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Auger Running Gear Makes Great Bale Unroller
Keith Johnson converted a portable auger’s running gear into a bale unroller. The auger was shot but the running gear, an A-frame with winch and hinged auger support brace, were in good order.
“We had looked at various bale unrollers, but most had very little clearance, and we get a lot of snow in Minnesota,” notes Keith’s wife, Anna. “The running gear was wider than the tractor we planned to use, but we figured we could modify it to follow the tractor tire tracks in deep snow.”
It required moving the wheels to the inside of the horizonal frame. At the same time, Keith lifted the frame for more clearance, by cutting off the last 7 or 8 in. of the frame that housed the wheel stubs. He reattached them in a vertical position, perpendicular to the frame.
“This was tricky due to the angle of the frame, and we didn’t get them quite square,” says Anna. “We also attached strips of scrap metal to reinforce the vertical arm.”
The Johnsons used the hinged auger support brace at the rear of the running gear to carry the bale. They moved the vertical, fixed A-frame with its winch to a midway point on the running gear frame.
To lift and carry bales, the Johnsons fashioned two vertical arms out of angle iron. The arms hang down from a pipe welded to the upper ends of the auger support brace. Each arm has a short leg that slides into the pipe and is secured to the brace by a length of chain.
“The pipe is about the width of a bale, but the chains have some slack,” says Anna. “If we don’t back up quite square to a bale, we can slide the arms out some.”
Short lengths of pipe welded to the bottom of the vertical arms hold the bale spears. “We used the lathe to put points on 1-in. steel shafts to make the spears,” says Anna. “They slide through the pipe and into the bale. If needed, we pound them in with a sledge. Chains welded to the spears keep them in place when driving empty.”
The first winter the Johnsons put their unroller to work they discovered it needed a few modifications. The original winch had been fine for lifting the brace with an auger, but they needed something heavier duty for bales.
The unroller has made it easier to feed hay to the Johnson’s cattle herd and sheep flock. It spreads the hay out, so all the individual animals get their fair share. It also spreads out the fertility as they unroll bales in different areas each day.
“Usually Keith drives the tractor, and I lower the bale to unroll as he goes,” says Anna. “It unrolls pretty well, and we don’t have to worry about the cattle and sheep getting into each other’s bale feeders.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Keith and Anna Johnson, 63326 300th St., Gibbon, Minn. 55335 (ph 507 240-5004; blissfulbeepastures@gmail.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #3