How to Cut and Gather String or Net Wrap Off of Round Bales

Feeding round bales to livestock always involve the necessary removal of strings (also called twine) or netting before the animals can properly feed from those bales. It's not an easy task if you don't know how to do it properly, so it's best to read the following steps below to know just what the most proper and time-saving way is for cutting and gathering strings (or netting) off of round bales. If twine or net wrap is not removed, it can potentially kill livestock.


  1. 1
    Cut the strings or net wrap. Using a sharp utility knife, make a cut perpendicular to the flat areas of the bale that stretches from one end to the other at a height that is around chest-height to you or lower. The way some balers wrap it is easier to cut on the side it needs to unroll. If unrolling make sure stems are pointing toward the way it needs to be unrolled. it will unroll just like a carpet if turned the right way. You may have to make several cuts if the knife is dull or if the strings are buried deep in the bale. Double and triple-check that you've cut all the twine or netting that is attached to the bale.
    • With some bales, the string may be embedded a few inches (centimetres) into the bale, which may make it impossible to cut. You will need to use your fingers to find the string before making the necessary cuts.
  2. 2
    Gather the twine or net wrap. Do not pull off until you have reached your desired destination Go to the opposite side of the bale and pick the strands off the bale a few lengths at a time, only taking enough that you can gather all the string in your hand whilst leaving most still on the bale. Most string is applied in separate groups of two to four strings set apart about two to six inches (5cm to 15cm), which makes it relatively easy to gather up in your hands if you've cut all the strands on the other side of the bale.
    • Netting is usually much easier to gather, since it is joined together and will come off without having to gather much up. It also won't hide from you like twine will.
    • It is this point where you can tell if you missed any strings you cut. If this is the case, then go around to the side you had cut the strings and find the strand you missed, or you can simply cut the strand right where you are gathering them up.
  3. 3
    Pull the string or net wrap from the bale. Beware of any thorns or sharp objects when grabbing the string. Once you've got all the strands in your one hand, pull out the strings from the bale, using your body weight and strength in your arms and legs, to free difficult strands. You can just pull the string as is, or form a simple knot to bind the string together and use the loop you formed from the knot as a means to help better pull the string off the bale on one fell-swoop.
    • If you are taking off netting, you can apply the same procedure as above. You'll find though, that older net wrap tends to tear easily than baler string does, which will make it a little more challenging to gather and pull off the bale.
    • During the wintertime (especially if you are in an area where you get snow and ice) you may find it a bit more difficult to pull twine or net wrap off of the bale. Ice formed on top of the bale tends to hold the string or net wrap a bit more fast than if you were doing this in the spring or fall when there is no ice or snow to be had. You just need to use a bit more muscle force to remove the string, or if it's particularly stubborn, the knife to help free it. If needed you can wrap twine around a stick and pull on the stick with more force to free the twine up.
  4. 4
    Gather the string or netting in a bundle. This way you will be able to make sure no loose string is left behind for your livestock to accidentally consume. Start by gathering it into a loop, similar to that as a cowboy would gather a lariat or a lasso (diameter is best to be around a foot [~30 cm] or the length of your forearm from the space between your thumb and forefinger to underneath your elbow), except that you must leave a fairly significant portion of at least two to three metres (or over six to nine feet) of loose string trailing from this loop. Now take each side of this loop and pinch it together so that both edges of this circular loop are now held in one hand, forming loops both above and below your fist. Then take the trailing end and tightly wrap it around the middle of where you had pinched the loop together in your hand, and keep looping the trailing end until there is no loose string left. You have now formed a bundle of twine. Always be aware of where the bundles are placed.
    • Do the same thing with net wrap for the same reason as mentioned above.
  5. 5
    Repeat the steps above for each round bale you must remove the twine or net wrap from. Make sure you gather up the strings for each bale, and even keep an eye out for extra strings on the ground that you may have missed. It's a good idea to do a regular walk around the area where hay is strewn to pick up any stray string and dispose of it properly.


  • It's highly recommended you use gloves when cutting and removing string or net wrap. Plastic can, and will, cut through your skin, especially if it's older wrap or twine. However, be aware that you may need to remove your gloves in order to find a string buried somewhere in the bale of hay or straw.
  • Always have your knife handy for cutting strings or net wrap. You won't be able to get any twine or netting off the bale without it.
  • Make sure you get all the string or netting off the bale. Not only will it make it easier for livestock to access the bale, but also ensures that livestock don't ingest the netting or twine by accident. Livestock, particularly ruminants like cattle and sheep, have been known to die from getting too much baler twine or netting in their reticulum (the first stomach chamber of a ruminant), making it harder to properly digest feed. Moreover, livestock cannot remove the strings themselves, nor should you expect them to. If you have bales bound with sisal twine, you can leave the bale as is, but it would still be a good idea to cut the sisal twine to make it easier for the animals to eat the bale.
  • Sisal twine is twine that is simply made from sisal grass, which makes it much safer and easier for livestock to digest and also eliminates the job of having to gather the string off the bale before feeding.
  • Cutting net wrap or strings in the winter (especially in areas where snow and ice is commonplace) is always a challenge. Ice and snow can impede your efforts to removing string or netting to the point where you will need to work harder to get the wrap or twine off. Thus, during such winter times, make sure you always have your knife handy and don't be afraid to use your muscles when tackling frozen bales in the winter.


  • Never have your hand behind the blade of your knife, nor cut towards your non-cutting hand, no matter what hand you use to cut with.
  • Plastic string or net wrap will cut your hands if you don't have gloves on.

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife
  • Pair of gloves
  • Round bales

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Farm Animals and Livestock | Farming