How to move round bales without a tractor?

Hello all! I would like to start buying round bales of straw and hay because it’s cheaper per pound (I think right?) but we don’t have a tractor to move them around or a team of horses. I am wondering if anyone has some ingenious idea of how to make this work? I really don’t want to buy a expensive piece of equipment! Thanks!

We have a tractor to move our 5’ bales but we unroll them by hand to feed them. Two people can usually roll a bale if it’s not uphill. Of course, doing so for any distance would be extremely burdensome, less so if you have 4’ bales.

We have sometimes had to use a pickup truck to move a bale. This can work surprisingly well on snow or wet grass. We put a tow strap around the center of the bale and pull the bale end-first. The strap/chain is bound to need some repositioning as you move along but it still beats trying to push it by hand.

Also, buying a couple of bale hooks will give you better leverage in pulling the top of the bale to make it roll.

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Without knowing how many bales you are buying or what you are using it for, it may still be more effective to buy small square bales, even if they cost more per lb.

Take the total amount of hay you will buy per year in pounds and multiple it by the price difference per lb between the two bales sizes. This total is your convenience cost.

If the spread is big enough ($2000 or more per year), maybe you should consider tractor, especially if it can be used for other tasks.

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One thing to note is the safety risks that can come with trying to hand-roll these giant bales across a distance, especially if the land slopes at all. Something to keep in mind when deciding what would work best for you!

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