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TheFastMan
Frequent Contributor

Educate me on round balers

I do not currently own a round baler, but after the misfortune I had this year trying to get other folks to bale my two fields, I have started looking very seriously at buying one for next season. Saying that, I'll admit I'm not very well versed in round balers. So, I'll lay the groundwork and maybe someone can give me some direction. I'm looking to do 4x5 bales. Twine is fine, but net wrap would be a plus. I'd be running it with my 55hp John Deere. I'm looking at spending at most $4000 I figure. I've been looking at older New Hollands, New Idea 484s, some older John Deeres and some older Vermeers. I was also wondering about chains versus belts. Most of these older New Hollands have chains. Also, whats the big difference between hydraulic tie versus electric tie or New Holland Auto-Wrap? I'll have more questions later I'm sure. Any help is greatly appreciated!

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9 Replies
Buc10
Veteran Contributor

Re: Educate me on round balers

If you only want to spend $4000, you won't get net wrap. If you can find a JD 430 or 435 they are a good baler. NH 644 will do silage, if it is a silage special. Spend some more money and get one with net wrap. It will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

 

Buck

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cowfarmer
Senior Contributor

Re: Educate me on round balers

had a 430 deere it was more reliable than my brand new deere. It was a great baler and I am a red guy. I will tell you though that the upkeep can be spendy, chains, sprockets, belts they all break so just know that going in.

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TheFastMan
Frequent Contributor

Re: Educate me on round balers

Thanks for the input. It seems like I could get a used 430 or 435 from a private seller for around $4000 (there is one on Craigslist right now for that much near me), but not from a dealer. I don't really need a silage special. The guy who was round baling for did use net wrap (a newer New Holland) and I like it. I just had another guy bale for me on Saturday and his was twine from a JD 456. I have seen some older New Hollands advertised as net wrap in my price range. What do you guys think about older Deeres like the 400, 410, 500 or 510? I will definitely keep my eye out for 430s or 435s.

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nwobcw
Advisor

Re: Educate me on round balers

   I have a 1996 JD 435.  It's the only round baler I have ever used.  '96 was the last year for that model.  I paid 11K 7 years ago for it.  I just had my 1st problem with it.  Have to rebuild a hydraulic cylinder.  I seriously doubt if 55 HP will utilize it's full potential.  When you have a 7 or 800# pound bale slinging around in the chamber it makes a 100HP tractor know it's got something behind it baling at 7-8 mph.  The net wrap option was 5K back then.  This year 4x5 hay bales are weighing 700#.  Straw was 513#.  If you are out in hay country prices may be different but you're looking at $9500 and up here.

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Caseih7130
Veteran Reader

Re: Educate me on round balers

A couple of points before you get into this. First off I have tried baling 4X5 bales with a 55hp tractor and a Hesston baler many years ago and it will pretty much kill your 55hp tractor esp. if you have to work on hills. I have a NH 644 and I would not run this baler on any less than 85hp. If I were you I would be looking at a 4X4 baler I think it would serve you better and would be cheaper i.e. NH 630. The trick to buying a used baler esp. at the age you are looking at is how it was stored. A baler stored inside is worth way more than one that was stored outside. Belts are expensive and if they are exposed to weather you can plan on changing them. Most other components are also affected by moisture i.e. tying motors on electric tie balers, bearings, and chains. Like I mentioned we have a NH 644 we have baled 2500 bales a year with for the last 15 years and never changed a belt, or chain we did change two bearings on it. We purchased a used NH 648 which is newer than a 644 as a spare last year. It was stored outside and we have since changed every belt on it. We knew this before we purchased it and this was reflected in the purchase price. I am a fan of the NH auto wrap but the electric tie balers are good as well. The Deere or NH will serve you well if they are in good condition. Happy Baler hunting!   

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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: Educate me on round balers

We have a 4X4 OMC round baler, the one with the rollers instead of the belts.  I would think 55HP would be the minimum on fairly level ground, 65-70HP if you were running on any kind of hills.  Many/most balers, especially the older ones had a low HP option of some sort.  With our OMC, it was a different drive sprocket.  Basically, it geared the baler down, so it would pull easier, and I think 55 HP would be OK on rolling ground, if it wasn't too steep.

Do you want a fixed chamber, or variable chamber?  Our OMC, some New Idea, and I think a Hesston & IH baler were available as a fixed chamber.  They didn't work the tractor so hard, as they only packed the last 20% or so of the bale.  Hay quality is actually quite good, and you can bale the hay a bit wetter, and not get mold in the hay.  The downside is the bales aren't as dense (lighter) and if you don't feed most of your hay over the winter, they don't keep as well over the summer as the solid-core bales do.

The fixed chamber balers are simpler mechanically, as they don't need the mechanism that varies the chamber size as the bale grows.  Easier to fix, and maintain, as there is just less to it. 
The drawbacks include more drive chains to watch, and you always seem to end the field with a part bale in the baler.  Until the bale starts packing, you more or less just have a lump.

