Jul 8, 2011
by WLJ

Choosing the right hay trailer for you

When a farmer or rancher has to clear fields of round hay bales before moisture ruins them, there’s nothing that does the job like a hay trailer. But what kind is best for you? That depends on your equipment (tractor or pick up), your use (bale size, quantity, and labor), and your budget.

If you’ve got enough tractors and labor, and would like to minimize the up front cost of a trailer, then traditional inline, self-unloading hay trailers are a good choice. These trailers typically load bales with a tractor’s hayforks from the rear, until the trailer’s cradle is full. When the trailer reaches its destination, a lever is pulled and the hay bales are rocked then rolled off the cradle by gravity.

If a farmer or rancher is choosing a traditional inline, selfunloading hay trailer, there are two questions they need to ask: 1) How reliable do I want the trailer to be, and 2) How long do I want it to last?

For those hauling less hay, for less time, and lighter bales, a typical trailer will do. Still, if you don’t want your hay trailer in the repair shop when it’s time to bring in the bales, it’s important to look for at least a few quality features.

For instance, it’s best to choose a trailer with a frame at least 5’ wide. Many inline hay trailers only use a 4’ wide frame to save on freight shipping cost. But sitting a 6’ wide bale on top of a 4’ wide trailer frame makes a load more top heavy and less stable. This becomes a problem on fields filled with berms, terraces, gopher holes and ditches. Too often, when narrow trailers hit a ditch, the whole load is dumped.

With many trailers, hauling 6,000-12,000 pounds of bales per load, choose a trailer with a double latch system, since latches hold the load in place until it’s ready to dump. Single latch trailers are prone to tearing the sidewall off the main tube over time, which can require cutting off the latch, regrinding, and rewelding. A double latch system cuts the latches’ metal fatigue in half as bale weight is dispersed, improving safety and reliability. A linkage between the latches also allows them to operate with only one lever.

For heavy bale loads, more loads, long use, consider a hay trailer that’s built to last. Besides an extra wide 5’ frame and double latches, trailers such as the Red Rhino or the Competitor Bale Handler from GoBob Pipe and Steel use more steel in the cradle, neck, axles, main tube and rail supports.

Since the main tube is the backbone of the hay trailer, some are built heavier than other manufacturers. Typical hay trailers use 8” square .188 wall tubing or 8 5/8” OD .250 wall. Rail supports are also critical because they carry most of the bale weight and should be made of more steel.

Since bale capacity can determine how many trips you have to make to clear the field, it’s important to consider this as well. Hay trailers typically range from 21’-40’ long, with a 32’ trailer carrying about six to eight bales. When capacity is a concern, it might make sense to consider some of the larger inline hay trailers which can haul nine to 11 bales at once.

Farmers or ranchers wanting the speed and convenience of staying in their tractor or pick up while loading or unloading bales should consider self-loading/unloading hay trailers like the Koyker Round Bale Transport 7000 or GoBob’s 2EZ Bale Mover. With these hydraulically operated trailers, it’s a one-person operation that doesn’t take physical strength. If they choose a pick up-capable version, it doesn’t even require a tractor.

For more info, call 877/851-2365 or visit