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Home > History of Development > Technology Through Time > Soil and Agriculture > Haying > Tractor Haying > Stacking Hay

Technology Through Time


A tractor-powered combination sweep stacker at work.A major innovation on the road to the mechanization of haymaking during the war was the development of a tractor-powered combined hay sweep and stacker. This device allowed hay to be stacked at a rate of less than one man-hour per 900 kilograms, using a crew of two or three. This was less than one third of the labour needed to stack hay using a rack and pitchforks.

Earl Ranville Kerchner of Tilley, working in association with the Lethbridge Experimental Farm, designed a combination sweep stacker with its own undercarriage and wheels that could be pushed ahead of a tractor. A cable lift raised and lowered the fork, and the stacker wheels powered the clutch-activated windlass. Kerchner patented his machine in 1944 and began production in Medicine Hat in 1945. Although it was ungainly and difficult to operate, over 500 were eventually built. A machine built along similar principles, the "Jay Hawk Stacker," was also offered for sale by the Riverside Ironworks in Calgary in 1948.

In southern Alberta during the war years, another Albertan designed a second type of sweep stacker that mounted directly on the tractor. Patented by Andrew Briosi in 1944, the original model was raised and lowered by winches and cables powered by the tractor power-take-off. These devices were much easier to operate than the Kerchner combination sweep stacker and could also be used to load bales and lift other heavy objects around the farm. Mechanically activated tractor-mounted sweep stackers quickly became obsolete, but similar designs, such as the Farmhand F10, using hydraulic cylinders to provide lifting power were widely accepted and became extremely popular by the 1950s. Hydraulic-powered sweep stackers, generally referred to as "farmhands" by most Alberta farmers, came into general use at about the same time as a second important labour saving innovation, the automatic baler.

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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