A ute hay bale lifter designed to make feeding out round bales on the farm easier is an entry in the 2017 Henty Agri-Innovators Award.
Daysdale sheep producer Peter Mills came up with the idea of adapting a lifting frame to the tilt tray of his farm ute, and operating it remotely.
‘‘I don’t know how many stubbies and hours have been spent on it — it’s been through five stages of development,’’ Mr Mills said.
The Agri-Innovators Award is designed for farm inventors, backyard tinkerers and students. The entries must meet the criteria of having a practical on-farm application, be based on an original idea of the entrant and not be in full-scale production at the time of entry.
Eighteen months ago Mr Mills suffered a serious spinal injury in a road accident. After rehabilitation, he had a tilt tray fitted to his new ute to make chores easier around the farm.
‘‘When it was fitted I noticed it had a two-way hydraulic ram so thought I could use it for lifting,’’ he said.
A trip to the Henty field days last year gave him ideas about how to construct the lifting frame.
‘‘I have been working on this prototype since Christmas with the help of Focus Engineering at Corowa,’’ he said.
Mr Mills said the ute bale lifter was ideal for quickly feeding out hay without the need for a front-end loader or a tractor fitted with forks. Once the tailgate is removed, a swing-arm frame is bolted on, together with a support frame secured with a spring pin, and two pick-up arms on the rear of the tray.
The support frame drops down behind the round bale to secure it.
The swing-arm frame is adjustable to cater for different sized round bales. The ute is positioned close to the round bale and the support frame is secured around it. The bale is then hydraulically lifted onto the ute in a matter of 20 seconds using a hand held remote.
Mr Mills said the lifter frame took just minutes to assemble.
‘‘There are plenty of people with three or four properties keen on the concept as often the front-end loader is tied up doing jobs when needed for feeding out,’’ he said.
‘‘I can’t find anything else similar to this on the market.’’
The lifter fits either a 2.13m or 2.43m ute tray and will be fitted to a Falcon ute for display at Henty. It can be also used for loading wool bales or 44-gallon drums.
Although this is Mr Mills’ first entry in the Agri-Innovators Award, he has spent a lifetime modifying farm machinery.
‘‘Thirty years ago there was not a machine on this property that was dead standard for more than six months,’’ he said.
‘‘Everything got altered straight away. Dad always said if there was something which could be bettered, we should better it.’’