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Making hay

I can't claim to be an expert on hay, but I've certainly learnt an awful lot about making it over the past few weeks!

Since owning cattle we have spent a lot of money on hay, in round bales and square bales, to feed to our animals when we ran low on grass.  For ages I couldn't understand why the cattle didn't eat the dead dry grass in winter.  It seemed to me to be exactly the same as hay.  Well I only recently figured out that hay is not just dead dry grass!  Hay is grass cut in its prime and allowed to dry to just the right amount before baling.  Hay contains maximum nutrition for the cattle, that's why they like it so much.

When we purchased our new property, a crop of forage sorghum on the top cultivation area had just been cut for hay, and was starting to grow back.  By the time we owned the property 6 weeks later, it was ready to be cut again.  We engaged a contractor (neighbour) to cut the sorghum using a "mower conditioner" which cuts the stems near the base and feeds them through rollers, so that the stems are crushed and will dry more evenly.  We allowed the sorghum to dry on the ground for several days and then ran over it with  a "hay rake" that we bought with the property.  This turns the hay to allow it to dry more evenly.  Depending on the hay and weather, this may be done several times, but as we had hot dry days and only a thin covering of sorghum, we only ran over it once.  Our neighbour then came back and baled the hay into large round bales, which we stacked in the hay shed, using the hay spike on the tractor.

the sorghum when we bought the property
after the sorghum was cut
raking the sorghum into windrows
raking finished
And then baled by our neighhour
Moving the bales in the shed
Two little helpers....
48 bales from just a small section of our cultivation area
It may seem like a lot of work to make this hay, but we know that it will help our future herd of cattle gain weight more quickly and make more money.  We don't know what kind of hay will be the best yet, we want to try a few different ideas and learn for ourself how to improve the cattle weight gain most effectively.

Do you make hay?  Any tips?

Comments

  1. I also wondered why the cattle didn't just eat the dry grass...

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  2. The hay smells so good when it is curing, cattle will eat lower quality hay than horses but it is best to give them the good stuff like you are doing. I cut mine with a scythe and turn and load it with a hand fork and put it up loose. At least I don't have to pay for a membership at the gym living here.

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  3. We always used square bales on our farm. We would put up 1000's of bales each summer for our 100 plus head of cattle! This brings back memories!

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  4. Very interesting, hopefully we can do the same on our property soon..the grass is certainly long enough at the moment!

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  5. Sounds like another farming task mastered to me.

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  6. Hi, just found your blog. We live in Illinois, USA and have mny critters, do many farm things...I'll be back to check on yu soon !

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  7. yes I love the smell of hay! but I don't think this is a farm task mastered just yet, this lot of hay come out pretty good, because we were lucky with the weather, but who knows what the next lot will be like! Sunnybrook, I can't believe you do all that work by hand, it would be very good exercise, good on you!

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  8. Neat! You guys really are real farmers now. Not that you weren't before, there's just something about haymaking that equals farm to me v

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  9. Hi Liz
    I just had to follow your link & come visit!! I look forward in reading your farming endeavours! We haven't made hay for a couple of years since we have a good supply in our hay shed. Your bales look great & isn't the smell of hay just wonderful! I had to laugh as I looked down your post ~ you mentioned you had the same seeder as us, well your blue tractor looks much the same as the one we own ( I call old blue).
    Lovely to meet you ~ I will visit again!
    Blessings
    Renata:)

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  10. Making your own hay saves SO much money, even if you have to contract out some of the work! We've done that and have also traded labor for hay.

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