Download PDF Making Hay: How to Cut, Dry, Rake, Gather, and Store a Nourishing Crop

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As the author frequently reiterates, there is some art to getting the best possible hay crop, and the best way to learn is to spend some time with someone who already knows what they are doing. That being said, she walks you through the different facets of hay-making so that you have the best chance at success. And, as she reminds us, even poor-quality hay is better than none.

Beginning with a definition of good hay, and the types of grasses, legumes, or mixes usual for different areas in the United States and for different livestock, the author walks through the entire hay-making process.

Grass for garden

The book covers Judging for quality , Cutting, Drying, Raking, Gathering, and Storing, as well as some other problems and how to solve them. If you want more self-sufficiency and the sense of security that comes with stored fodder in the barn, this book is for you. Amari Soul. Rs Rs 1, The 15 Greatest Board Games in the World. The 15 Greatest Board Games in the WorldThe world's best board games, spruced up for the 21st centur..

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How to grow alfalfa hay

Rowling, Jack Thorne and Joh.. Mini Colour Rocking Horse. Straw is normally used for bedding to keep animals warm and dry. Commonly used plants for hay include mixtures of grasses such as ryegrass Lolium species , timothy, brome, fescue, Bermuda grass, orchard grass, and other species, depending on region.

Hay may also include legumes , such as alfalfa lucerne and clovers red, white and subterranean.


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Legumes in hay are ideally cut pre-bloom. Other pasture forbs are also sometimes a part of the mix, though these plants are not necessarily desired as certain forbs are toxic to some animals. Oat , barley , and wheat plant materials are occasionally cut green and made into hay for animal fodder; however they are more usually used in the form of straw , a harvest byproduct where the stems and dead leaves are baled after the grain has been harvested and threshed. Straw is used mainly for animal bedding.

Cut, Rake, Bale, Repeat - Farming In 4K

Although straw is also used as fodder, particularly as a source of dietary fiber , it has lower nutritional value than hay. Hay is usually fed to an animal in place of allowing the animal to graze on grasses in a pasture , particularly in the winter or during times when drought or other conditions make pasture unavailable. Animals that can eat hay vary in the types of grasses suitable for consumption, the ways they consume hay, and how they digest it. Therefore, different types of animals require hay that consists of similar plants to what they would eat while grazing, and likewise, plants that are toxic to an animal in pasture are also toxic if they are dried into hay.

Most animals are fed hay in two daily feedings, morning and evening. However, this schedule is more for the convenience of humans, as most grazing animals on pasture naturally consume fodder in multiple feedings throughout the day. Some animals, especially those being raised for meat, may be given enough hay that they simply are able to eat all day. Other animals, especially those that are ridden or driven as working animals, are only free to eat when not working, and may be given a more limited amount of hay to prevent them from getting too fat.

The proper amount of hay and the type of hay required varies somewhat between different species. Some animals are also fed concentrated feeds such as grain or vitamin supplements in addition to hay. One of the most significant differences in hay digestion is between ruminant animals, such as cattle and sheep ; and nonruminant, hindgut fermentors, such as horses.


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Both types of animals can digest cellulose in grass and hay, but do so by different mechanisms. Because of the four-chambered stomach of cattle, they are often able to break down older forage and have more tolerance of mold and changes in diet. The single-chambered stomach and cecum or "hindgut" of the horse uses bacterial processes to break down cellulose that are more sensitive to changes in feeds and the presence of mold or other toxins, requiring horses to be fed hay of a more consistent type and quality.

Different animals also use hay in different ways: cattle evolved to eat forages in relatively large quantities at a single feeding, and then, due to the process of rumination , take a considerable amount of time for their stomachs to digest food, often accomplished while the animal is lying down, at rest. Thus quantity of hay is important for cattle, who can effectively digest hay of low quality if fed in sufficient amounts. Sheep will eat between two and four percent of their body weight per day in dry feed, such as hay, and are very efficient at obtaining the most nutrition possible from three to five pounds per day of hay or other forage.

They require three to four hours per day to eat enough hay to meet their nutritional requirements. Unlike ruminants, horses digest food in small portions throughout the day, and can only use approximately 2. Hay production and harvest, colloquially known as "making hay", "haymaking", or "doing hay", involves a multiple step process: cutting, drying or "curing", raking, processing, and storing.

Hayfields do not have to be reseeded each year in the way that grain crops are, but regular fertilizing is usually desirable, and overseeding a field every few years helps increase yield. Methods and the terminology to describe the steps of making hay have varied greatly throughout history, and many regional variations still exist today. However, whether done by hand or by modern mechanized equipment, tall grass and legumes at the proper stage of maturity must be cut, then allowed to dry preferably by the sun , then raked into long, narrow piles known as windrows.

Next, the cured hay is gathered up in some form usually by some type of baling process and placed for storage into a haystack or into a barn or shed to protect it from moisture and rot. During the growing season, which is spring and early summer in temperate climates , grass grows at a fast pace. It is at its greatest nutritive value when all leaves are fully developed and seed or flower heads are just a bit short of full maturity. When growth is at a maximum in the pasture or field, if judged correctly, it is cut.

Grass hay cut too early will not cure as easily due to high moisture content, plus it will produce a lower yield per acre than longer, more mature grass.

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But hay cut too late is coarser, lower in resale value and has lost some of its nutrients. There is usually about a two-week "window" of time in which grass is at its ideal stage for harvesting hay. The time for cutting alfalfa hay is ideally done when plants reach maximum height and are producing flower buds or just beginning to bloom, cutting during or after full bloom results in lower nutritional value of the hay.

Hay can be raked into rows as it is cut, then turned periodically to dry, particularly if a modern swather is used. Or, especially with older equipment or methods, the hay is cut and allowed to lie spread out in the field until it is dry, then raked into rows for processing into bales afterwards. During the drying period, which can take several days, the process is usually sped up by turning the cut hay over with a hay rake or spreading it out with a tedder.

If it rains while the hay is drying, turning the windrow can also allow it to dry faster. However, turning the hay too often or too roughly can also cause drying leaf matter to fall off, reducing the nutrients available to animals.


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Drying can also be sped up by mechanized processes, such as use of a hay conditioner, or by use of chemicals sprayed onto the hay to speed evaporation of moisture, though these are more expensive techniques, not in general use except in areas where there is a combination of modern technology, high prices for hay, and too much rain for hay to dry properly.