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Technology Through Time


Baling hay with horse-driven baler, Bancroft area, Alberta, 1920. The automatic baler was preceded by a manual version called a pick-up baler. Pick-up balers eliminated the time and manpower required for stacking hay and baling it with a stationary press by picking up the hay directly from the windrow and compressing it into bales. The first pick-up balers used a rotating drum to sweep the hay onto a platform. A man standing on the platform forked the hay into the bale chamber and a second man tied the bales before they were ejected. An engine mounted on the machine powered the pick-up drum and bale plunger. John Deere introduced pick-up balers in 1936, and International Harvester soon followed in 1940.

Hay on loaded hay rack, holding forks ready to unload, circa 1901.These machines are an interesting step in the evolution of haying technology, but they were not widely adopted by Albertans. Their production ended soon after automatic balers were introduced to the market in 1944. Automatic balers featured mechanical forks to feed the hay into the bale chamber, and knotters to tie the bale with wire or twine. The immediate acceptance of these machines, soon known simply as The Bradshaw Bale Booster manufactured by the Lethbridge Iron Works, at work building a stack, 1949.balers, led, in 1950, to another Alberta invention, the Bradshaw Bale Booster. This was a conveyor that elevated bales so a stack of bales could be built. It was built by Lethbridge Iron Works.

By the 1950s most of Alberta's hay was made using tractors. Remarkably, this change from horse-power to machinery took place in under 10 years.

Judy Larmour. Making Hay While the Sun Shone: Haying in Alberta Before 1955. n.p.: Friends of Reynolds-Alberta Museum Society and Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism, Historic Sites and Archives Service, 1992. With permission from
Friends of the Reynolds-Alberta Museum Society



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