Making the most of round bales

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 From the 350-acre Horton Wharf Farm, Slapton, near Leighton Buzzard, John Carnell and his son Neil supplement their precision-chopped silage requirements with round bales. And their baler of choice is a variable chamber Kubota BV 5160, supplied by George Browns.

“We’ve had this machine for a couple of seasons, and it’s performed very well,” says Neil. “Our preferred bale diameter is 1.28m, which lets us make the most of trailers, bale handling and stacking requirements.”

Aiming to make around 1,200 grass silage bales each year and a further 2,500 straw bales for use across the 180-cow herd plus young stock, beef cattle and dairy replacements, the Carnells call upon local arable growers for straw.

“As an all grass farm, we buy straw in the swath from local farmers, so getting the right bale size and density is important for haulage,” says Neil. “We also want tightly packed bales so we don’t waste net – or wrap, particularly when sealing in the goodness with round bale silage.”

He says the baler has recently had its second winter service, and has clocked up around 6-7,000 bales going into its third season.

“In a decent swath, you’ll get a great bale, with a good weight,” he adds. “We need the bales to be firm enough to handle and keep their shape, though we’ve found that we are better off not using the knives. The chopping element is extremely effective and silage bales can fall apart far too easily. With straw, the variable chamber baler gives us a harder outer layer, though the bales are easily unrolled when used for bedding.”

For the 2021 season, the farm has taken delivery of a Kubota M135GX-IV, which will be used for baling this season.

“It’s a sensible size tractor but with plenty of power,” says Neil. “I’m looking forward to seeing how it performs on the baler.”

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