMR (total mixed ration) that has been cut short with a pre-cut bale. Pre-cut bales are easier to break apart and mix into a TMR. This can help save time spent on feeding.
  2. Pre-cut bales help reduce waste because cows don’t drop forage out of the sides of their mouths like they do when it isn’t cut to a shorter length.
  3. With pre-cut forage, cows consume more because they have to chew less. This can lead to improved animal performance and weight. According to Dr. Undersander’s studies, producers can see a 10% improvement in animal gain because of this.

“If you put a bale into a bunk to be fed, a cow will go up to the bale, backup and chew, dropping off a portion on either side of its face before swallowing what it had in its mouth. If you have the forage pre-cut into a 4-inch length, the animal consumes a larger portion of that forage and drops less outside the bunk — that’s an improved feed efficiency.” –Dr. Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin Forage Agronomist

For more ideas about improving feed efficiency, check out these articles:

Stop hay waste with the right feed management

Help prevent costly forage waste, optimize feeding with a vertical feed mixer

If you have questions about how a baler with a pre-cutting system can help your operation, reach out to your local Vermeer dealer.

This article contains third-party observations, advice or experiences that do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Vermeer Corporation, its affiliates or its dealers.