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2024 Hay

Well this last week of getting hay done has not gone well. Starting with the rainy spring, into June with rain every 3-4 days. Grass growth was phenominal! But the pasture we saved for hay went over height. Then with winds, we had quite a lot of the grass that fell over because we could not cut it earlier. Never had that before, do NOT want it again! Miserable to cut, so thick the mower/conditioner was choking trying to shoot the cut stuff out behind! Husband spent much longer cutting than such a small area deserved.

The hayfields (not used for pasture) were also tall and thick, but much less effort to cut. Their grasses were not laid over, did not need such effort to get thru. Still took two days to get them cut, with 4 days of hot, clear weather predicted. Weather folks lied! Got a drenching rain Monday with accompaning thunder and lightning. Thunder nearly shook me out of bed!! I checked the rain gauge, an inch and 4/10s was the reading!! Amazing.

Husband got on the phone to his friend “Dennis’ Hay Help Line” for advice. They talked. Dennis said leave it lay, dry in the sun. Then ted it when dry. Hot and windy day did it’s work, was able to ted the now dry hay before evening. We figured any dew would be off early in the heat, to rake and start baling. Get the bales on the wagons for unloading in the barn to be ahead. We had help coming to put hay away later the next day. That part went mostly according to schedule. Had issues with the baler knotter not holding on one side, exploding bales as they came down the bale accumulator. Took a bit to get that worked out, then the windrows were so thick it was packing up feeding into the baler. Already in low range, first gear, can’t go any slower, but I did by stopping, letting baler pull hay in when it got really thick. Still had to stop and clear the baler feed a number of times. Garden hand fork claw was VERY helpful with that. Add in 90+F and we were all getting a bit crabby!! We could not stay ahead with wagons for the unloader guys, so we sent them home. We loaded all the wagons, hauled them home, put under cover, went back to get the extra bales. I knew we had more than wagons could haul. 4 bales at a time with the bale grapple on tractor, into the little barn, equaling 40 bales. Glad the hay field is just across the road!

Tucked everything away for the night with more rain predicted. Yep, got up to wet ground, almost half an inch in the rain gauge! Rain is a blessing, but timing is poor. That’s farming for you! The unloader guys arrived on time, got the wagons emptied, drank all the Gatorade and water they could hold. They enjoyed having the horse fan to stand in front of during frequent breaks! Not trying to kill them into heatstroke. They were all soaked in short order after arrival. We told them that was the end of it with hay getting rained on a second time. I paid them with a good tip each. No complaining, worked well together, arrived promptly. Lovely crew of workers!

Husband found a guy to come round bale the stuff still on the ground. He tedded it yesterday, breaking up the windrows to dry again. Pasture grass was difficult, still had green grass lumps. Baler guy was HOPING he could bale today but it is raining again in showers. We talked about green chopping it but no one has a chopper with no dairy cattle nearby. We need to get the cut stuff off as the grass is visibly longer since cutting! We probably lost almost 250 small bales to the wet. But what we put up looks quite nice. Horses will like it. Everyone he talked to has put up rained-on hay before, instead of losing the whole cutting. “Just get it dry again before baling” was the common remark. They had no mold or dust issues feeding that hay to their own horses. They laughed that “rinsed clean hay is never dusty!” And the few nutrients washed away, did not hurt their already-fat horses any. Ours are almost air-ferns, so a few less calories won’t them either. We have very good hay with yearly fertilizer applications.

A second cutting should be more hay than we need to fill both barns. The round bales will go to auction. No place for it and some cattle will really enjoy it. We sold a horse, so one less to feed as well. Our horses only need about 1100 bales when there were nine horses. Baler count was 868. With me figuring 40 or more exploding bales that got rebaled and 10 or so “heavy” bales we set off to the side with a fan on them to dry more. We are in good shape and second cutting still to come. The unloader guys said to call when we need help again! Lovely to hear that!