Our OMC uses rollers instead of belts, a very durable design.  Ours has over 100,000 bales through it, and while we have welded rollers up, as well as cracks here and there, but have never replaced a roller.  Replaced the cam in the pickup 4 or 5 times, the hinge where the pickup attatches at least 3 times, and more teeth than I can count, but I am confident I can hitch to it, and make a bale with it tomorrow.  Has surprising capacity for such an old baler, and can be bought cheap, cheap, cheap. (under $2000 for a field-ready one)   Beware the 595  has a weak gearbox, get either a 590 (4 X 4 bale) or a 596 (5X6 bale).  Roller style balers can sometimes have trouble forming a bale in slick straw or certain types of prarie hay.  Twine tie is by hydraulic cylinder.  You need two remotes to bale, one for the bale gate, one for the tie.  If you only have one remote, you can replace the cylinder with a rope & spring.  I've used it, and while primitive, it does work. Bale weight on the 4X4 runs just under 600# 

My brother has a New Idea fixed-chamber baler.  It uses belts instead of rollers to form the bale.  It seems to save a few more leaves than the roller type, and can bale straw more easily.  The belts aren't nearly as durable as the rollers, and the bearings seem not as robust as the OMC, but has been good to him overall, considering its age and what he gave for it.  These also have surprising capacity.  Twine tie is electric.  The newer ones can be had with netwrap.  I've seen twine tie ones in the 4X4 or 4X5 size in decent shape from $2500-$3000, netwrap from $3000 to $4000.  4X4 bales weigh about #600 or just over.

 

My other brother has a CaseIH RBX 460.  It is a variable-chamber baler.  It really doesn't have much more capacity through the throat than either the OMC or New Idea balers, but the twine tie & bale dump cycle is notably quicker.  Bales are 4' wide and can be anywhere from 3 to 6' tall.  A 4X5 bale runs right at 900#.  This machine would probably be out of your price range, a good one starting around $6000.   One advantage of the variable camber size is you can always tie off a 'baby' bale at the end of the field, to empty out the baler.  It also seems to be able to bale hay or straw no matter how slick it gets, and is surprisingly good at saving leaves in dry hay, which is good as it needs to cure a little dryer than the soft-core bales of the fixed chamber baler to keep well.

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TheFastMan
Frequent Contributor

Re: Educate me on round balers

I guess I'd like a variable chamber, but I guess I could go either way. Is there a way to tell what balers are variable versus fixed? I guess I'll start looking for 4x4 balers now, too. The fields I would be doing are mostly flat. Some slight hills on some. That's something I didn't think of! I'll be doing mostly just grass hay and maybe some straw or alfalfa in the future, so I think belts would be better for me. I plan on adding a 12 volt selector valve to my tractor, so I could really go with hydraulic or electric tie, though I think I would prefer electric. I've been eyeballing New Idea 483s now, does anyone know if these are fixed or variable chamber? Is there any place I could look up specs on older equipment like this?

 

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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: Educate me on round balers

The variable-chamber balers will have a belt tensioning mechanism, usually spring loaded (but somethimes hydrualic or even ari) built into them.  There needs to be a way to keep the belt tight as the bale changes shape.  The fixed chamber balers will simply have 'gangs' of belts that don't move around. 

For doing mostly grass hay, shy away from the roller type fixed chamber balers.  I threw that out there because if you have mostly alfalfa hay, and maybe 50-75 cows, the one we had that made 4X4 bales would be more than adequate, cheap to buy, and easy to maintain.  Grass hay gets too slick when dry, and you have to wait for a little dew so the rollers have enough traction to keep the bale turning.  However, they are durable as heck, and you don't have to worry if you run a small stick into the baler, that it will throw a belt off track.

The New Idea belt-style fixed chamber balers will bale about anything any other baler will, as far as slick grass & straw.  I don't remember what the model numbers were for each baler, but a quick internet search should take care of that.  Using both the fixed and variable-chamber belt style balers, the biggest advantage of the soft-core fixed chamber style is the ability to bale higher moisture hay without mold, and they only pull hard on the last 1/4 or so of the bale, as it packs, giving your tractor a 'rest' so it doesn't run hot.  Biggest disadvantage is your field never seems to end exactly as a bale is formed.  You can 'fudge' a little, packing the last 2-3 bales a little more or less to try to get it to come out, though.

Variable chamber - biggest advantage is you can make bales of different sizes.  If the bales are a little heavy for your tractor, just make them a little smaller.  We have a 4 wide by 6 tall one now, and we can make bales from 3 to 6 feet tall, depending on what we want to do.  I like making straw bales small, as we use them a lot for bedding, hay  for our own use bales are about 4 1/2 feet tall, and bales for sale can be made to match what the customer wants.  If you are hauling them any distance, the bigger the bales, the more weight you can usually get on a load.

We've had both hydraulic and electric tie, and here's my opinion on it:

Hydraulic tie - simple, reliable.  As long as your tractor hydraulics work, so does the tie.  Can be difficult to get the twine arm speed set just right as it uses an adjustable needle valve in the line to vary hydraulic flow to the cylinder that runs the arm.  As your hydraulics warm up, the arm moves faster.  Usually, I would just bump the lever to move the arm a little at a time.

Electric tie - MUCH easier to adjust arm speed, as there is an adjustment right on the monitor for that.  Can be a little bit frustrating on an older baler, as your electrical connections age, usually at the plug in the harness between the baler and tractor.  Does save needing another hydraulic on the tractor, though.

 

Advice for hills if your tractor is underpowered - rake with the contour if you can.  If you can't, when the baler gets fuller, and heavier, turn around into the next windrow so you are going downhill, then after you dump the bale, go uphill while the baler is lighter and easier to pull.

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Ollie1983
Frequent Contributor

Re: Educate me on round balers

I have to say I have only ever worked a big Welgar round baler, the predesscor to the RP535 at it is by far the most beastly thing you have ever seen in the round bale world, working side by side with a guy using a JD round baler highlyighted its appetite and ability to produce denser bales of whatever size you wanted. Fully recommend but not sure if you get them over there.

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