Tips for Increasing Hay Production
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
Many farm animals can survive by grazing on the land, but this isn’t a feasible option when the number of animals become too large or the amount of graze-able land is limited. To solve that problem, hay was introduced as a stable, high-quality animal feed that could be produced rapidly and in large amounts.
How is hay produced?
The process of producing hay has historically been through using a scythe to cut through foliage and stacking it. This old method of production is both time consuming and exhausting. With new and modernized techniques and tips in the farming industry, the production of hay has improved as a direct consequence.
Here are a few tips and insights to increase hay production:
- Choose the right field and seed
Soil pH of about 6.5 to 7 have been recorded to produce the largest amount of alfalfa growth. Additionally, weed prone field will find it more difficult to produce an abundance of high quality hay. Choosing the right seed is also important. Understanding your soil can allow you to choose the best seed for your field. Thereby maximizing your yield.
- Scout regularly and harvest responsibly
Scouting twice a week would be ideal for most alfalfa fields. Watching out for diseases and pests are essential for maximum production. In addition, harvesting at the right time is also important. Cut the alfalfa just before it blooms (at a relatively young maturity level) so the feed value is as high as possible. If you don’t cut the crop early enough, the stem and leaves will become less digestible for livestock as the crop continues to mature.
- Watch moisture levels and set hay up to dry the fastest
When you are raking the hay into bales, some moisture is a good thing. Around 14-15% for large square bales, 17-18% for big round bales, and 18-20% for small square bales is recommended. After the hay has been cut, you then rake it in order to get it into windrows. Then after that process you bale the hay with a hay baler which is where the moisture comes in to play. The moisture protects from serious leaf loss as they are raked.
- Protect Your Crop
The final tip is to protect your crop. If you know there is a storm coming or heavy rain, it would be best to move your bales under a tarp or into a shed. This is to protect them from getting moisturized again after they have dried. Moisture being added to hay after it has been hay can cause mold and mildew that can be harmful to horses and livestock.
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