Horse drawn gasoline powered hay baler : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Looking for information on horse drawn, gasoline powered hay balers. I have heard that the a number of souls in the Amish/Menonite community have converted existing equipment. I tried and failed miserabley (Engine too small, baler too old and not enough skill/knowledge). Looking for some thoughts.....Can it really be done? Is it worth the effort? Costs, design, best baler to used, etc....

-- Steve Tarr (, February 25, 2002


Steve, Find out when there will be a horse progress days or a another work horse gathering in your area. They demo all the equipment, it is a wonderful way to find all the ins and outs. Check out for events.

-- Suzanne (, February 25, 2002.

I don't know about horse-drawn balers (although I've seen some Amishmen using such a thing), but I have seen some tractor-drawn balers. The Massey I'm most familiar with is light enough to pull behind something as small as a large 4-wheeler. It mounted a 16-hp gas engine, picked up raked rows of hay, and put out square bales wrapped in twine. If there is interest, I'll relate the story of the Egyptian grad student and the mating of the Massey baler and Gleaner combine.

Beware of "bright ideas..."

-- Paul D. (, February 26, 2002.

Paul D, I'd be interested - sounds like a story the folks over at would like as well. :)

Anyhow, many of these balers had Wisconsin engines on them. When they worked they worked great, but those engines can sure have a personality! You really need to get to know them. They often do not restart when they are hot, might as well take a couple hours off if it stalls.

So yes, it can work. Never been around such a rig, esp with horses involved, but I am familiar with the engines.


-- paul (, February 26, 2002.

The guy I bought our Belgian from used to convert all his equipment to horse drawn. He had a brand new John Deere baler (the round baler) that he converted to horse drawn, but - get this, he kept the hydraulics by utilizing a battery operation. Three Percherons pulled the baler. He had every type of equipment converted over, from fertilizer spreaders, rakes, you -name it. The guy was an absolute whiz at working horses. Each year South Carolina holds a Horse Drawn equipment working weekend in September. It is near the "Black Rock" state park and there are Mennonite Ladies cooking, people weaving and spinning, soap making demonstrations, sheep shearing, and of course all the plowing, wagon pulling, syrup making operations too. You really should attend an event like this to decide if horse drawn equipment is for you. Like us, we found that there are certain aspects to using horses which is great, and some things we just don't bother with as it is too much trouble to hitch the mare up (like hauling cut up wood to the rack). We haul trees, not trees that are already cut into stove lengths (we use our Lawn tractor for that). It is worth the effort if you can't afford a tractor and have room for the horse. Take Small Farmers Journal where you can learn (with drawings) how to convert equipment, renovate and build equipment. IT is worth the price.

-- Cindy (, February 26, 2002.


I don't know where you are located, but several years ago, East of Cleveland, OH I saw a beautiful eight-horse team of Belgiums pulling a large (I think diesel) tractor connected to a PTO-driven mechanical baler and behind the baler was a wagon with square bales being loaded. It was quite a sight and the rig reminded me of the old 20 Mule Team Borax Commercial. Several Amish men were working the arrangement; one driving the team, another monitoring and guiding (not sure it was under its own drive power) the tractor, and others working behind the baler, and still others pulling loaded hay wagons to the barn with horses, while even more men and boys were stacking the hay in the barn. A whole lot of muscle being used that day. I must admit it was one of the most interesting sights I've ever seen.

As I drove down the road my curiosity really got the better of me. And I must tell you up front that I have spent a lot of time learning the ways of the Old Order Amish culture and I hold Amish farmers in great respect. Their understanding of the natural order and ecological balance is excellent. Their use of the horse to define limits and interactions within their society is at the same time elegantly simple and inter-connectedly complex. I also admire their trade skills and absolute ingenuity at solving problems. Homesteaders can learn a great deal from the Amish.

Anyhow, I stopped at one of the local Amish stores and asked about the haying setup. As I recall the conversation these many years later, one of the men in the store explained they had asked the elders about using engine-powered (again I seem to remember it was diesel) equipment in the field if it was all rigged with DC current. My memory is that he said the elders decided that if an engine- powered item used DC current AND WAS PULLED THROUGH THE FIELD BY HORSES, then it was acceptable.

What I remember most is the incredible sight of horses pulling a tractor, baler and hay wagon through that large hayfield. Very memorable. I also used to spend time in and around Berlin, OH, but never saw a similar hay rig down their.

So, for whatever its worth, maybe you should consider diesel and DC for your baler power.

Good Luck.

-- Ed (, February 26, 2002.

Esch Manufacturing in Lancaster, PA makes horse drawn equipment. I don't know about a baler but I've seen them advertise a horse drawn disc mower with or without conditioner powered by a 40hp diesel or gas engine.

Their number is (717) 397-1051. If they don't make a baler, they may know who does.

-- Darren (, February 26, 2002.

I've seen a regular tractor baler used with a motorized forecart with pto. Get ahold of some of the fall issues of Small Farmer's Journal and look at the pics of the Farm Progress Days ( . Its usually held July 4th weekend, I think and is in the midwest.... Indiana/Ohio area. Where do you live? I've seen the Amish around here (N. Indiana) use the forecart/baler combination, but the community near where my brother used to live in Wisconsin didn't allow that type of arrangement. They would run a stationary tractor and baler and pick the hay up on wagons and take it to the baler.

-- Deb Foster (, February 27, 2002.

I still see balers at farm sales yet with 2 cyl wisconsen motors on um most amish in my area use a motor on a cart to run ther pto equipment

-- Grizz in Western Maryland (, February 27, 2002.

I have an old NH Bailer that was orginally powered by a 2 clyinder air cooled engine via drive belts. I am thinking about powering it with an old air cooled Honda motorcycle engine. I will probally hook the exhaust to an automobile muffler to quiet it down. I am planning to pull the whole thing with a forecart.

What do you think?

Ron Markell.

-- Ron Markell. (, April 07, 2002.

Ron, I think you want to be real careful that whetever exhaust system you have has a good spark arrestor, and is also well clear of any vegetation - either growing, or passing through the baler, or shed trash from the process. I'm also not sure how your motorcycle engine would go if you started changing the exhaust system in a way that added additional back-pressure.

-- Don Armstrong (, April 07, 2002.

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