A Bale Baron small bale accumulator has increased a Canterbury Contractor’s options.
Kieran Watson and Bob and Mike Searle run Searle Contracting from a base at Hororata. They recently introduced small baling into the operation.
Searle Contracting had focused on large bales – both rounds and squares – but received many enquiries about small squares.
“We didn’t do them because we didn’t want to physically handle the bales. It took up too much time and labour.” Kieran says.
That was the state of affairs for many years, until Ryan Bassett from NC Equipment (formally North Canterbury Equipment) floated the idea of getting a Bale Baron.
Bale Baron accumulators are made by Canadian company Marcrest. They pick up small square bales from the paddock, accumulate them into groups and tie them into a big pack of nine, 18 or 21. They eliminate backbreaking labour and do the job fast.
Searle Contracting leased a machine from North Canterbury Equipment while they waited for the latest model. Then, in December 2019, they became the owner of a new Bale Baron 5250P.
Bale Baron offers several different models. Kieran considered a version that is towed behind the baler, but decided it would be too long for lifestyle blocks.
Instead, he chose the 5250P, which tows directly behind the tractor, because it gave them more options.
For one, they expect demand to increase, and if they get a second square baler, the 5250P will have no trouble keeping up with both.
Searle Contracting’s small square baler makes about 500 bales per hour in good conditions, whereas the Bale Baron can bundle 1000.
“We could send the balers away in the morning and have a few thousand on the ground before we send the Bale Baron to catch up.”
It also gives them the option to take the Bale Baron out on its own to pack up bales made by others.
Kieran has used it mostly on hay and straw bales. He has also used it as he has experimented with haylage.
“I was quite surprised how well the haylage turned out. Now we have trialled it and fed it out on our farm, it is something we can consider promoting wider.”
It is simple to change the size of the bundles that the Bale Baron 5250P makes. It takes just five minutes to move four pins and change the setting in the computer.
For haylage, Kieran makes a nine-pack, otherwise it is an 18-pack. With nine-packs, he can make haylage and wrap the bundle with a medium square wrapper.
“It makes it easier to stack small bales in sheds. The 18-packs are 6 ft-long, so two packs side-by-side stack away tidily in a 14 ft-wide shed.”
Kieran moves three 18-packs at a time with bale forks. That amounts to 54 small bales at a time, and they can load 500 bales on a trailer in less than 20 minutes. How long would it take to load them on a truck by hand?
“You never have to touch a pack, and we are less affected by the weather,” he says.
Searle Contracting has a lot of big tractors, but Kieran says it is hydraulic oil flow, not horsepower, that is the issue with the Bale Baron.
Their 210-hp tractor has 160 litres/min oil flow, which allows them to run the Bale Baron at maximum capacity, or even to use it behind a baler if they decide to get creative later on.
The new 5250P model was worth waiting for. It is ISOBUS connected, so it is easy to swap between tractors.
It only needs greasing once a season, the front wheel stance is wider so it is more stable, the knotters tie off faster and smoother, and the panelling allows better access.
“The twine boxes pivot open, so you can practically walk in there. It is simple to learn to use, like an easy baler without the pick-up. Most of the time we use it in auto mode,” Kieran says.
It has been a great investment and it has given Searle Contracting a new service to develop.
“In the first year, we didn’t know how it was going to go, but clients love the idea. It has given us the confidence that we can potentially get a second baler.”
More people than expected are interested. It is not just the horse owners and lifestyle blocks. Even customers who traditionally take larger bales have asked for some small bales. Lucerne bales are particularly in demand.
Kieran says the service from NC Equipment has been great.
“Connor Moriarty from their service team is a specialist in Bale Barons. If they need to, they contact the factory directly and get a fast reply.”
There is also a Facebook group for Bale Baron owners from all over the world.
“Any niggles, write it up and someone gives an answer within an hour – anything you can think of. It’s bloody good.”
The Bale Baron 5250P allows Searle Contracting to offer a complete baling service. They provide whatever size bale the client wants, without breaking a sweat.
NC Equipment distributes the Bale Baron range in both the North and South Islands. Phone 0800 908 908 to find out about a demonstration in your area.