Hay consists of dried plants such as grasses and is used for feeding livestock especially to cattle and horses. They are found mainly in winters when fresh grass is difficult to be found. Cows residing in your dairy farm require 20 to 30 pounds (i.e. 9 to 14 Kg) of hay on daily basis in the months of winter. Grasses which are used to make hay are redtop, orchard, bromegrass and timothy. There are few other plants as well which are used for hay such as alfalfa, oats and clover. Hay’s nutritious value varies but it is usually rich in carbohydrates. Remember that hay which are grown from clover, alfalfa and other legumes are rich in proteins.
Mowing is the first step in order to make hay. Remember that you need to be very careful when mowing as cutting it early or late will damage. In case you mow it late, hay’s nutritious value will be lowered. On the other hand if you cut the hay early, it will contain sap in large quantity. Thus hay will be difficult to dry.
After mowing, hays are raked by machines in order to make windrows i.e. loose piles. Hays are placed in a way that it catches the wind and dry quickly. In order to dry it faster, some people do tedding of the hay. If following this method, you are required to stir the hay piles on the ground.
Remember that if hay is not dried quickly, it will lose its food value. This is why in rainy areas, hay is taken directly to chopping purposes. It is artificially dried after chopping and then made into pellets or placed inside sacks. This is much better and faster way of drying. Despite making better hay, this process is expensive.
Hay is often bound into bales. By this it can easily be transferred or shipped into other areas. It is also more convenient and inexpensive to carry. Remember that a hay bale carries about 75 to 150 pounds of hay.
Usually hay is stored in a loft. These consist of special air blowers or heaters which help in boosting of hay drying. Remember that the bacteria in the air can react with hay in case it is not dried properly. It will cause hay to ferment.