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Baleing hay

504RP

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I have been seeing alot of hay being baled as quick as the day after it was cut. Not being baled for silage, just round bales to feed cattle.

What am i missing here ? Won't baleing hay without curing for a little while cause problems like mold, possible fire etc...., is it necessary to let hay cure for a couple, maybe 3 days before baleing it ?
 

504RP

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Also, what moisture content should hay be when your baleing it for cattle instead of silege ?
 

simme

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So many variables involved. Around 15% moisture. But, it depends on type of hay/grass, location, how it is baled, time of day it is baled, etc. With experience, you are better able to decide when to bale by feeling and twisting the hay. If the stems snap like uncooked spaghetti, it is past time to bale. If the stems bend like a rope, it is too wet to bale. If the hay has been conditioned, it will dry quicker and be ready to bale sooner. If it is teddered at the right time, it will dry quicker. Amount of sun and humidity make a big difference. A moisture tester measures surface moisture which is influenced by relative humidity of the air. If the stem still has too much moisture, the tester may read ok, but the moisture will rise after it is baled due to the moisture coming out of the stems. If it is sorghum/sudan, the stem will have lots of moisture and will benefit from a conditioner with rollers that crush the stem as opposed to an impeller type conditioner that beats the wax layer off the stem and is more effective on grass hay.

But good quality hay is not ready to bale the next day after cutting. Poor quality over mature hay maybe. That's the way it is in my part of the country. Hay will be wetter as soon as it is baled. More so the next day. Risk of mold is high if too wet. Risk of fire as well.

High yielding good quality spring hay here is going to need about 5 days of curing - depending on all the variables. Lots of people bale too wet, especially if they are selling the hay.
 

JMJ Farms

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I’m in Middle Georgia. With temps in the high 90s we can bale the day after cutting most of the time. The key for us is that the hay needs “(2) 12:00 suns” Meaning that if we have sunshine and we can get it cut before lunch on day 1, tedder it that afternoon, then we can bale after lunch on day 2. Sometimes requires another trip with the tedder in front of the rake. If it gets overcast it takes another day. This is Bermuda grass.
 

M.Magis

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With hot temps, low humidity, and a good breeze, baling the day after cutting is possible. Around here, two days drying is normal until fall when the night time dew gets heavy.
 

504RP

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How bad does it hurt the quality of hay after it has been rained on ?
 

M.Magis

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Depends how dry it is when it gets wet, and how wet it gets. Rain hours after cutting is no big deal to me. Rain right before baling is worst case, but its still feed if it dries quickly.
 

Stickney94

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As others have said your location and weather are critical.

In my area grass hay can be ready the next day. Although that usually requires full sun, 85 degrees, and a full blast SW wind. Those aren't uncommon factors, but in most cases 2-3 days works better.

Alfalfa or alfalfa mix is another story.

I just conversed with my 85 year old father and he said, "There are guys that say hay needs to sit for a week before you can bale. I think that's a bit of overkill. 2-3 days is almost always fine."
 

Dsth

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504RP said:
How bad does it hurt the quality of hay after it has been rained on ?
the dryer the hay when it gets rained on, the worse it is. it is important to get hay that has been rained on dried out ASAP. either raking or teddering because the rain water sitting in the hay causes odors that cows do not like and increases mold before the hay is baled. Hay in Iowa can get baled dry the next day if it is thin and is mostly grass (not alfalfa). The best way that I have found to determine if hay will keep is moisture test with a probe after baling. Depending on how tight the bales are after baling determines how well it will keep at a determined moisture. The same hay that feels a little damp out in the field will usually keep just fine baled as small square that are not real tight and test about 22% moisture, the same hay may test 25% moisture wrapped somewhat tight in round or big square bales and not keep very well at all, if it is balled tight in round or big squares it may test 30% and not keep at all and heat to the point of fire danger. Hay Preservative can help reduce the heat in hay baled wet and help preserve quality. I generally let my hay dry 4 days before big square baling, but weather plays a big part in drying time. Sometimes the hardest part of making hay is waiting for it to dry.
 

504RP

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What about feeding last years hay that has been sitting outside ? I know my net wrap bales toward the end of winter lose about at least 1 foot or is for the most part rotted 1 foot on the outside of the roll's. Exspeally on the bottom of the bale.

I know it is probably molded . Can mold kill a cow ? Will a cow eat moldy hay ?
 

JMJ Farms

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504RP said:
What about feeding last years hay that has been sitting outside ? I know my net wrap bales toward the end of winter lose about at least 1 foot or is for the most part rotted 1 foot on the outside of the roll's. Exspeally on the bottom of the bale.

