Steps in hay making


  • Selection of crop and suitable stage of harvest:
    • The quality hay can be prepared from the forages having soft and pliable stem. Oat is the best crop for hay  making as the crop has soft and pliable stem. Annual and perennial grasses are also suitable for hay making. Legumes are also used for hay making but the problem of leaf shattering should be taken care of by careful handling. Berseem, lucerne, cowpea, pillipesera etc., can be used for hay making
    • The  crop  should  be  harvested  during  the  day  time  after the  dew  has  dried  off  so  that  plants  when  spread  over  the  ground  may  dry  evenly.  Another  factor  which  needs  attention  is  that  the  field  should  not  be  wet,  otherwise  uniform  drying  will  not  be  effected.
    • The  crop cut  early is  higher  in  protein,  lower in  crude  fibre,  contains  more  of  vitamins,  is more  palatable  and  leaf shedding will be  less.  The  best  time  for  cutting  a  crop  for  hay  making  is  when  it  is  one-third  to  a  half  in  blossom.
  • Selection of suitable method of drying:
    • Quantity of crop available (For a small quantity forage, skilled operation and costly  structures would be unsuitable).
    • Duration for which forage is available for hay making  (If forage supply is continuous for the hay making at least 300 days in a year, then the dehydrators may be worthwhile).
    • Relative humidity (Field curing is not suitable for hay making if the relative humidity is high which may cause moulds/fungi). 
    • Intensity of rains (Rain causes loss of nutrients due to leaching.  Continous rains combined with high relative humidity pose a serious problem for hay making).
    • Atmospheric temperature (The intensity and duration of bright sunshine hours decide the atmospheric temperature. During the hot weather period of March-April to  May - June, hay making through sun drying is very convenient and efficient).
    • Cost of installation (The choice of barns or dehydrators depend on the cost of it. Simple field curing during summer months is cheap and best for the poor farmers with few animals).
    • In  curing,  it  is  necessary  that  the  herbage  should  be saved  from  bleaching  by  the  sun  and  as  far  as  possible,  leaves  preserved from  shattering.  The  maximum  quantity  of  moisture  should  be  evaporated,  so that  it  can  be  stored  without  generation  of  heat  and  consequent  loss  of  nutrients.
  • For  reasonably rapid  curing and  production of  high  quality  hay,  it  is  best  to  let  the  herbage  lie  in  the  field  for  a  few  hours  until  it  is well wilted  or  about  one-fourth  to  one-third  cured.  It should be  raked  into  small  loose  heaps  known  as  windrows.  If  good  weather  continues,  the hay  is  cured  in  windrows  alone. 
  • When  the  weather  is  such  that  the  hay cures  slowly, turning  may  also be  necessary. Besides  field  curing,  hay  can  be  cured  by  hanging  the  herbage  on  tripods,  and  on  farm  fences. 
  • In  artificial  curing, the  material  is  placed  in  a  suitable chamber  where  it comes  in  contact  with heated  air  and  exposure  is regulated  depending  on  the  material  and  the  temperature.
Last modified: Monday, 1 August 2011, 6:50 AM