Canadian beef farmer finds affordable bale feeding solution to put more pounds on his herd with a 12% saving on hay
When they moved to a larger plot in Manitoba, David Karsin’s family decided to invest in a mounted Hustler Chainless LX105 bale processor to help with their purebred Simmental operation and discovered substantial hay savings.
“We went from just over 8 bales per animal per year to about 7-7.1, so it’s a huge saving for us.” A 12%+ saving is not to be sneezed at and David recommends them for any small or larger farm, adding “it’s just built rock-solid, easy maintenance and … very affordable.”
Watch David’s video to see what he thinks about his Hustler bale feeder mounted on a Kubota skid steer.
Karsin Farms Simmentals is based in the Central Plains Region of Manitoba, Canada, just outside of Portage la Prairie. According to Environment Canada, Portage la Prairie has the sunniest days during the warm months in Canada. David Karsin’s family farm is a small operation of 30-head purebred Simmental cattle. This breed of European (Swiss) origin is renowned for its good mothering instinct, a docile disposition, good beef quality and being a hardy animal.
David first discovered Hustler bale feeders during a visit to Winnipeg, the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba, about 75 kilometres (47 miles) to the east. “My son, Jonathan, looked it up and he thought this was a good idea so I ordered the Hustler from Saskatchewan,” David explained.
“It’s very easy to use, it’s simplistic and it’s very very well built”
For David, the main benefits of the Hustler Chainless bale feeder can be found in the machine’s design, “it’s very easy to use, it’s simplistic and it’s very very well built,” he said. As all members of the Karsin family have full-time jobs alongside the farm, they needed a machine that worked smoothly and that everyone could easily use, including David, his wife and their son Jonathan.
They also wanted to find a compact machine that would fit on their Kubota skid-steer loader, which is the only tractor on the farm as they use their skid-steer loader for all day-to-day chores. David is really pleased with the durability of his Hustler bale feeder, he has never had any problems so far while working every day in winter, and they “haven’t had to need anything, no parts or anything like that,” David said.
“The animals don’t trample the hay, they eat every last little scrap”
As David explains, the “top roller spins at three times the speed as the bottom roller and it teases the hay out so it’s not so concentrated, you can lay it in a straight line.” Unlike a bale processor that pulverizes the hay or a simple bale unroller that lay the hay into a thick mat cattle can easily trample, the Hustler Chainless bale feeder allows you to fluff up the forage. Then, the hay can be easily fed out in a trough or laid in a long and thin windrow.
The benefits of the windrow feeding method are multiple:
- the cattle don’t trample or lay in the hay as the windrow is not large enough to sound appealing
- all the animals have easy access to the feed
- the soil is not compacted as you can choose to feed in a new place every day
- the manure is spread out over large areas and isn’t concentrated
- the fluffed up hay is more palatable for the herd and is easier to eat for the young calves and the older animals you decided not to cull yet
David reckons that the Hustler Chainless bale feeder is also better than a hay ring/bale feeder/trough. “If you have the bale in the bale feeder, the cattle are pulling it out, they’re stepping on it and it just turns into a sloppy mess, whereas with the Hustler you can take it and unroll your bale wherever you want,” David detailed.
“The animals are actually eating the hay and getting the maximum amount of nutrition”
“By using the Hustler, as opposed to some of the other machines that are out there in the industry, the leaves stay. All the leaves and all the nutrients will stay there and it’s far more palatable to the actual cattle or whatever you’re feeding it out,” David continued.
Indeed, the Hustler Chainless bale feeder is aggressive enough to handle difficult bales, but is also gentle enough to avoid separating leaves from stems. This is one of the main advantages of this machine compared to a bale processor that tends to shred the forage. Sometimes shredding is the desired effect, but when you take care and spend time making (or buying) excellent quality hay, it’s a shame to waste all the nutrients by pulverizing it into small, short stems and grinding the leaves into powder.
“Once we started using the Hustler, we went from just over 8 bales per animal per year to about 7 – 7.1 bales”
And don’t get it wrong, long-stemmed hay is actually an excellent alternative. “You get more bang for your dollar because the animals are actually eating it and getting the maximum amount of nutrition,” David said.
When asked if the cows got easily used to the Hustler Chainless bale feeder, David answered amused that “the first few times we used the Hustler and the track loader the animals weren’t used to it, but once they realize that their food is being brought out, then they would actually chase it. There’s often a game of leapfrog going on to try and be the first one to eat it off the Hustler.”
As well as giving the cattle a higher nutritional intake, the Hustler has also saved David money on his feed. “Once we started using the track loader and more so the Hustler, we went from just over 8 bales per animal per year to about 7 – 7.1 bales. So it is a huge saving for us,” added David.
“It’s just built rock solid. Easy maintenance. And something else was that it was very affordable for us.”
The Hustler Chainless bale feeder is easy to accommodate on any farm/ranch size. The range offers mounted, trailed and stationary models in different sizes to fit any operation’s needs.
“I would recommend them to smaller or larger farms. It’s just built rock solid. Easy maintenance. And something else was that it was very affordable for us,” David concluded.