When making hay, your goal is to make sure it is stable and full of nutrition. The first thing you need to do is to ensure that you have the necessary tools for the job.
That means looking for the proper mowers, conditioners, and hay rakes for sale if you do not have any yet. Once you are set, here is what you should do to make sure your hay has excellent quality.
Choose the best forage species
Some forage species are known to be highly rich in nutrients. Go for the ones that retain a lot of leaves, as leaves contain most of the proteins in forage. Alfalfa, red clover, Kura clover, white clover and Birdsfoot Trefoil are great options. Meadow foxtail, on the other hand, does not retain many leaves and is not good for haymaking.
Harvest forage before it is fully mature
The best stage to harvest the crop is when it is about to mature, as it is at its maximum nutritive stage. The palatability and nutritive value of the crop begin to decline after the maturity stage towards the anthesis stage.
Dry hay to appropriate moisture
When fresh, forage contains up to 90% moisture, which is a great deal. As such, the hay requires a lot of drying to reach the ideal moisture content of between 15 and 20%. When in the windrows and with the right temperature and humidity, the forage should reduce moisture down to about 25% in just a few days.
Maintain green colour
When hay is still green, it indicates that the nutritive value is still high. Of course, proper storage is important to achieve this. You can use preservatives, such as propionic acid, and ensure that you do not bale forage that is high in moisture.
Haymaking is simple if done the right way. With the right harvesting and storage methods, you can make sure all your hay is rich in nutrition and food value.