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Push some of that rain South, down my way!
We’re borderline drought, after the same rainy Spring with some early Summer touch & go rainfalls that never added up to much in between :grimacing:

My “hayfield” - really just an L- shaped area on my property, totalling ~2ac - got cut Monday & baled Wednesday.
Faux Grandsons BIL did it & he has all the fancy equipment, including AC for the tractor cabin & a grappler.
Got 4 big rounds off my acreage & more from the neighbor North of me who shares the lotline.
FG arranged for me to be paid in small squares :ok_hand:
Another friend, not too far, just got her 1st cutting in. Nice orchard grass w/some alfalfa.
I’m tempted, but nothing on my farm needs the extra punch of the legume :confused:
They’re all fat & shiny on 1st cut grass hay.

I’ll sleep better when my barn is full of a year’s worth of hay, but won’t be tossing & turning unless July comes & goes without that happening.
Might have to push that deadline into August this year.

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It is never the same year to year is it? We were able to get a discmower ( used we put some work into it) last year and sold our haybine as it took forever to get it cut with having to go so slow and it clogging up over and over. We put up a lot of hay so it has been a blessing.

We also purchased a tedder and wonder how we got along without one! We tedder the hay as soon as it is cut and that takes a day off our dry time–you should try that if your hay friend is available.

Nice when you can get it in. We have turned off dry now and we need rain but we have hay down right now and so far have not had any get rained on but we have a lot more to cut…

I will say the quality is good this year and so are the yields. Rain was abundant until 2 weeks ago.

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Glad you got your hay done too. The Minnesota Extension site says that alfalfa is actually tested low sugar, under 10 in their studies! I was quite surprised to read that, but called a friend with a horse who does NOT need sugary hay. She has been soaking her hay, asked me what else could she do because of wet mess come winter with soaking. Beyond the Teff hay, I was at a loss until I read that about the alfalfa having low sugar.

She said talking to her hay source, he would plant some Teff grass for her. He had been thinking to try it. Only has the one horse, so even a small crop, maybe multiple cuttings, would let him make money on it after she gets her hay. So it looks like she is set for winter, with alfalfa hay available as a fallback, to not need winter soaking mess,

The trick with Alfalfa is that horses need extra phosphorus to be added to match the calcium in the hay. Should be 1 to 1 equal for MATURE animals. But Alfalfa hay having less sugar than most grass hay, might make it worth the balancing effort for laminitis prone animals.

I would be willing to share some rain with you! Hay should be in abundance if they can dry and bale fast enough!

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My grass hay, which my farmer cuts early in the day, comes in between 7-9% NSC.

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We have been hearing very good things about the disc cutters. But we got a deal on the mower/conditioner, don’t think we want to spend for the better cutter with so few acres. We only ever planned to make hay for ourselves. Husband says “quit fertilizing!” Ha ha

We did trade up to the Tedder with trailing fingers from the rype that just lifts and throws backwards. Tedding DOES shorten drying time a day (usually) for us too. But that long pasture grass just was uncooperative this year, tangling on things, roping up too. Hayfield grass did well taking the windrows apart with the tedder, but not as tall as pasture grass was.

Have to see what the round baler guy says when things dry more.

For sure I will be mowing that pasture once or twice in early spring to keep grass height shorter for hay baling!

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Got mine in from my hay farmer Memorial weekend. It seemed heavier than usual but seemed okay otherwise. Got the white fungus/powder 2 weeks later.

My hay farmer got me replacement hay, but like yours, it’s more mature than I normally get. But it’s how it’s growing this year. He felt bad, but it’s hay. We had a good bonding/chatting removing the 400 bales of bad hay from my loft and restacking the new. I have to say he was impressed I kept up with him LOL! His wife is sweet but a gentle flower, I am more like a tree HaHa!

The first batch tested below 8% NSC which I like.

Good luck with your hay!

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Too high nitrogen can do this to cereal crops. It might be worth having some soil samples done to check that it’s not out of balance.

On my personal front - quietly freaking out. Early season around these parts was perfect. Anyone who left hay to mature a bit more has been fighting weather ever since including my hay guy. Ugh.

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I need to go get my hay for the next six months but my tractor is in the shop and I need the trailer to both get (and store) my hay and bring the tractor home. Up in Tennessee where I buy my hay - they had an early crop and perfect weather the first of May and the end of April. I got some beautiful first cutting OG baled in April that looked like second cutting. No seed heads and soft and green. But I couldn’t get enough for the summer because I still had hay on my big trailer. Then a lot of the growers got a second cutting June 1st. So lots of nice hay up there. I just need that tractor back home so I can go get it. Prices about equal to last year or less.

