Benefits of Unrolling Hay with an Arm Bed

Benefits of Unrolling Hay with an Arm Bed

July 13, 2022

For ranchers, an essential part of raising livestock is feeding hay. Opinions vary on the best method on how that should be done: feeding in a bale ring or unrolling hay bales with an arm bed. In this post, we’ll go over the benefits of using an arm bed to unroll hay and an additional option Butler Beds offers to make feeding hay easier and more efficient.

Unrolling hay can efficiently feed bales while providing both pushy and timid livestock access to hay. Additionally, it can be used to offer bedding in inclement weather, providing livestock with a dry place to lay down. Unrolling hay allows ranchers to move feeding sites, which distributes manure and animal impact more uniformly, improving regrowth in the spring. Unrolling enables producers to disperse only what hay is needed for one feeding – per the number of head, not the number of hay rings.

An alternative is to feed in bale rings; when doing this, a rancher will place rings in his pasture and feed one bale in each. Livestock is offered free-choice access to hay, when fed in bale rings. However, the downside is that most bale rings limit the number of head that can feed at the same time. Additionally, cattle will often pull large portions of hay out and drop it on the ground around the ring that they will then stand on or bed down, wasting quality hay.

Though feeding in bale rings can offer some convenience, it also presents challenges. Bale rings must be moved to minimize compaction, wasted hay piles, and erosion around a pasture. Bale rings can be heavy and bulky, making moving them difficult and time-consuming.

Ford extended cab pick up with Butler Beds Arm Bed hauling a large round bale across a creek to feed cattle.
Butler Arm Bed is hauling large round bales to feed cattle.

Arm beds are versatile tools on any ranch. An arm bed is a flatbed manufactured with hydraulic arms, powered by an electric over hydraulic pump, and operated by a handheld remote that allows ranchers to move and unroll large bales easily.

With a lifting capacity of up to 2,500lbs (subject to the truck manufacturer GVW) and the ability to lift 4-wheelers, pull t-posts, or haul multiple bales, having a Butler Bed is like having an extra ranch hand.

Skirted Butler Arm Bed hauling a large square bale.
Skirted Butler Arm Bed is hauling large square bale.

Ranchers that are used to handling bales with spike beds typically stack bales end-to-end, allowing them to spear the center of the bale without damaging the net wrap. Change can be tricky; the biggest struggle ranchers talk about is using an arm bed to pull bales out of stacks. Butler Beds offers optional spikes in the cross tube to alleviate some of this hassle.

Dual removable spikes, double the usefulness of the bed and improve the rancher's feeding experience. Efficiency is the name of the game in ranching, and there's nothing more efficient than having two bale beds on one truck. Ranchers can move the bales needed for that day’s or week’s feeding utilizing the spikes, then stow them away to allow ranchers to lift, haul, and unroll with the bed’s arms.

For more than 20 years, Butler Beds has been building rugged, reliable products for farmers and ranchers. To learn more about arm beds or the benefits of unrolling hay, follow us on Facebook or Instagram by searching @ButlerBeds. Ready to find your versatile ranch hand? Use our Dealer Locator to find your nearest Butler Beds dealer.

About Harper Industries

Harper Industries, Inc. is a diverse, values-based manufacturing company building quality products in the fields of agriculture, hydraulics, landscaping and sports turf management under the DewEze, Butler and Harper brand names. Call 620-896-7381 for more information on their full line of equipment or visit