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Make hay in the horse market
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Supplying feed and bedding straw for Britain's 1m horses and ponies is big business, offering diversification opportunities for contractors and farmers, Mike Williams reports on machines for re-baling Haylage, hay and straw.
BIG ROUND and square bales may be the most efficient way to clear large acreages quickly, but they are not ideal for stable yards, where the only mechanisation may be a pitchfork.
Conventional bales weigh less, but they are awkward to manhandle and the mess they leave in the back of the estate car may be unpopular with parents collecting a few bales for their children's pony.
Until recently, the popular packaging option for feed and bedding straw aimed at the equine market was mini-sized round bales. They contain about 20kg of hay or 15kg of straw and can be stretch-wrapped in film for weather protection and to reduce the mess factor.
The downside is slow baling and bale handling rates, and modern, big swaths may cause problems.
An alternative is using a special press to squeeze ordinary bales into small, high-density packs. John Thorne's Swardmaster press uses conventional bales - and the raw material for the Ken Mills Engineering press is big square bales, but both produce mini bales of hay, straw or Haylage in a sealed plastic bag.
John Thorne designed his press to pack Haylage produced on his 40ha (100-acre) farm at Woodhouse Eaves, Loughborough, Leics.
Designing and building the press was not a problem, as Mr Thorne owned an engineering company. It followed that, when the packs attracted interest from other horse feed suppliers, Mr Thorne decided to produce the press commercially.
Its price was between £15,000 and