Hay making


  • Conservation of forages in the dry form is known as hay making. The moisture content in the forage plants is reduced drastically to 15% or below for long period storage.
  • Hay differs from straw or stover in that straw is a by-product in the dried form while hay is the complete plant (in the dried form), cut before maturity.
  • In a tropical country like India, the green fodder is available only during monsoon season. The excess green fodder has to be conserved and used during the lean periods.
  • Usually the excess fodder is harvested, dried, bundled, heaped and used during summer. This is the local practice evolved through several years of experience by farmers. The grass from forest area and the natural pastures is also cut, dried and stored as hay.
  • Fine stemmed grasses and legumes make good hay. They should be cut at the right stage and properly dried so that the hay is leafy, pliable, green in colour, free from moulds, weeds and dust and has pleasant characteristic smell and aroma.
  • Thin stemmed and more leafy grasses like oats are good for hay making. However, crops like sorghum and maize are also converted into hay. Most grasses from pastures like Cenchrus ciliaris, Dicanthium annulatum, Cynodon dactylon when properly cut and dried make good hay. Grasses with spiny awns such as Heteropogon contortus should be cut very early for hay; otherwise, the hay will be unpalatable to livestock. Cultivated fodders like hybrid napier, para grass, guinea grass, teosinte are not suitable for hay making.
  • Legume hays are more useful because of higher protein content. The legume crops suitable for hay making are lab-lab, cowpea, french beans or guar, horsegram, sunnhemp, pillipesara and lucerne. Leaf shedding will be a great problem during drying and curing process in the legumes. It is because, the moisture is lost more easily from the leaves than from the stems. Leaves constitute nearly half the green material and 75% of the protein. So, loss of leaf will reduce the feeding value very much. Cowpea, lab-lab and pillipesara are less liable to leaf shedding than other legumes. Berseem is not suitable for hay making mainly because of this problem of leaf shattering. The perennial legume lucerne is good for hay making.
  • The residues of most cereal crops like paddy, wheat, sorghum, maize bajra, etc. are dried and stored as straw or stover. Straws are inferior in quality compared to hay because grain, which contains most of the nutrients is removed. However, use of dried straws is wide spread in India. In western countries, where natural drying is difficult because of the climatic pattern due to low sunshine, low temperatures and high humidity ; artificial drying is practiced using heavy machinery like driers, blowers etc. Hay and straw make excellent roughage for the ruminants.
Last modified: Wednesday, 17 August 2011, 10:32 AM