How to Choose a Hay Tedder and Why
By aerating cut hay, tedders can decrease curing time and give you a higher quality product.
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Depending on the weather conditions where you live, cut hay might need to dry out a little bit before it’s baled. By using groups of finger-like tines on rotors, a hay tedder lifts and fluffs your cut hay, exposing more of its surface area to air. This process promotes dry down and allows producers in wet or humid areas to bale hay faster than by using conventional drying methods. A tedder should be used before you’ve moved your hay into windrows.
Tedding requires that you feed the crop into each pair of spinning rotor teeth. The crop enters the rotors with the left rotor turning clockwise and right rotor turning counter-clockwise, spreading and fluffing the hay in a uniform swath. If possible, angle the rotors to lift the crop high enough off the ground, which will allow it to float to the surface. If the rotor angle or the miles-per-hour: rotations-per-minute (MPH:RMP) of rotor speed is not adjusted to accomplish crop float, the rotors will just “stir” the crop. Check the manual for your tractor’s recommended PTO speed.
Use a tedder when the crop is moist enough not to lose leaves following the cutting operation, or after dew or rain have remoistened the crop. A general rule is that hay cut in the morning is ready to ted in the afternoon, as long as the mowed swath feels dry on the top surface. You might need to ted again the next morning before baling, but be careful with leafy crops, such as alfalfa or clover, as they are more sensitive to damage when crop moisture level decreases during tedding. A tedder can be used multiple times on a crop if conditions require re-fluffing.
Choose a Tedder for Your Acreage
Just as with a rake, you should consider the size of your operation, the terrain, time constraints you’re working with, and budget when deciding which hay tedder to purchase.
For operators who need a dependable hay tedder that can handle a variety of crop and field conditions, go for an implement with a working width around 5 meters (16 feet, 5 inches), such as the Frontier TD1316 Hay Tedder. When raised in the transport position, the outer rotors of this particular unit can be rotated 180 degrees to decrease the transport width to 9 feet, 4 inches (2.84 meters). You can also slightly raise your tedder for headland turns. Each of the four rotors has six tine arms with flexible steel tines to pick up crops in the toughest conditions and minimize ground contact. Look for frames that articulate with and are supported by flotation tires, as they will allow the tedder to follow irregular ground contours with ease.
5-meter tedders, such as this TD3418, are an excellent solution for smaller commercial operations.
The TD3427 Hay Tedder is an economical large-field solution.
For larger fields, look for a tedder that’s more than 8 meters (26-1/4 feet) such as the Frontier Hay Tedder. This rugged tool is offered in a 27-foot (8.23 meter) tedding width and features six productive rotors — each with seven round tubular tine arms. It has an integrated transport frame, allowing the implement to fold up and tilt forward to a compact 11 feet, 6 inches (3.51 meters) wide. For added convenience, look for independent transport wheels that increase maneuverability.
For this implement size, you’ll need a tractor with a minimum of 55 PTO horsepower (41 kW). Like the smaller size tedder, tine height is adjustable using the tine height adjustment lever. After tine height has been set, the tedder can be easily raised or lowered hydraulically from the tractor seat.
And remember, always read the manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.