Hay hooks

How do you know what length to order? Does it make much of a difference (1-2" either way)? The brand of hooks I’m considering come in 9", 10", and 12" lengths. I’m 5’5".

Does anyone have a preferred style or brand?

Also, what is the best way to pull single bales off the top of an ~8’ x 8’ x 8-10’ tall stack? Bales are 3-string ~100 lb small square bales.Just get up on a stepladder next to the stack and push a bale away from you until it falls?


Hard to say without knowing your height weight and physical ability. Our hay dealers do things with bales I cant even push easily. The 120 lb bales sit where they drop until I feed them flake by flake.

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I’m 5’5" 130 lbs average strength. Bales won’t be moved far – I just need to get them off the top of the stack onto the ground, then dragged short distances to where, like you, I’ll break them into flakes. No slinging around or re-stacking. I just wonder which length of hay hooks would be optimum. The company says their most popular size is 10".

Also, there are several videos on YouTube of people STACKING hay, but I haven’t come across one showing how to get bales down. With horses, there’s often a trick or way that someone has figured out to do something, so maybe also with getting bales down.

I use a long handled garden rake to gently pull bales over and over to the edge and then a bit over the edge to fall where I want them.
Most any hay hook is fine in length, but I like to ope them a little more.

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Bluey, using the rake will work. I’ll just make sure not to pull the bales towards me. :crazy_face:

And, thanks for replying. When I started this thread I hoped that you and Scribbler would see it, in case there were any magic tricks to any of this.

Every new hay hook we get, I stick them on the receiver hitch on the pickup and force the end a bit more open, so is easier to let go after moving a bale, keeps the hook from hanging onto the bale and maybe jerking you around as the bale moves further.

I use the real long handled hooks for dragging bales around, or reaching higher up, but to really move bales like stacking, the short, light ones are a good length to just extend your arms to reach further, especially for the shorties as I am, without being so long as being heavier and harder to use continuously.

Bales high up on the edge of the stack, I push them down with the end of the handle of the rake, slowly moving them off the edge.
When using the rake end, be sure to barely catch the teeth, so you can turn loose quickly as the bale balances for a second and then falls.

When using bales off a tall hay stack, be sure to leave yourself a step-staircase of bales so you can climb up there easily.

I think the 10" hooks would be great, mine are too short. I once saw a guy with like 2 foot long ones-- super envious!

My hay is stacked 16 feet up (yay for strong young men!). So I use a ladder to push the first few bales off, then I open them on the ground next to the stack for easy feeding. I’m 53, 5’7", pretty strong but not crazy. I can move these big 105lb bales pretty well by pushing them on the concrete or rolling them end over end, but mostly they get fed from where they land on the ground next to the stack.

I do what @Bluey said:)

I am 5’2”. I have a heavy duty landscaper’s garden rake that I use to pull hay bales down. Bales are two twine where I now live.

I had to jockey those three twine “small” squares when I lived in SoCal. Those were not stacked much more than six feet high but I still used a heavy duty garden rake to pull them down, after I popped the cartilage in one elbow. That was Pain City for awhile:(

I use the hay hooks to drags the bales if they need moved to a different spot. They are 30 years old so I have no clue about length; they were hanging on a hook at the local old time feed store, looked like the ones my grandfather used, so I bought them.

It’s not the size of the tool, it’s what you do with it that counts.


I use a two wheel dolly also called a hand truck… but I have seen my horses grab a bale off the truck then walk off with it even though the bales weigh in the 130 pound range

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I just make sure that when I’m stacking, I leave a couple bales arranged as a staircase. If the top layer is stacked so tight that I can’t wiggle/nudge one of the outer top bales out over the edge and let it fall, I’ll climb up on the top layer and push one out or lift one end so it falls end over end.
Then just keep taking bales in a way that you always have a staircase to access the top layer.

Luckily since we stack our own bales, and we’re simply not that good at it, they’re rarely so wedged in that I can’t get one down. LOL

I like Bluey’s suggestion of opening up the hook a bit – that’s always been the problem for me with hay hooks-- hard to get them out in a way that doesn’t jerk me around as the bale falls.

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Be careful if on the top of the stack, reaching over and pulling a bale, to stay out of the way.
Decades ago, I was way up there, we had some huge two wire 100# bales, about my weight then, that were so heavy they would get stuck to each other.
I pulled one loose, lost my footing and fell sideways, sliding head first down the staircased stack.
The big bale slowly followed me, they tell me, until I ended up on the floor, the bale did a neat flip and nailed my head sideways into the dirt.
I was fine, those there were all laughing very hard.

I was thinking the same, pulling things that heavy while on a step ladder would scare me. I’m lucky I suppose that my loft only takes bales 3 high, and I don’t pull them down, just feed off the stack. I’m unlucky though that I can’t get a whole year of hay in (I can do 7 or 8 months) and if I could I’d be getting a higher stack! I like the idea of a hay staircase but as @Bluey says that can be risky too.

Or tie a long heavy duty hay string to the hay hook. Take the ladder and hook the hay hook into the bale, get down off ladder and give the string a tug. While standing out of the way as best you can.