Now we are in drought down here and I don’t know the hay situation north of me. I need that ding dang tractor home so I can drive north and take advantage of the good hay up there. I will be SO happy when the trailer is under the barn loaded with sweet smelling summer hay!

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When I had hay on the big trailer, yet needed to get big tractor repaired, I hired the dealership to come get the tractor. Perhaps going and filling the trailer with hay, then paying tractor fixer or recommended hauler to bring repaired ( whenever they get it done) tractor home for you is another way to go.

It would get your hay home, in place for feeding, not at winter prices or driving conditions, to ease your mind. It sure made things easier for me to have them pick up and repair tractor, should it need special parts ordered. Tractor DID need those parts, which were slow to arrive, 6 weeks. But it was also slow at the repair shop, March, so they could work on tractor as parts (Kubota) trickled in. I did not need tractor in March as I would have now, with hay season.

Just an idea. I was pretty happy with hauling rate charged. They came promptly, with suitable equipment, and I got a good slot in the repair lineup. Ready and done before the spring repair rush locally. Ask the price for delivery back to you. Might be a good surprise.

Nope. They won’t come out my way. I tried years ago and they said it was too far. There are two offices for that dealership, each about 45 to 50 miles on country roads. They only are interested if you are maybe 10 to 15 miles away. That is why I bought the flatbed trailer because it was the only way I could get the tractor serviced. Maybe if I had bought a 50k tractor from them but even then I doubt it. Neither Mahindra repair shop is that good either. I found a smaller shop that does better work but they do not have the ability to pick up or deliver.

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I got soil tested recently, so fertilizer mix was made for what the pasture needed. Two of the other pastures were not fertilized, my fertilizer guy said their soil test said “perfect” for pasture grass. Needed no additives this year! That was a surprise!! Saved money there.

Not sure which variety of Orchard grass we planted there, but it is significantly taller than the Orchard Grass in the hayfields. Pasture is a mix of grasses, other forage plants and volunteer clover that blew in. As pasture it is pretty productive all summer, horses look good on mostly just grazing it. We decided to hay it because I was mowing it almost weekly from April to late May to keep it short, the recommended 6-8 inches. Horses are not on full-time grazing then, so they could not keep it down. Seemed a waste to just mow grass when it could be hay! Could save us buying hay if a year was really poor. We got 150 bales off there last year, which filled the needed extra of first cutting. We were set for winter. Then we got a bonus second cutting off the hayfields last year, more than 400 bales with all the summer rain. We were amazed because in 2022 we only got 50 bales of second cutting off the hayfields! As Candyappy says, “Every year is different.”

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You might ask some other farmers for a good hauler’s name or put a Hauler Needed, request on Facebook, see what you get in replies. I found my hay unloader guys that way the last couple years. We are in a good location for hauling, many tractor owners moving equipment around. My Kubota Dealer is about 45 miles away, they did not hesitate to come get mine. However the Kioti Dealer won’t haul. You have to take it in yourself. He does excellent work, but only in his shop. I am thinking of selling that tractor. Is your tractor small enough to fit in a stock trailer? We have the old 8N and small Kubota that get hauled that way. Trailer has a ramp and they load pretty easily. That stock trailer is one of our “best ever buys!” It has moved a lot of odd things for us over the MANY years we owned it.

Sorry you are in such a tight spot.

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Those are really good numbers! We have to wait until the dew is off to cut. Not usually before 11am with our humidity. So the hay sugar is higher when tested, but we have no obese animals or sugar problems with the horses and our hay.

The stallion is new here, came fat, needs to lose at least 100 pounds more, but he is a very easy keeper. Keeping him worked often, only a daily handful of grain with vitamins and only half a day on pasture is helping. He does not want any hay in his stall. Once they all get on full-time grass they think hay fed inside is terrible stuff!! Only eat the hay if trailered out someplace.

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I’m thinking there may have been an error, either for the variety or intended use (hay vs. pasture) or just a straight up mistake if your other 2 fields did not sustain damage and were not fertilized.

