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How do farmers make hay?

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Quick Answer

Hay making converts green, fresh forage into an easily portable product without danger of damage and fear of nutrients and dry matter loss.There are various ways of making hay, which can result in different quality of the final product. Baum Farm states that the forage is mowed, and left to dry before being baled.

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According to Baum Farm in Vermont, the main requirement to make quality hay is good soil. To get good hay proper soil maintenance is necessary. Soil has to be tested to establish its fertility, and determine if it lacks any substances. Natural fertilizer such as lime, wood ash and manure has to be applied to the soil.

When harvesting hay, proteins and digestible nutrients infiltrate the plant until it attains optimum maturity. Forage mass, protein and digestibility is at its highest level just before it starts to seed. Forage has to be harvested at this point before its nutritional value starts to diminish.

The mower cut height has to be properly set during harvesting. Cutting forage too short, compromises its re-growth. To ensure quick re-growth, a higher cut is necessary. A harvesting mower with a floating head maintains a constant height while moving across the field.

Forage mowing must be done in the afternoon. The amount of sugar in the forage is highest during greatest exposure to sunshine. It is this sugar that constitutes the energy in the hay.

Agriculture and Consumer Protection explains that forage can be artificially conditioned for quick drying. Turning and tedding allows for even drying, while reducing the danger of fermentation or mold development. Windrowing involves arranging the forage into rows for organized handling, collection and protection from the elements. Trussing or separating the forage into small heaps allows for further drying. Traditionally, hay is transported and stored. In the modern days, hay is bailed before storage.

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