Unrolling hay

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BFE

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AF66A728-7072-4853-A90D-D1D696831221.jpegThis is my soybean field which I grazed last winter in corn stalks. The darker streak is from where I unrolled one bale of hay as an experiment.Late season soybeans are a great way to learn about soil and plant health, as the healthier ones stay green longer as evidenced in this picture. I should’ve taken it a couple days earlier, it was even more evident but I think the picture speaks for itself.
 

Lee VanRoss

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Do you have any concern about the delay in maturity of the darker color? From here it looks like you could be 3-5 weeks from
a combine. or do you need a frost?
 
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BFE

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Not really. I had a field last year that I fed hay in and planted to soybeans the following year. You could see where each ring was in the beans, they were a little taller and held onto a few leaves longer, but they cut easy enough. I'm a no tiller, but have to work up the places where hay is fed, to rough. The unrolling thing makes sense to me, but haven't had a good way to do it, but this little experiment shows me all I need to know, that's a very noticeable difference in fertility. I have to get on the stick and get my unroller built this winter.

I'm also going to do some cover crop strips to see if there's a noticeable difference in the beans. Side by side is the best way to compare IMHO.

No doubt the covers will help, just want to see the difference it will make. I'll graze the covers as well.
 

Rydero

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Amazing what it can do for the soil. Makes me want more cows to cover more ground in a winter. I'm always a little surprised how the nutrients/effects are so specific to where you feed and don't spread out more. That's why I've done more and more unrolling as time goes on
 
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BFE

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I know this is for small timers like me, it would take a lot of cattle to cover a lot of acres. It’s pretty exciting though, to see that kind of difference that fast.
 

Stocker Steve

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Soy beans really like K. Intense bale grazing will result in 200 to 400 ppm of K. The beans will luxury feed, and then stalks can become huge hollow "canes" that plug your combine.

I have not done a lot of unrolling, but I think you are on the right track.
 
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BFE

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Soy beans really like K. Intense bale grazing will result in 200 to 400 ppm of K. The beans will luxury feed, and then stalks can become huge hollow "canes" that plug your combine.

I have not done a lot of unrolling, but I think you are on the right track.
I've not had that problem yet, but it is obvious from the combine seat the difference in the plants. I'm going to do some on pasture that I winter on. I've got four pastures, three with really good grass, and the fourth here at my home is not from the pressure in the winter. I try to keep the cows on the adjacent crop field as much as I can, feed hay in the crop field, keep the majority of the pasture empty until close to spring, but they're still hard on the fescue. hopefully I can improve that as well.
 

FarmerShell

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I used to do experiments... 🤣🤨😝 some good some not so good. Yours looks good.
 

shaz

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I know this is for small timers like me, it would take a lot of cattle to cover a lot of acres. It’s pretty exciting though, to see that kind of difference that fast.
It seems like the more animal impact the better. Where the cows have really torn up the grass the most seems to do the best in the spring for some reason. Just an observation on my part take it for what it's worth.
 

damengineer

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I improved a lot of my pasture by moving the feeders around and then running the batwind mower through it in the spring. I saw a pictue in FarmShow where a fellow welded a short axle with tires & wheels about 3 ft wide on a couple of pipes to fit over his bale forks. then when he sets a bale down he can unroll it bypushing it with the axle and it rolls out... I have one of those bale unrollers that fits on the 3 point. I can never get the prongs centered to roll right, and it always leaves a big off sided chunk in the field. It is not worth a flip to carry a bale very far as it tears out of the end, it was also nearly $1000 when I bought it.. The axle idea is one I am going to build now that the cooler weather is coming on. I never like to weld inside as I know too many shops that have burned down due to sparks coming alive after the shop was closed up....
 

damengineer

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It seems like the more animal impact the better. Where the cows have really torn up the grass the most seems to do the best in the spring for some reason. Just an observation on my part take it for what it's worth.
I think the tearing up oad ht eground get she old hay stomped down into the ground and also lets snowmelt and rain go in better... Very much what intense grazing systems do...
 

bird dog

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I have unrolled in some old hay in some bad erosion spots when its muddy. Cows waste a lot trampling it in but you will have some grass the next spring that will help fix the bad spot a and slow down the erosion.
 
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BFE

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Update. We've cut the beans both here and across the road on my dad's place. Mine made 9 more bushels per acre on more rolling ground, same variety of beans, same management. Had two main hay feeding areas in addition to the unrolled spot, which amounted to 2-3 acres total. The cows had access to all of mine for grazing cornstalks from Nov-April every other year for the last few years. My side of the road has also had wheat or cereal rye and red clover planted for many years following beans for a single hay crop the following spring.