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I had no idea hay could be saved if it was wet. Perhaps it’s the type of hay? Around here, anything wet goes to the cows.

We are in desperate drought. I cannot recall the last summer that was this dry. My pastures are almost barren and I’m still feeding hay. If things don’t change we will definitely have a hay shortage by next spring. My hay barn is sitting empty for now. It’s been so hot I have not felt like buying and stacking bales. They keep predicting rain and it just doesn’t come. Usually it is like someone flips a switch and it starts pouring every day… Still waiting for that to happen.

I’m starting to think of building a shed for hay. Not sure that’s a feasible project for the summer. Maybe this fall? And I’m dreaming of a swimming pool. At this point I think even a kiddy pool would be nice. There are always springs to swim in but usually I’m light headed by the time we drive there. It’s just too hot.

I’m always amazed and a bit worried about my neighbors out there baling hay in this heat. These temperatures are not friendly to anyone.

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I guess the use of rained on hay came from necessity to the farmer. They could not afford to lose the crop, tried refluffling cut stuff for air flow to dry again in the sun. Then baling and feeding it to their horses and cattle.

You can feel the heavy bales with moisture, before tossing them onto the elevator, so they get set aside. Even a bit of variation in weight after 50 bales of the same weight, is pretty noticable to you to set that bale aside. The “washed” hay, properly dried is really dry, so it doesn’t mold or ferment in storage. That was the key, making sure rained on hay was dry enough for baling, which everyone we spoke to emphasized. Just looking at two good bales of our grass hay, you can’t usually tell who got rained on and who did not this year. Alfalfa, you will lose leaves with extra handling, being very dry and brittle, not sure on the color though. We don’t grow alfalfa.

Lots more science now than in older times, along with actual hay making experience. A hay talk by a 50year hay producer this spring told me about saving rained on hay to sell it. Sometimes rain happens, but you can work around it. One major point covered was to NOT shut hay in a tight barn, lock all the doors. The best stuff can mold if you do that because it contains some moisture. Sealed up modern barn full of hay, sun heating the metal barn, no air exchange, will often get mold started. INTERESTING TO LEARN!!

He would show customers available hay in storage. Often they LIKED/chose the rained on hay, over unrained-on hay piles. Then they said later that their horses did well on it, no dust! Never argue with the customer!! Most of his customers were horse folks and he raised National Champion Quarter Horses. Good hay was his best way to keep buyers happy and coming back again.

This was our first year dealing with rained on hay. Been VERY lucky getting dry weather in past years for doing hay. But hearing in the talk that rained on hay COULD often be saved prevented despair! Checking with hay farmer friends was greatly encouraging to put in the extra work fluffing things. So we got a good bunch baled and put away before another surprise storm happened. We lost hay, but not all of it! Just have to figure how to get the cut stuff off the ground. Been rained on hard, 3 times now, with more rain predicted over the weekend! We really have been feeling kind of blessed with what we got in the barns!

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Other fields were kept mowed for pasture. With short grass, 6 to 8 inches high, nothing could get blown down, though they all have the same mix of forage grasses and plants. Not allowed to get tall like the pasture we planned to use for hay. The unfertilized fields are very productive this year, were getting mowed high ( to 6 inches) almost weekly with all the spring rain we got.

Not being able to get a row of dry days made cutting pasture for hay impossible earlier. We got hay done Memorial Weekend last year. Heavy seed heads, strong winds, with and without rain, just blew that very tall grass over in places. Earlier cutting would have prevented blown-down spots, but there was wet mud (low field) to keep tractor off of. I WILL be mowing that field earlier next spring, to prevent the grass height, before trying to hay it again next year.

Last year, our second cutting got rained on twice. I have a spectacular farmer who makes our hay. His recommendation was to keep it- he thought it might get scarce depending on weather, of course. It dried beautifully and the horses love it. I sent it off to be analyzed (I do that w all my hay) and was pleasantly surprised at the nutritional value. The NSC was 7% compared to 9% in our third cutting.

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I get it but think it would be a good idea to check the soil again in the field that got fertilized if you’re planning on making hay in it again next year. Too much nitrogen truly is a thing that makes tall grasses (cereal crops) fall down in storms. People make mistakes.

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