Remember To Maintain Your Haying Equipment

Published on Wed, 04/10/2019 - 3:38pm

 Remember To Maintain Your Haying Equipment

 By Jaclyn Krymowski

 They say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” in terms of livestock. The same can certainly be said for farm machinery and haying equipment is a prime example. Remember, farm machinery is among your most valuable of assets. The true powerhouses of farm activity, you use them day to day and season to season. While there are some freak anomalies which come at even the most prepared mechanics, most malfunctions can be mitigated entirely. Regular maintenance is the bit of cheap insurance that’s a vital key to keep things running smoothly at all times. This way, you are much less likely to have a frustrating breakdown in the middle of the field on a hot, humid day as you’re racing against a looming rainstorm.

Annual maintenance
Take advantage of those rainy days between the season long before your equipment is actually needed to run through the annual “to-do” list. Some points of inspection should include the following:
Belts and chains: These are great places to pick up wear and tear. They will regularly lose their tension, need adjustments, or replaced entirely. You will want to inspect for cracks, breaks, and free motion. This includes any new belts or chains that were replaced recently, double check to be sure they’re properly fitted and functioning.
Hydraulics and hoses: Change all hydraulic-system filters and purge any stagnant air sitting in the system. Check the auto-lube system and oil levels. This is a good time to refer to your owner’s manual and make sure that you are using the correct type of hydraulic oil for your specific make and model. Remember to check any electric cables and hydraulic hoses for cracks, leaks, breaks or other wear.
Balers: Balers come with their own unique complexities and moving parts. Be sure to check for any forage materials leftover that may cause obstruction or entanglements. All points that come into contact with net wrapping or twine wrapping need to be well lubricated, properly fitted and free of rust. Pick up teeth on both rakes and balers are very subject to damage and frequently need to be replaced or repaired.

Tires: Do a standard air pressure check. Examine lug bolts and tires for any excessive wear and tear. If any of your tires seem to have their days numbered, be sure to make a note and get replacements on as soon as possible.
Other: Don’t forget to grease any joints, bearings and other points of wear. Also check the fluid levels in the gearbox and change if necessary. This is especially important because neglect and deterioration will lead to damaged seals which will need to be replaced. Clear all rakes, mower teeth and tedders of any forage or other organic materials that would obstruct movement. Lubricate these as necessary. Don’t forget to give attention to the PTO shaft and shield to ensure all is well there.

Before each use
Do a standard “safety check” if you’ll be traveling on roadways. Make sure hazard lights are functioning and slow-moving vehicle (SMV) signs are clearly visible. If you will be working with any kind of dry forages, make sure to have a fire extinguisher close at hand. Briefly inspect fluid levels, tire pressure, all points of hitch connections and the hydraulic hoses. Do a quick test run of the PTO and all hydraulic systems.
Check the settings on your baler and make sure they are appropriate for the materials you will be harvesting. Remember that forages such as cornstalks are much harder on machines than simple dry hay, the settings must be correct to avoid damage and keep moving properly. Also check all belt and chain tensions. Observe the netting and/or twine systems for obstructions, stiffness, or other issues and refill any twine or netting if necessary.

Use an air compressor to blow out any debris that may have built up in sensitive areas. Check for any hardware that needs to be replaced or repaired.
As you put your seasonal equipment away, take an inventory of any replacement parts that you have and add to it if necessary. Do a final check on all fluid levels, tire pressures, and other points of tension.
It never hurts to do a run-through of your machinery at the end of a long day of hard use (though it may feel a bit of a pain). Most important is to make sure a thorough inspection is done when you are ready to retire your equipment to the shed as summer wanes. The more maintenance you can account for and get done over the winter months, the faster you can get everything out and to the fields when next spring rolls around.