How To Produce High Quality Hay

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016
Tractor hauling large round bales of hay

Whether you are growing hay for your own operation or selling it to others, you should make sure your crop is of the best quality possible. Your number one priority is to produce a high-quality product in a cost effective way. The following tips will help you grow high quality hay without breaking your budget.

Selecting forage type

One of the most important things you can do is select a forage type you know will produce high quality hay. The grass should retain as many leaves as possible, since leaves contain two thirds of the crop’s protein. No matter what variety you choose, your hay has to be harvested at the right time to retain the optimum nutritional value and yield. Forage crops will produce more as they are maturing, but the mature plants will lose nutritional value.

Cutting and drying hay correctly

It is important to cut hay in a way that it can be dried and baled without losing any quality. Cut and lay the grass in loose, wide windrows in order to assist in baling. When swathing your crop, ensure a long stubble remains to promote air circulation and drying. Swathers will crush the cuticles of the plant, just as desiccants. To save your money and time, try using a machine that sprays the desiccant, conditions, swaths, and forms a windrow.

Dry the hay until it has a 20 percent moisture content. Forage can contain up to 90 percent moisture, making drying critical. Windrows should be designed to dry the grass evenly and quickly. Turning the windrows over will further aid in the drying process. Be aware that exceptionally hot weather can cause the forage to become brittle, thus lowering hay quality. If this is the case, turn off irrigation days before swathing to give the plants and ground time to dry.

Avoiding mold and placing hay in storage

Mold will turn your hay brown and cause other issues beyond cosmetics as well. It is best you avoid mold by applying a preservative. Another way to prevent mold is to avoid baling of high-moisture forage. Finally, store your crop in chopped, long, dehydrated, or baled form. Proper storage methods can help you maintain high quality hay.

If you would like to learn more about high quality hay and livestock feed, contact SB Hay & Feed in Amarillo, Texas. Call us at today (800) 652-3036 or Contact Us by email. We will be happy to direct you to the right products for your animals and answer any questions you may have. You can also see the high quality hay we have available to buy or sell your own!