I know it is probably molded . Can mold kill a cow ? Will a cow eat moldy hay ?

Won’t hurt them. Quality will be poorer than last year but lots of times the cows actually prefer the older hay over new hay for some reason.
 

chevytaHOE5674

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If your net wrapped bales are losing 1 foot to rot over winter are the bales tight and solid to start?

I just opened up a 1 year old bale that has been sitting outside with 200 inches of snow on it, 50+ inches of rain, temps from -40 to +105 degrees. And there is maybe 3-4" of waste on the outside.
 

504RP

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I am having bad luck this year baleing hay. Early Spring where i am. We had unusual amounts of rain. My hay fields had grass knee deep, growing lile gang busters. Just warm enough that grass would grow. But too wet with no window in sight to bale it.

It had been raining like that for months. I run out of hay. So i thought i would graze my hay fields down before i moved the cows to my summer pasture.

Didn't let them graze it down to nothing. But right after i moved them to my summer pasture. It quits raining, doesn't rain a drop for at least 2 months if not more. Temps have averaged upper 90's alot of time 104 degrees. Ungodly humidity. My hay fields don't hardly grow at all.

So i miss the first cutting. Don't even get enough rain to put out fertilizer. Finally got a little shower now and then, enough to get a little growth on the grass.

The grass was big enough i decided to bale and thought it was going to eventually start raining soon. Had no rain in the forecast. Lot of neighbors starting cutting hay. So did i. 2 hours after i finished cutting 60 acres of pretty decent grass. It rained about 2 inches on it.

I don't have a tedder. The next day the sun came out. Temp in the mid 90's, lots of humidity. I let it lay out to dry that day. Wind rowed it the next and let it dry again the next day. Baled 63 4x5's the next day before it started raining and has been raining since yesterday. And has an 80 % chance for tomorrow. I can't win for losing.

I don't know what to do with the 63 bales i baled or with what i am going have to still bale if for nothing else to get it off of the field. I don't know wether to try to feed it, dispose of it or what.

I baled it with a silage baler. It puts up a big bale for a 4x5, probably a 900 lb + net wrap bale. The moisture measured anywhere from 6 %, to 12% to 24% to wet.

I don't know what to do.
 

504RP

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We had an unusual wet year starting in early Spring last year running plumb up into this Spring. That hay got soaked more than it would have in a normal year. I guess the foot of loss i am talking about was more on the side of the bale that it was laying on. Maybe not quite a foot loss on the top side of the bale, maybe more like 4 or 5 inches there.
 

504RP

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What makes it worse. These droute type conditions is like as if it is in spots. I can drive 50 miles in any direction and it seems like some people are cutting some hay, enough to get by. Maybe not bumper crops but enough. I don't know what to make of it.

I know things are not working out very good for me this year. There is a 40 acre field next to my place. Covered up with nut grass, never seen a field with nut grass as thick as that. Then the other stuff growing is velvet panssium, dead butter cups, rag weed. Careless weeds. And thats about it.

This boy cuts/ bales that every year. He will only cut it once ocassionly twice a year. Averaging a couple hundred bales. Every year he will set it on the edge of the field. 3/4 sometimes all of it sits right there untill it has rotted down to nothing.

This year i seen him spray the field. Don't what chemical he used. But it wasn't for nut grass. Just turned it and some of the other weeds a little brown.
He cut that whole 40 acres him and his son the day before yesterday. Started raking yesterday morning. Started bailing that afternoon up until it started raining. He got about a third of it baled
Before he quit baleing.
 

JMJ Farms

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Embrace the rain and do the best you can. Excessive rain still beats a drought hands down. I’ve got pastures that you could set on fire and burn. Love to see some mud about now.
 

504RP

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JMJ, Your 100 % right. I can't remember exactly how many years back that it was that here we were in a major droute. A real droute, not like what i have going on now.

I said then that when that droute was to end. I would never complain about the rain again. For the most part i have kept that attitude. I have grumble a little every now and then when the rain has caused me a little bit of inconvince like what i have going on now. But i will get through it somehow. I won't come out of this like i would have if it wasn't from all of these unforeseen mishaps that has taken place lately. But i will get through it. And the last thing i want it to do is syop raining.

Talking to a friend this morning who is a devout Christian. He has been after me for years to go to church with him. I told him i was going with him starting this Sunday. That i now i have made someone mad because my farm is the only farm in the area that has been in droute for the last 3 months and flooded out the first time i cut have with zero percent chance of rain in the forecast before i cut it. Lol !!!

He got a big laugh out of it. Lol !!! A good friend of mine use to say. " A quiter never wins and a winner never quits ! " Well i wont quit, can't quit, but i don't know about the winner part of his saying.
 
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