Hay is defined as grass that is mowed, dried, and then kept in storage to use as food for livestock. Sudden changes in the type of hay fed to animals can result in discomfort to their digestive systems. It is best to store larger amounts of hay so that the animals’ diet can remain consistent over a period of time.
There are a few options to choose from when considering how to prepare and store the hay you will use to feed your livestock. Consider using one or all of them for more efficient storage and use.
Hay should be cured during the drying process. This means that the hay is cut, and the lumps are broken up, allowing the sun and the outside air to reach a larger portion of the hay. This also causes the hay to dry at a faster, more even, pace.
Inside storage options are best for preserving the quality of your hay. Hay that is stored outside can lose as much as 20% of its volume due to drying out. The option to store hay inside a building is not always available. If keeping your hay outside is a must, place a tarp over it to ensure it keeps in some of the moisture.
Hay can be stored in large squares or in rectangular bales. When storing your hay in this fashion, it is important to make sure there is enough ventilation in the bales. Ventilation is especially important in the first three weeks of the hay-drying process to eliminate the moisture in the stack.
Round bales of hay are usually stored outside and come into direct contact with the ground. The resulting dry matter loss varies greatly depending on the climate. Storage losses will be the smallest in dry regions. These losses are also minimal in areas that endure mostly snow as winter precipitation.
Loosely packed bales will allow rain and snow to penetrate the hay. It is important to use the proper gauges of wire that facilitate tightly packed bales. Check the moisture content in the hay by placing your hand on the outer layer of the bale.
Hay supplies nutrition to livestock and is important to the livelihood of farmers who depend on it. The proper preparation and storage of hay are important to protect the product from a loss of nutritional value and prevent losses from dry matter.
Your hay is important to your farm production. Most of your livestock eat it. Following the above steps will ensure you have a happy farm. If you found this article helpful, check out some of my other farming tips on my blog and check out some of the wonderful chickens I’ve produced on my farm by following these tips. They’ll make a wonderful meal for you and your family to enjoy.