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When does hay get cut and why?

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  • When does hay get cut and why?

    This is one of those questions I want to ask the neighbor farmer but he would roll his eyes, so I'll ask here!

    Over a week ago most farmers cut all their hay here. But at least one farm that I ride by has fields of hay which have not been cut, and are now almost as high as my chest.

    Most farmers here cut hay several times in a season - I think sometimes three times.

    Why would someone leave hay in a field longer than everyone else? Does he only want time to cut twice? Does the nutritional content change for the better? (This is hay for dairy cows.)

    I know the early cutting can ruin the nesting of certain birds (there are bobolinks in the uncut fields, for example). But would a farmer change his production schedule just for that?

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    Maybe his tractor is in the shop ! Could be on vacation. Could be sick. Maybe the property is for sale. Who knows ?
    ... _. ._ .._. .._

    Comment


    • #3
      it all depends on the forage crop. Alfalfa, you wait for bloom, some grasses you wait for seed to set, some you don't. Also some places only get ONE cut, so timing is everything. And, yes, there are some that wait for nesting birds to get gone, but he is most likely waiting on something else. And, yes, nutritional make-up does change with crop maturity.

      I am waiting for someone to ask the same question he has asked for 10 years......why aren't they cutting your hay, an then the beating my head against the wall trying to explain to him it isnt ready. He doesnt get it.
      Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

      Member: Incredible Invisbles

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      • #4
        We just cut our first field of hay, and have about two others to cut. Procrastination and weather play a big part of cutting and baling.

        Here is a pretty good article on when and why farmers cut hay...

        http://hollinfarms.com/pages/hay.html

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Acertainsmile View Post
          We just cut our first field of hay, and have about two others to cut. Procrastination and weather play a big part of cutting and baling.

          Here is a pretty good article on when and why farmers cut hay...

          http://hollinfarms.com/pages/hay.html
          Oooh. Very helpful, thanks! Followup idiot question - how does a hayfield get to be hay? This is not something that gets planted each year - it's just what grows. On the other hand it's all grasses, mostly, not the really diverse selection of weeds you'd see on a plowed field left fallow. So was it planted at some time years ago and then it just does the perennial thing and keeps going year after year?

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          • #6
            2 more stupid questions:

            why is it called "making" hay? why not "baling" hay?

            and what is Bent?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by twofatponies View Post
              Oooh. Very helpful, thanks! Followup idiot question - how does a hayfield get to be hay? This is not something that gets planted each year - it's just what grows. On the other hand it's all grasses, mostly, not the really diverse selection of weeds you'd see on a plowed field left fallow. So was it planted at some time years ago and then it just does the perennial thing and keeps going year after year?
              You have to plant each year for Timothy and Alfalfa... but not for Orchard Grass... I'm pretty sure I'm right on with that, hubby has become more of the farmer that I have. I just bring cold drinks out to them when they are working...

              I still call it baling hay...

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Lambie Boat View Post
                2 more stupid questions:

                why is it called "making" hay? why not "baling" hay?

                and what is Bent?
                Because without the making part, curing, it is just cut grass (or legume). Baling is what you do to it once it becomes or is made into hay.

                Bent or Bentgrass is typically found on golf courses, some pastures and lawns.

                Everything you ever wanted to know about bent grass but were afraid to ask.

                http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/turf/pu...ions/bent.html

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lambie Boat View Post
                  why is it called "making" hay? why not "baling" hay?
                  Surely you've heard the saying "make hay when the sun shines". My guess is because hay wasn't always baled for storage, since balers weren't invented yet. Sometimes I say "making hay", sometimes I say "baling hay".

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Acertainsmile View Post
                    You have to plant each year for Timothy and Alfalfa... but not for Orchard Grass... I'm pretty sure I'm right on with that, hubby has become more of the farmer that I have. I just bring cold drinks out to them when they are working...

                    I still call it baling hay...
                    Locally, farmers plant the above seeds, Timothy, Orchardgrass or Alfalfa, and expect to cut from those growth stands for at least a couple years. Much longer if they keep them fertilized and cut on schedule. It would be cost prohibitive to be planting new stands each year, seed is REALLY expensive.

                    Making hay is the whole process, cutting, raking/windrowing and turning the windrows to dry the other side, so hay is dry enough, then you bale the dried cut stuff, at the end. Local farmers call it making hay, with baling only done on one day of that process. They are specific about calling each step by the proper name. Baling is not actually putting them in the barn.

                    Like you would call it jumping, cantering or trotting when asked what you are doing as someone watches you ride. Not using a particular word for an all-purpose meaning.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Alfalfa is pretty common in my neck of the woods, although there can be some grass mixed in. My friend has his own field and he rotates it every four years w/ a field used for crops (corn/soybeans.) He's got the new field seeded and is waiting for it to mature. He may or may not get any off it this year at all. And yes, the seed is VERY expensive.

                      In a good year, they can get four cuttings, but it all depends on the weather. The first cutting is typically pretty tough and is usually round baled, or both depending on the quality and weather.

                      This is the time of year when most around this area are making their first cutting, but it's been raining the last couple days, so it'll be pushed back. Might be a three cutting year.
                      A Merrick N Dream Farm
                      Proud Member of "Someone Special to me serves in the Military" Clique

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                      • #12
                        Wiki has an interesting article on hay:

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hay
                        www.moranequinephoto.com
                        "If I am fool, it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom."
                        Byron

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                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by MEP View Post
                          Wiki has an interesting article on hay:

                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hay
                          That's all fascinating!

