Home' Smart Farmer : September 2010 Contents September 2010
By DAVID EAST
HERE are many benefits for
small property owners in
growing their own hay.
First and foremost it can supple-
ment animal feeding later in the sea-
son and, in some cases, generate
Growing hay on a small property
can also be an effective and econom-
ical way to control problem weeds
and tidy up a rough paddock.
In making hay, however, there are
many factors to consider, not the
least of these being the right time to
achieve the best quality and yield.
The best time to cut and
bale hay is when the crop
is at the watery ripe stage where
there is usually a good compromise
between quality and yield.
Hay cut at this stage is usually of
excellent quality with high levels of
crude proteins, water soluble carbo-
hydrates with low levels of fibres,
both acid detergent fibre and neutral
This means the hay will be a bet-
ter quality fod-
der for the livestock.
Generally speaking, the hay
should be cut when the sun shines
as soon as the crop is ready, because
there is usually only a short window
of opportunity to accommodate rain
and contracting issues.
Cutting hay later than this stage
will lower the quality.
The hay should be baled quickly
to reduce weather damage and loss-
es from transpiration.
Small property owners generally
have several choices for making hay,
dependent on equipment owned, if
any, and using a contractor to carry
out the whole haymaking operation
that includes mowing, raking and
baling, or just one or two of those
If using a contractor they should
be contacted well in advance,
because at the time of high season
activity small landholders with small
amounts of work may be a lower pri-
ority compared with large farmers.
However, some local farmers or
contractors may be willing to carry
out all or some haymaking opera-
tions for barter or on a share basis.
A good point to remember is that
cutting hay with a mower condition-
er causes the hay to dry faster than
Conditioning the hay not only
enables rapid early drying, but also
helps curtail the transpiration rate
and preserves quality.
Baling the hay should be carried
out when its moisture content has
dropped to 15 per cent.
This prevents moulding and heat-
ing in the bale, but the plants are still
moist enough to prevent excessive
leaf shattering during the baling
Judging moisture for baling is not
easy, but there are two tests that can
be done. Twist a few stems from the
windrow and examine the joints - if
moisture is evident the crop is too
moist. The bark test is another
method -- scratch the stem of the
plant with a fingernail -- the outer
layer will lift if it is too moist, but
will not if the crop is dry enough.
Finally what type of baled hay is
There are big square bales, round
bales and small rectangular bales.
Choose the type according to the
on-property equipment available to
handle the bales -- this is particular-
ly important when it comes to stor-
ing and feeding out.
• Need to know more?
Colin Pearce, Australian Fodder
Industry Association 03 9530 2199 or
Hay production for small landholdings
Small landholders may choose to bale their own hay or call on the services of a contractor.
Effictive and economical
Organise contractor well in
Test for moisture before baling
The size and type of bale you choose will depend on the equipment you have
for handling and storage.
Lift -- transfer -- dump = all in ONE
• Self loading
• High reach
• Ideal for small and
• No terrain too rough
Wide range of models
to suit different tasks
For more info please contact:
Mike 0400 968 409 or Robert 0414 451 513
• Versatile • Mobile
• Flexible • Top quality
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