I believe the added activity is showing up in my yields. Dad's side of the road lays fallow all winter. We almost exclusively no till. As Rydero said above, makes me want to cover more acres with more cows. I may buy some stockers to run on stalks on a few fields to accomplish this. If I could get double duty out of more acres, that's the same as renting more without the expense, plus adding fertility for the crops.

I could also buy first/second stage cows in Nov and sell them as third stage or pairs early spring. Not many people looking to feed them through the winter, so possibly some money to be made there with good management.

Any thoughts on any of this? I know many of you don't row crop, but nearly everyone does here. Only one full time cattleman in our area. None of it will make me rich, but unfortunately I was bitten by the farming bug at a young age, and have been afflicted nearly my whole life.
 

damengineer

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Not really. I had a field last year that I fed hay in and planted to soybeans the following year. You could see where each ring was in the beans, they were a little taller and held onto a few leaves longer, but they cut easy enough. I'm a no tiller, but have to work up the places where hay is fed, to rough. The unrolling thing makes sense to me, but haven't had a good way to do it, but this little experiment shows me all I need to know, that's a very noticeable difference in fertility. I have to get on the stick and get my unroller built this winter.

I'm also going to do some cover crop strips to see if there's a noticeable difference in the beans. Side by side is the best way to compare IMHO.

No doubt the covers will help, just want to see the difference it will make. I'll graze the covers as well.
I saw a picture of a homemade unroller afewmonths ago. Feller built an axle less than 4 ft wide with pipes that his bale forks would fit into and welded to the axle. Had 14 or 15 inch tires on the axle. He would lay the bale down with wrap off and then pick up the axle on the forks and push the bale until it was unrolled... Sure beat the $1000 unroller I bought 2 yeara ago and will not hold a bale on the arms for a mile..
 

damengineer

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See if that works.
 

Lucky

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Was the hay you unrolled on the greener spot fertilized? The reason I ask is 2 years in a row I fed some Jiggs hay that was fertilized between every cutting. I was told that you can get about $20 worth of fertilizer from every bale you unroll. I unrolled probably 350-400 rolls on about 60 acres over a 2 feeding seasons and can’t believe the difference it made. These were 4x6 rolls that avgd 1100# each. The down side was I wasn’t getting the benefit of any grass seed from those rolls and it at $65-70 a roll it was very expensive. The last 2 yrs I’ve fed some good Bermuda hay but it’s not fertilized, I’m getting some Bermuda coming up in those pastures but not the effects from fertilizer. I’m really thinking about building my own hay fields after seeing this. I’ve avoided growing my own hay because I can generally buy it cheaper than I can grow it.

I’ve been unrolling 95% of the hay fed for 7-8 yrs now and really believe that allot of the problems I read on here about unrolling can be remedied by having a quality unroller and experimenting until you find what works best for you. It really matters how you carry the bale with the unroller and which direction you unroll the hay depending on weather conditions. The one thing you can’t help is a hard down pour or really sloppy mud. When it comes to sloppy mud. I’ve pretty well found away around the sloppy mud part too. Another issue I hear from my neighbors about is cows not eating all the hay. Cows are not going to eat weeds out of a hay ring either, feeding weed free hay is important for several reasons.
 
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BFE

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I’m a farm show subscriber myself. One of the best publications out there IMO.

I have a nh3 wagon frame that broke out in the field I got for free. Need to weld on a hitch and make a bale caddy to get what I want. It will basically be Greg Judy style.
 
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BFE

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Was the hay you unrolled on the greener spot fertilized? The reason I ask is 2 years in a row I fed some Jiggs hay that was fertilized between every cutting. I was told that you can get about $20 worth of fertilizer from every bale you unroll. I unrolled probably 350-400 rolls on about 60 acres over a 2 feeding seasons and can’t believe the difference it made. These were 4x6 rolls that avgd 1100# each. The down side was I wasn’t getting the benefit of any grass seed from those rolls and it at $65-70 a roll it was very expensive. The last 2 yrs I’ve fed some good Bermuda hay but it’s not fertilized, I’m getting some Bermuda coming up in those pastures but not the effects from fertilizer. I’m really thinking about building my own hay fields after seeing this. I’ve avoided growing my own hay because I can generally buy it cheaper than I can grow it.

I’ve been unrolling 95% of the hay fed for 7-8 yrs now and really believe that allot of the problems I read on here about unrolling can be remedied by having a quality unroller and experimenting until you find what works best for you. It really matters how you carry the bale with the unroller and which direction you unroll the hay depending on weather conditions. The one thing you can’t help is a hard down pour or really sloppy mud. When it comes to sloppy mud. I’ve pretty well found away around the sloppy mud part too. Another issue I hear from my neighbors about is cows not eating all the hay. Cows are not going to eat weeds out of a hay ring either, feeding weed free hay is important for several reasons.
Yes it was. Either way it will help the soil.
 

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