Rolling Cart Spreads Big Bales On Long Feeder

An 8-ft. round bale feeder wasn't big enough when Frank Thompson wanted to stretch one large bale to feed 40 calving heifers. So he built a 32-ft. long feed bunk with an unrolling cart on top that makes it easy to spread out a big bale.

"The cart was made with axles from an old grain drill. Wheel rims roll on the two 32-ft. pipes at the top of the feeder," says the Springer, New Mexico farmer.

Thompson welded V-shaped brackets out of 1 1/2-in. rod to each side of the cart to support a 2-in. rod through the center of the bale. Thompson's bales have soft centers so the rod goes in easily.

Thompson lifts a bale up onto the cart with a loader with a fork and grappling hook, dropping the rod onto the V-brackets.

He manually rolls the cart along the feeder and peels hay off the bale with a bent pitchfork.

"Solid core bales spin like a top," Thompson says. They can roll too fast and unroll hay in one place, so they require a little more care.

The cart rolls so easily that it can blow right off with a wind, so Thompson added short upright pipes at each end of the top rails. He also slips a U-shaped piece of metal on a rail to stop the cart where he wants to stop spreading hay.

He's used the feeder to handle 1,600-lb., 6-ft. dia. bales for about five years and it has held up well.