Why did 20,000-acre Canadian Ranch switch to quiet Hustler bale processor?

Published 11th December 2020

Clay Chattaway and his family have been caring for their Bar ‘S’ Ranch in Alberta, Canada for over a hundred years, and their Hustler Trailed Chainless TX205 bale processor (formerly the Chainless X5000 bale feeder) will help them continue to for many more.

In 1919, after the First World War, Clay Chattaway’s grandfather bought the plot of land they now call the Bar ‘S’ Ranch. Today, Clay has three sons, Scott, Chris and Morgan who all take an active part in the ranching operation. The Bar ‘S’ Ranch is a cow/calf yearling operation, spanning some 20,000 acres of rolling terrain, nestled in the Porcupine Hills near Nanton, South Alberta. For Clay, one of the best parts about ranching is the family aspect and watching subsequent generations join their mission. There are about 1,000 cows on the ranch, and about 1,000 more yearlings during the summer.

The elevation on the ranch can vary by 1,000-feet, and the Chattaways move cattle in accordance with their planned grazing system, using higher ground in summer and lower-elevation land during the winter. 

The Hustler’s Trailed Chainless bale feeder was particularly fit for the rugged terrain of the Bar ‘S’ Ranch. Designed with massive ground clearance, the Trailed Chainless TX205 bale feeder (formerly the Chainless X5000) comes with a clean chassis underside preventing damage to any essential parts. Thanks to its low center of gravity and wide wheel track, the Hustler Trailed Chainless bale feeder is also extremely stable during operation, adding extra safety and peace of mind.

As rotational grazing and regenerative principles play a large role in the Chattaway family’s operation, Clay needs to move his cattle every three to four days. At times the herd can be more than 5 miles away from the heart of the ranch, which means they often have to travel quite far to feed them, so the fact that the Trailed Chainless TX205 double bale feeder can easily carry two bales by itself, once you add one or two at the front of the tractor, this particular setup saves Clay and his family lots of round trips to the field.

Clay tries to use as little hay as possible, relying primarily on grass, but “we don’t always get the weather we’d like to have,” he says, “you have to have a fallback plan when you get a dump snow that the cattle can’t deal with, and this is when the Hustler comes into the picture.”

Preferring to move cattle with horses rather than quads or ATVs, Clay tries to minimize the number of machines on his ranch, but the Hustler bale feeder seems to be an essential piece of equipment that can’t be replaced! “The bigger stuff we had before was noisy, horribly noisy, and the strain on it was so bad you didn’t dare leave the building without a pocket full of shear pins,” Clay complained.

“The Hustler machine is simple and quiet and there isn’t a shear pin on it!”

The Hustler’s unique Chainless system is indeed a key advantage for reliability, lower maintenance and quieter operation. The teasing action of the rotors uses feed more economically compared to a traditional bale processor because it fluffs up the hay to make it more palatable and digestible for the cattle.  

The entire low-maintenance drive system of the machine is located at the rear. The outboard bearing blocks are easy to access and to grease, and the automatic drive tensioners require no adjustments.

“Maintenance-free is an efficiency that we’re always looking for and Hustler seems to be able to provide that. It looks like it will have a fairly long life.”

The Hustler’s Chainless system is also particularly fit for free-range, grass-fed or organic cattle or dairy operations. Feeding in a long, thin windrow (sometimes over a quarter mile) allow the cattle to easily access the feed, even for the animals at the bottom of the pecking order. Unlike feed pads or hay rings where the manure and urine are likely to ruin the soil and large amounts of hay, the Hustler Chainless bale feeder spreads out the nutrients across the whole pasture, preventing the risk of nutrient run-off and fertilizing the pasture at the same time.

For Clay, “the goal is to leave the land that I inherited in better shape than I got it in, and my kids are of the same frame of mind.” Rotational grazing and windrow feeding are the best management tools he can use to push the livestock to a new area every day. Operating holistically in this fashion, Clay gets two-fold positive effects of hoof-aeration (as opposed to soil compaction) and evenly distributed manure and urine which actually fertilize the forage rather than damaging them.

“If you look after the land, the land looks after you.”

Hustler Trailed Chainless Bale Feeders