With safety increasingly under the spotlight and more distance covered on the road, one farm has opted for a trio of bale trailers with hydraulically operated sides, reducing the time taken strapping a load. Jane Carley reports.
Transporting large quantities of bales any distance is always a headache, trying to work out the safest method which also cuts loading and unloading time. Bale chasers can be complex and costly, and the traditional flat-bed requires time-consuming strapping, as found by Bedworth-based A.W. and J. Brandreth.
Running an organic dairy farm from its Warwickshire base, an additional 830 hectares of straw in the swath it bought each year as part of its hay and straw business.
The business’ Joe Brandreth explains: “We can be transporting straw from up to 15 miles away, and over that sort of distance a bale chaser is not ideal, because you cannot transport enough bales at once. We also wanted to improve safety, while not having to strap the load gives a quick turnaround. Having seen the Staines trailers with hydraulic sides, it is such a simple system and we liked the trailers so much that we bought three”
The trailers use a pair of hydraulically raised and lowered ‘doors’ along the side of the trailer bed, each of which is capable of operating separately.
Mr Brandreth makes bales with dimensions of 1.2 by 0.9 by 2.4 metres, and 32 can be loaded four high onto the farm’s 9.7m long Staines trailers, carrying 15 to 16 tonnes of straw.
“We are in and out quickly, and it is much safer when unloading the straw; we only drop the side that we are unloading rather than having to remove all the straps as you would with a traditional bale trailer, so there is no risk of pushing a bale off the other side.”
When loading, the far side remains closed, but is dropped back 300mm to allow space to load the bales four straight up at a time, giving eight stacks of four. The sides are then pulled up and squeezed to compress the load ready for transport.
Once loaded, the sides support the load and anti-check valves keep them in place in the event of a hose failure. Little maintenance is required, and Mr Brandreth comments that the two-pack paint has stood up to the workload well over the last four years, especially considering that the trailers are stored outside for much of the year.
“We can move more than 500 bales in a day, which is useful in catchy weather or at busy periods,” says Mr Brandreth.
“It is a nice way to move more bales, and we feel it is important to give a good impression to the public when we are travelling on the road. Not only is it safe, it also looks safe. Staines were one of the first to develop this type of trailer but there are now a few more on the market, so there is obviously plenty of interest.”
Mr Brandreth comments that the trailers represent a substantial investment compared to a standard bale trailer, so purchasers do need the workload to justify them.
Expansion to the business into high sugar ryegrass and Lucerne for drying, aimed at the lucrative racehorse feed trade, will extend the carting season in 2021 and make even more use of the trailers for the farm.
Devon-based Staines Trailers has developed a bale trailer designed to tackle the problem of transporting large quantities of bales any distance, as project manager Des Thorpe explains:
“The Hydraulic Bale Door trailer came about when a customer came to us asking for a bale trailer with hydraulic sides which would clamp the bales and prevent movement. He was looking to move large loads short distances and the time taken to strap and unstrap the load was not economical.”
Models are available from 7.3 metres to 11m, capable of transporting from 18 Hesstons stacked three high to 52 mini Hesstons stacked four high, depending on model.
Prices range from £13,721 for a 7.3m basic spec with steel floor and 10 stud commercial axles.
Capacity: 22 tonnes
Body length: 7.3 to 11 metres
Suspension: Commercial parabolic monoleaf
Axles: Commercial 10 stud axles (refurbished) c/w 420mm by 180mm brakes
Standard tyre: 285/65/R22.5 super singles
Brakes: Hydraulic as standard; ratchet commercial parking brake
Standard equipment: Headboard, strap box storage, rear wheel mudflaps, rigid drawbar, 3mm steel checkerplate floor
Lighting: Full road legal lighting kit