Feeding livestock takes time, especially when using large numbers of round bales. With the feeding season about to get under way, we take a look at the bale shear options available to Irish farmers to make things a little easier over the winter months.
Farmers using bale shears quote time savings in the region of 50% to 60% compared to traditional feeding methods.
Another major benefit is not having to leave the tractor or loader cab and, therefore, the further benefit of staying clean and dry.
Cashels Engineering in Mayo offers its bale cutter and film catcher range, comprising 4ft and 5ft models. The latter is more suited to export markets where larger diameter bales are more common.
Cashels’ design includes a curved frame for a larger opening area to handle bales up to 1.35m (4ft model) and 1.6m (5ft model) in diameter. Cashels says it has the capability to shear through bales with 10t of pressure, for the toughest of frozen bales.
The film/net-retaining mechanism differs from most competitors in that there are four hooks mounted in a single row across the machine as opposed to a jaw-like mechanism. These hooks are operated using a hydraulic sequencing valve, which engages and disengages as the blade is opened and closed.
The serrated cutting blade is double-edged and made using Hardox steel. An optional meal bucket attachment is available, which is retained on the tines via a spring-loaded pin. The option of fitting additional tines on the outer sides is also available.
Excluding brackets, the 4ft model weighs 400kg, while the larger 5ft model weighs 460kg. A range of bolt-on brackets is available. The 4ft model starts at €3,650 plus VAT.
ProDig Attachments, based in Co Carlow, offers a number of attachments suited to feeding silage bales including its Megabite shear grab and Shear Genius shear bucket with film/net-retaining devices.
However, new for this year is the Pro Slice standalone bale shears for those only feeding bales or those requiring a cheaper alternative to its multipurpose options.
The Pro Slice is compatible with all bales from 1.2m (4ft) to 1.5m (5ft). As standard, the unit is fitted with five 985mm (39in) tines but is bushed for an additional two tines.
The device uses three pairs of jaw-like clamps and works via a hydraulic sequencing valve. It is built using Hardox and Domex plate steel, as well as heat-treated blades for a long wear life.
A range of bolt-on brackets is available for each. The Pro Slice weighs 452kg and is priced at €4,000 plus VAT including brackets.
Tanco first offered its bale shears in the winter of 2008, namely the i70. The Carlow manufacturer later developed the i73, which had the capability of handling slightly larger bales. This was also a requirement for the European market at the time. The i73 is designed to handle round bales of up to 1.55m in diameter.
The Tanco system is designed to retain the plastic using a patented gripping mechanism that holds the plastic without piercing it. Once the bale is discharged and the rams have been fully opened, the sequence valve will release the pressure from the clamp holding the plastic.
The i73 is only designed for use with round bales, but Tanco also manufactures an i75 Multishear, which can be used to feed out bales and pit silage. Weighing in at 380kg (excluding brackets), the machine also comes with the option of a quick-attach bucket and bolt-on brackets to suit any headstock. A range of bolt-on brackets is available. The i73 is priced at €4,100 plus VAT, while the i75 is €5,750 plus VAT.
Austrian manufacturer Goweil offers its round bale slicer (RBS). It is designed to be operated either on the tractor’s three-point linkage or via a telehandler or front-end loader.
The RBS uses eight hooks to hold and retain the film and net while the bale is being cut.
The hooks are operated using a hydraulic sequencing valve, which engages and disengages as the blade is opened and closed. The cutting and retaining operation is controlled using a double-acting valve.
A standard RBS encompasses five 1m reinforced tines and a double-edged serrated Hardox cutting blade. Weighing in at 440kg, the unit is designed to handle 1.4m and 1.5m round bales, meaning it can’t be used to feed out pit silage.
The Cooney Furlong Machinery Company in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, imports and distributes the Goweil range. Fitted with brackets to suit, the unit is priced at €4,200 plus VAT.
Keltec Engineering first developed its bale shears in 2008. The Limerick manufacturer’s design works in a slightly different fashion to others. The Kilmallock firm’s shear pinches and holds the bale’s wrap and net on the top of the bale, while the cutting blade slices from the bottom upwards.
Once the bale is cut within 18in of the top of the frame, the sequencing valve is initiated and the grippers begin to close. As the bale is being sliced, the silage falls away from the wrap and net. This unit is solely designed to handle round bales, but Keltec also offers a combi shear, which can be used for both bales and pit silage.
The machine comes with the option of a meal feeding bucket. It features a double-edged Hardox cutting blade and seven reinforced tines, while the operation is controlled using a double-acting valve. Weighing in at 480kg (without brackets), the unit is priced at €3,650 plus VAT and comes with bolt-on brackets to suit.
Fastparts, based in Dublin, distributes the Shearman 1700 bale shear. Fastparts is a division of Farmhand, Irish importers of Krone, Amazone, Quicke, Zuidberg and APV.
The 1.7m Shearman 1700 comes fitted with six tines and is designed to retain film and net using four hooks instead of a jaw-like clamping mechanism. This operates via a hydraulic sequencing valve too, therefore only one double-acting service is required.
Unlike its competitors, it is fitted with bolt-on knife sections for easy replacement.
The Shearman is fitted as standard with weld-on Euro brackets although other brackets options are available. The unit weighs in at 540kg and is priced at €3,400 plus VAT.
Also offered by Farmhand is Quicke’s recently released new range of Silocut two-in-one attachments. These act as a shear grab for cutting silage from clamps and also splits bales while retaining the net/plastic, similar to what some Irish manufacturers offer. The range is available in three different models with various options, with prices starting from €4,500 plus VAT.
Rohan Engineering in Limerick has been manufacturing its bale slice for the past decade. The company claims to be the only manufacturer that offers a floating clamp, designed to handle irregular-shaped round bales.
Once a bale has been picked up, the floating clamp hinges on the same frame as the cutting blade, meaning both move parallel to one another. The clamp is loaded using a hydraulic sequencing valve, which engages and disengages as the blade is opened and closed.
This machine is designed for feeding 4x4 and 5x4 round bales, but Rohan also offers a combi unit for those after a hybrid pit and bale feeding option.
The Adare manufacturer uses a double-edged Hardox cutting blade on both machines.
For increased versatility, an optional bucket attachment is also available.
As standard, the unit is fitted with five tines but is bushed for up to seven tines if two additional tines are required.
The machine weighs in at 420kg (excluding brackets) and is supplied with brackets to suit any headstock. It is priced at €3,500 plus VAT.
Nugent Engineering, based in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, offers its bale cutter and wrap catcher through its dealer network. It features a curved frame for a larger opening angle to handle 4x4 round bales of silage. Across the width of the machine are serrated knife sections and six tines as standard.
The film/net-retaining device comprises two pairs of jaw-like hooks, which like its competitors are operated using a hydraulic sequencing valve. When the shears are closed, oil is diverted via the sequencing valve, engaging the hooks to catch the film/net.
Once the frame has been fully opened, the hooks release and let go of the film/net.
A range of bolt-on brackets are available to suit all headstocks. The Nugent bale shears weighs approximately 450kg and is priced at €3,350 plus VAT.