Caring For Livestock

posted on Monday, January 3, 2022 in Blog


Even though it isn’t a hard thing to do, we’ve moved enough bales in our time to know it’s worth reviewing how to do it the right way.

There’s more to knowing how to spear large round bales the right way than meets the eye.

Using bale spears to handle large round bales can be an everyday job in a lot of livestock operations. From transporting to storing to feeding, operators need to pick ‘em up and put ‘em down frequently. 


Tip 1When planning to transport round bales using both the loader-mount and 3-point bale spears, always lift the rear bale first, and drop it last. That way you’ll always have sufficient rear ballast.

The HS2001 Bale Spear will handle a single large round bale weighing up to 2200 pounds (998 kg). To use it properly, raise the 3-point hitch so the primary tine is level with the ground, and insert the primary tine above the center point of the bale.

Because you can’t tilt the 3-point hitch, it’s important to spear large round bales a bit higher above the center point than you would with a loader mount bale spear.

Once speared and raised, the rear bale will tend to angle slightly away from the 3-point hitch. So it’s very important to drive the spear well into the bale, keeping as much bale weight as close to the hitch as possible, while the spear remains virtually level..

Tip 2
 The AB12G Loader-Mount Bale Spear will spear large round bales weighing up to 2500 pounds (1,134 kg). To spear that bale properly, raise the loader and tilt the carrier so the primary tine is roughly level with the ground. Then move forward and insert the primary tine just above the center point of the bale.

With the bale spear tilted back so the bale sits at a slight angle, more of its weight is carried primarily on the back of the spear and the loader carrier, and not all on the bale spear itself, making transport more secure.

Now, here’s the most important tip.
After you’ve inserted the tines into the bale, stop and tilt the carrier back before raising the loader and bale for transport.

If you’re in a hurry and find yourself in the habit of moving forward before you raise the loader, you’ll be scraping that bale on the ground. By doing that, you can tear the bale wrap or bale twine, loosening the bale, which will lead to lower quality hay.

Think of it this way. You’ve probably spent a lot of time and money growing the hay, mowing, raking, maybe tedding and raking again, then baling and wrapping. Take a couple extra seconds per bale to spear, tilt, and lift, and you’ll have the highest quality hay you can produce when you need it most 

How To Handle Large Round Bales

Handling large round bales takes skill, as well as the right bale-handling equipment for the job. Depending on what you need to do, you might need a loader-mount bale spear, a 3-point bale spear, a bale squeeze, or a bale unroller. Or even some combination of all four to get your work done right, and right now.

We’ll focus on using a Frontier Bale Unroller to unroll a large round bale in a pasture to serve as feed for the landowner’s cattle. We’ll also use a Frontier AB13G 3-point Bale Spear and show you how to get a large round bale into a round livestock feeder. Each tool will be handling large round bales weighing about 2500 pounds (1133.98 kg).

Putting a round bale in a round feeder.

Some people like to use a bale spear and loader to lift a round bale into a round livestock feeder. But there’s a good chance you can damage the spear, the loader, the feeder, or all three by doing it that way.

We think we have a better idea. After removing the bale wrap, set the bale on the ground and then lift the livestock feeder over the top of the bale by hand. No risk of damaging any equipment that way. Plus, it’s fast. It’s easy. And it works every time.

Front Back Loader

roll bale

Unrolling a large round bale.

Once you reached the location where you want to unroll the bale, set the parking brake, put the transmission in neutral, exit the operator station, and while the bale is still elevated, remove the bale wrap. Then, after returning to the operator station and fastening the seat belt, lower the bale to the ground and set the 3-point hitch to float. Since the 3-point doesn’t exert any down pressure, your bale unroller will now float along the surface of the ground. and the bale unrolling action will be drive by ground contact. It’s important to make sure the bale is positioned correctly in the unroller, so it actually unrolls as you move forward.

While you maneuver back and forth in a parallel pattern, the bale unroller allows the bale to unroll smoothly. Always remember to lift the bale off the ground when making turns

When you’re all done, you’ll have a nice layer of feed for your livestock.

Clean Up Manure In A Pen Or Pasture

At a cow/calf operation anywhere, they consistently maintain numerous heads of cattle. Sometimes, those cattle are held in pens. Sometimes, they’re on pasture. Both are places where manure will build up around feeding areas, creating a potential breeding ground for flies, and raising the risk for diseases in cattle.

The key to this process is to be careful not to scrape too deep.

The base of a cattle pen is made up of 3 layers:

  • A top layer of manure
  • A middle layer of soil and manure combination
  • And a bottom layer of compacted soil

The idea is to scrape off just the top layer of manure. This will promote faster drying of the remaining material and protect the base layers from being damaged.

When you clean up manure, it’s also important to drag it away from the under the fence. Manure left under fences can act as a dam, trapping water, and creating a breeding ground for flies.

A compact tractor and materials bucket make a great package for scraping manure away from the edges of the pen and then scooping it up and dumping in a composting pile.

That manure is about 90% water. As the water evaporates, the manure dries out, and the pile shrinks. When it’s dry enough, the property owner will spread it on his pasture areas as fertilizer with a manure spreader.

Okay. Let’s move out to the pasture where the same manure build-up problem happens around feeding areas. 

Cattle are fed from these bunks made from old tractor tires that were placed in a pasture. Now there’s an awful lot of manure in about a 25-30 yard (23 – 27.4 m) radius from the feeding site that has to be piled, composted and removed or it will smother the pasture’s ability to grow vegetation.

The same sort of technique for cleaning up manure in the pens applies here as well. Focus on scraping off a top layer all over this manure-covered area, and pile it all together.

After about 45 minutes, this manure pile has grown to about 12-feet wide by 25-feet long by 8-feet high (3.7m x 7.6m x 2.4m). And once it’s dried out, that giant pile of manure will go a long, long way toward covering a pasture in what we like to call “nutrient gold.”

Then another one will spring up in its place somewhere else. And as they say, the beat goes on.

lifting manure

How To Use A Manure Fork

A manure fork might not be a tool that everyone needs. But if you have livestock, then you’ve got manure. And in the world of horses and horse owners, that probably means some of that manure is in hay, on the floor, in your barn.

Well that’s just the problem a manure fork is designed to solve.

A John Deere 1025R Compact Utility Tractor and manure fork package is perfect for working in a tight space like in and out of a horse stall. 

The key to using a manure fork in this setting is to run the tines as close to the ground or barn floor surface as possible. Outdoors, you might even penetrate the surface. Just be careful not to disturb any foundation base layer in the stall or barn.

Make sure the weight of the material is as centered as possible on the bottom and close to the back of the fork. Before lifting, make sure the fork is completely under the load and tilted back slightly.

You should also decide exactly where you want to dump each load before you start. Ideally, you’ll put it in a compost pile nearby, so you can let it decompose until it’s ready to spread on your pasture, your garden, or to share with your neighbors. When it comes to fertilizer, there’s really nothing better than properly composted manure.

ending photo

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