LOUISVILLE, Ky. — That old saying about necessity being the mother of all invention? It’s true, you know. Just ask Kenny Kuhns.
The Trumbull County, Ohio, farmer was frustrated with the labor-intensive process of making small square bales of hay. He had a good market for the smaller bales, selling to local horse owners, but the whole baling and stacking and unloading and restacking thing? There had to be a better way.
So he invented one.
Kuhns came up with a new “hay accumulator” design. The bales come up a chute from the baler, and slide into place in neat, tight rows on the slanted accumulator. When full, the bale group slides off the accumulator and creates a neat, single-layer grouping of hay bales. (Scroll down to watch a video from Kuhns Manufacturing.)
He worked with a local machine shop to fabricate one for their farm.
And then, says Kenny’s son, Glendon, “a couple neighbors wanted one.”
Kuhns Manufacturing started in 2004, after several years of building prototypes and tweaking the design.
The first year, they sold 10. Then 40, then 80, then 200, as word spread.
“The simplicity of the machine translates to reliability,” said Glendon Kuhns.
It hooks to most balers with a hitch pin. There are no hydraulics or electronics; it simply uses gravity to collect and arrange groups of eight to 18 bales. The flat grouping of bales (three bales long by five or six bales wide on the larger models) slides out the automatic tail gate.
The accumulator can handle 12 bales a minute, Glendon Kuhns said. “It’s a very, very high capacity machine.”
But Kenny Kuhns wanted to make sure they didn’t sacrifice reliability for speed.
“We understand that we need to have a reliable product,” the younger Kuhns said.
The accumulator was joined by another Kuhns invention: the Grabber, which can be used with a front loader to pick up the bale groups and stack them. And a new Grabber model can wrap twine around the grouping of bales for more sturdy freestanding stacking.
Kuhns holds a patent on the accumulator and has one pending on the Grabber with the twine wrapper.
Today, 500 Kuhns Hay Accumulation Systems can be found throughout the Midwest, but also as far away as Alaska, Puerto Rico, Canada and France.
The successful inventor isn’t leaving his farm roots any time soon — the family still raises 300 acres of hay and another 900 acres of corn and soybeans on ground in Trumbull, Geauga and Ashtabula counties.
4210 Kinsman Road N.W.
North Bloomfield, OH 44450