Hay & Silage



What about making hay the oldfashioned way?

It’s a slower pace, definitely less stressful, and it’s much better than a workout at the gym. There are a number of options but all of them mean you have more control over when and how the hay is made.
The process is similar to what a contractor would do but adapted to a smaller scale. It means cutting the hay and bringing it into a barn or shed loose, not in a bale. This way, the loose hay can be brought in out of the weather earlier and continue to ‘make’ in the barn (‘making’ means to dry further). Another advantage is that smaller quantities can be made over a period of time.
Hay is made between November and March, depending on where you live, but December to February is best as the days are longer and the dew lifts quicker giving more time for the hay to dry.
Windy days are excellent, so are hot, sunny ones when the hay dries quickly, but good hay can still be made on days when there was no wind or sun but it is warm – it just takes more days to dry.
On average you want at least three days of fine weather. The length of time depends on the type and thickness of the grasses – clover takes longer to dry for example, so too does dense, short grass.
You could use a brushcutter to cut a small area of grass, but an easier option is to use a slasher if you have one, or you can hire or borrow one, or ask a neighbour to cut the grass.
A hay mower does a better job than a slasher as it is designed for the purpose and creates neat cut grass. This puts the hay into an approximate row rather than spread out, making it easier to collect.
You can make hay out of any grass height and type but a mix that has some clover, as well as ryegrass makes great hay. It is better if the grass doesn’t go to seed before cutting, otherwise it loses its nutritional value.
Once cut, the grass is left for two days or more to dry, then is turned over manually with a hay fork to dry. The next day you can either fork it into piles to dry further, or if you feel it is dry enough, load it onto a trailer and take it into a barn or shed, preferably an open sided one.
When you take it in, the hay can still be green, but must be dry. Keep it loose inside the barn and fluff it up to let the air through it. Don’t pack it down by walking all over it, and it will still ‘make’ and smell delicious!
Unlike baled hay, loose hay is not broken up by the hay turner and baler, so it has longer stalks and is less dusty. Your animals will love it! Use a wheelbarrow to feed out, forking the hay in and taking it to hungry mouths in winter and during dry summer spells.
Use some kind of feeder or rack to prevent wastage. Throw it on the ground and animals will tread on it and be less inclined to eat it.

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