                          The farmer cut one field of the five uncut fields today.

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                          • #14
                            very informative thread- thank you very much!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              In my neighborhood, the equipment is shared among several farms, so obviously they have to take turns.
                              If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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                              • #16
                                What?!? A thread on hay and no hair nor hide seen of Tamara in TN yet?

                                Either way, informative thread!
                                View my photographs at www.horsephotoguy.zenfolio.com

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                                • #17
                                  She's probably busy actually making hay!

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                                  • #18
                                    another hay term

                                    that I think I've invented: I get "hay envy" every year when I see hay fields in windrows when I'm still trying to pin down my custom baler to come do my field. Good hay guys are in high demand and you have to just try to fit into their schedule and pray for good weather when it comes time for your turn. I swear as I drive by those beautiful, sweet-smelling fields that have just been cut I just about go crazy wanting mine to get cut. Hence, Hay Envy. Dr HH has learned to talk me down from that particular ledge each year.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I have roughly 30 acres to grow my hay on (family owned land) and I plant every two years. (granted that there is enough growth) I do not have to reseed every year for alfalfa. I have a mix of 65% Timothy, 10% Alfalfa, 5% Red clover (no alsike) and 20 % other grasses like Blue grass and probably a little Fescu and perhaps a touch of orchard. I try to havest the Hay as soon as the tops of the timothy is just coming out of the shaft. That way it has a higher concentration of nutrition at that point. HOWEVER that is ideal but with wet weather I cannot cut for there will be some spoilage occuring and I cannot aford that. I have one cut done that is pretty close to my ideal ( a little mature but thats ok) and I dont let alfalfa come to flower except after the third cutting I let things grow and I do allow for the feild to seed itself essentialy before going dormant for the winter months.
                                      I am hoping to cut at prime harvest but the weather has been rather fracious and though its not time to cut yet I still keep check on things like weather and my feilds.

                                      I know this one guy who only cuts twice a year and lets his grasses go way beyond mature to seed and his hay is very stemmy, course, pale in colour and He does the roll bales. He sells it but I am not sure what it all contains and I dont know who is buying it or feeding to what animals.

                                      Idealy the best time to harvest grasses like orchard or timothy is just as the heads are emerging from the shafts. Alfalfa is best before maturity just before flowering and red clover is about the same with the top flowers are just emerging. Blue grass, Fescu and etc are also best before they come to head or just as they come to head.
                                      Its can be hard to cut when the grasses and legumes are at thier prime because of equipment failure, weather (the biggest), Personal issues, no buyers (if I didnt feed my own horses and goats with it I could make some money of my hay) or insect problems, and etc.

                                      Values of protein at PRIME or IDEAL harvest time and thus the more digestable nutrient content.

                                      Alfalfa hay - 16 to 18%
                                      Clover (red)- 14 to 16%
                                      Timothy - 7 to 10%

                                      My hay is usualy a little mature so my hays nutrient content and protein content is a little less. Below list what more than likely my hay consist in protein values. This is approximation values. Your legumes will have a higher concentration of protein, calcium, digestable energy and vitamin content esp vit. A. THe ratio between calcium and phosphorus for alfalfa is about 1.40 Ca:.20P, Timothy grass hay about .32Ca:.20P. WIth Cal. and Phos. ratio you always want your Cal. ratio to be higher than your Phos.

                                      Alfalfa is appx. 13 to 15
                                      Red Clover is appx. 12 to 13
                                      Timothy is appx. 8

                                      Legumes will always have a higher nutrient content than your grass hays at prime harvest.

                                      I wish my grazing pasture was as good as my hay pasture. It mostly contains timothy, bluegrass, some swatches of fescue and some weeds like dandilion, plantain, and clover of non red variety (I call it lawn clover because I see it mostly in lawns.) and other various grasses. I seed it every other year. I just dont do much weed control in it like I should. (Shame on me) I have two pastures that I rotate off and on. The pasture closer to the barn gets more wear and tear on it because the horses are in that pasture over the winter.


                                      The more mature the grasses are the more lignin and the less digestable nutrient content.
                                      Take time to stop and smell the flowers.

                                      Don't poke the Bear!

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                                      • #20
                                        Lord we could write a book just on this but here goes


                                        Over a week ago most farmers cut all their hay here. But at least one farm that I ride by has fields of hay which have not been cut, and are now almost as high as my chest.
                                        there are old school farmers who care about sheer volume alone...the taller and later the more numbers of bales they will have while quality will suffer

                                        Most farmers here cut hay several times in a season - I think sometimes three times.

                                        Why would someone leave hay in a field longer than everyone else? Does he only want time to cut twice? Does the nutritional content change for the better? (This is hay for dairy cows.)
                                        dairy hay should be cut at about less than knee high....there is a formula that gives <x> amount of nutritional decline for every day's growth over <x> height

                                        I know the early cutting can ruin the nesting of certain birds (there are bobolinks in the uncut fields, for example). But would a farmer change his production schedule just for that?

                                        Any thoughts?
                                        [/QUOTE]

                                        not if it pays his mortage...now it is possible that the land you see will be CRP land and they are required to wait til <x> to cut said land or the govt won't give them their welfare check on it...so more long unedible hay floods the market later

                                        best
                                        Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                                        I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

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