Advice, tips & news for farmers who want to 'work smarter'

The true value of a wrapped bale handler

Posted by Sam Searle on Jan 16, 2019 8:06:56 AM

We all know rips and tears on wrapped silage bales are bad and lead to decreased feed value, with extreme cases rendering the bale useless as aerobic spoilage and mold growth makes it too dangerous to feed out.

But just how much do rips and tears on silage bales cost our farmers? Read on to find out!

In some research trials conducted by the agriculture and food development authority of Ireland, they found one small 3mm hole per bale resulted in an 8% loss of edible silage, while one large 24mm hole lead to the bale feed value being reduced by 30%

Admittedly there are a large range of factors that can cause bale wrap damage ranging from animals and storage methods to wrap quality itself, but the hole sizes described above are more than possible with an inferior bale handler. This means using the wrong bale handler can devalue your bales anywhere from 8% to making the bale completely unusable over time!

Using forks and spikes to move wrapped bales has always been a no-no on many farms, but even purpose built wrapped bale handlers that aren't up to the job can cause damage too, which is why if your looking at purchasing a purpose built bale handler, you should make your decision based on the handlers ability to successfully move your wrapped bales without tearing, stretching or pinching the wrap.

The cost of rips and tears on wrapped silage bales

First lets start with the average value of a silage bale, in New Zealand this generally ranges anywhere from $75 to $125 per bale depending on the time of year, quality of the bale and geographic location among other factors.

This means inferior bale handlers can reduce a silage bales value by $8 to $30 from a small 3mm hole!

Note: we will use an average bale value of $100 to work with in our examples as well as an average bale value decrease of 10% from inferior bale handler damage.

For a farmer that handles 800 bales per year this can amount to $80,000 worth of wrapped silage bales! if by using a bale handler that leaves minor rips that go unnoticed this farmer could lose an estimated 10% of his bale feed value, this represents a loss of $8,000 in one year or $40,000 over 5 years by handling bales with an attachment not up to the job.

But lets take this to some real life examples and see what the value of a Rata Bale Clamp has been for some farms by handling wrapped silage bales without tearing, ripping or stretching bale wrap.

Rogan Borrie | North Otago


Rogan Borrie has 8 farms across the North Otago region and has used Rata Bale Clamps to handle his bales for a number of years, Rogan recently took delivery of his third set to handle a growing number of bales. Up until December 2018 his original two sets of Rata Bale Clamps had handled 80,000 wrapped silage bales! Look at the numbers below and see how important it is for Rogan to ensure whatever wrapped bale handler he uses is up to the job.

Number of bales handled with Rata Bale Clamps: 80,000

Estimated value of bales handled: $8,000,000

This means Rogan has potentially saved $800,000 of feed by using a bale handler that does not rip or tear bales!

Check out the bale handler Rogan chooses here


Stratford Farms | South Canterbury


Stratford Farms also have multiple sets of Rata Bale Clamps they use to handle their seasons worth of wrapped silage bales each year, Stratford Farms produce about 4,000 individual wrapped bales per year for use in their Dairy farms. See the figures below to understand why Stratford farms ensure they use the best bale handler.

Number of bales handled with Rata Bale Clamps: 4,000/ season

Estimated value of bales handled: $400,000/ season

This means Stratford Farms potentially save $40,000 of feed value each year by using a bale handler that does not rip or tear bales!

See the bale handler Stratford Farms use here


Rata softhands bale clamp for handling wrapped silage bales

The Rata Bale Clamp is designed to handle the weight of two high density silage bales without ripping, tearing or stretching the bale wrap!!




Note sure what bale handler is best for you? Read: Choosing the right bale handler for your farm

The bale handler that moves bales without rips or tears: Rata Bale Clamp



Topics: Bale Handling & Storage, Silage Making Tips, attachments