As you consider purchasing your feeding equipment through one of our accredited dealers, this cost and pricing guide will help you develop an initial investment budget depending on the type of gear you need on your operation and plan for the ownership costs associated. Final prices will vary by location and independent dealer.
We understand that buying a bale processor is an important decision. Our goal is to empower you with honest and reliable bale processor cost information to help you find the bale processor that’s the right fit for you and your operation.
There are 3 types of bale processors:
There are a lot of options and add-ons that you can add or take away such as grain tanks, second choppers, blower spouts, extra bale capacity, etc. but typically you can expect to spend between $25,000 – $50,000 for a flail type bale processor depending on what options you need and which brand you chose. On the low end, you will have a fairly basic flail-type bale processor for round bales only and it may be a little lighter built with smaller tires but will still require a PTO to power it. On the higher end, you will have a PTO-driven bale processor that can handle both round and square bales and it will have a straw blower and maybe even a grain tank and extra grinder option on it.
This type of bale processor is great for throwing straw for bedding and for land reclamation and erosion control but farmers and ranchers are cautioned to use them on average to high-quality hay due to the high leaf loss and grain loss (most nutritious part of the plant) from the knives or flails.
There are 3 types of Chainless bale processors:
The Chainless Bale processor is one of the most versatile self-loading bale processors on the market with its capabilities to feed out round & square bales, balage and dry hay, large and small bales, and even the tightest of bales! This gives the rancher the opportunity to put up or buy in the most economical type of bales every year; you are not fixed to only being able to feed out just one type of baled forage. Often in drought years, many ranches must buy in hay and typically the most economical bales to ship are large square bales. Without a Chainless bale processor, many ranches are stuck with very labor-intensive feeding by hand.
As more and more ranches start testing out balage on their operations to retain more of the nutritional value of their hay, they need a way to feed it. You can’t just set out balage bales because as soon as they are exposed to oxygen they start to rot and mold and can be very toxic to livestock. A flail-type bale processor wasn’t designed to handle high-moisture hay and if you can force it to work it typically requires a lot of fuel and horsepower to get it fed out and can often damage the flail-type bale processor causing increased maintenance and depreciation costs.
Typically, Chainless bale processors price between $15,000 – $25,000.
On the low end, you will have your smaller 3-point Mounted Chainless Bale Processors that are designed to handle any 4’ wide round bale and any 3’ and 4’ wide square bale. For another $2,000 – $3,000 you can have that same 3-point Mounted Bale Processor converted over to a Loader Mounted Bale Processor. On the higher end of this price range you will have your self-loading, pull-type 2-bale Trailed Chainless Bale Processors which are designed to handle any and every bale from 4×4 round bales to 5×6 round bales and from 3×3 square bales up to 4x4x8 square bales.
The Chainless Bale Processors are a great fit for anyone who is wanting to implement Bio-Carpeting, which is a sustainable and regenerative way to reduce your feed costs and your cost-to-feed all while improving your soil health and pasture production, or for anyone feeding round bales, square bales, balage, or dry hay and wants to retain the nutritious leaf for their livestock.
There are 3 types of Chain or Unrolla bale processors:
The Chain or Unrolla Bale Processors are actually much simpler than they may sound. It’s designed for round bales only and uses 2 simple roller chains connected by crossbars with teeth on them. These chains are powered by a hydraulic motor that drives the “axle” which they run on and it simply spins the round bale and the teeth dig in and flick the hay off the side. They can handle dry hay and balage but are really limited to round bales only and can struggle to take a very tight bale down to a very small core. One thing that many farmers and ranchers have done is also use the Unrolla Bale Processors to load up loose products such as silage or grain which allows you to top-dress the windrow of hay or balage that it just fed out.
Typically, chain or Unrolla Bale Processors price between $11,000 – $19,000.
On the low end of that you will get your simple self-loading, 3-point mounted Unrolla LX105 which is great for smaller operations or operations with a tight budget. They will handle any size round bale up to a 5×6. At the higher end of that price range you will get your self-loading, pull-type 2-bale Trailed Bale Unroller which will also handle any size round bale up to a 5×6.
The chain or Unrolla Bale Processors are similar to the Chainless but they fluff or tease the forage about half as much as a Chainless and are limited to round bales only.
We have just thoroughly discussed the cost OF the bale processors or the Capital Expenditure of bale processors in this article but undoubtedly one of the most pertinent questions is: What is my cost to OWN a bale processor or my Operational Expenditure of a bale processor. We won’t go into depth in this article as we’ll go over it thoroughly soon in our next article the COST TO OWN A BALE PROCESSOR. For many operations, this can be the largest cash drain of all! Some of the factors to consider are horsepower and fuel requirements (Do you have to buy a bigger tractor just to run it?), parts and maintenance, time, and depreciation. On top of all that, is it delivering ALL of the nutrition to your livestock?
Get your copy of over 30,000 hours of research into comparing every system for feeding bales to cattle. Inside you’ll find the complete comparison of how each system performs on the 23 issues ranchers face.
To provide you with a balanced evaluation, instead of comparing brands, we’ve compared how each feeding system performs and compares in each of the 23 situations faced when trying to optimize performance when feeding bales to cattle: