Everyone knows what hay is, but not everyone knows how it is made. In fact, hay can actually be made from a variety of plants including legumes, grass, and other types of herbaceous plants. It is typically used to feed grazing animals that aren’t able to feed naturally due to issues such as location and climate. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four interesting facts about how hay is created.
1. Many Factors Affect the Quality of Hay
While hay may all look pretty much the same, there are actually many factors that can affect its overall quality. This is an important issue since farmers want their animals to get the best quality hay possible.
The first step in hay production is ensuring that conditions are right for creating high-quality hay. Where the hay is grown, the quality of the soil it is grown in, and the number of weeds in the field all contribute greatly to how the hay will turn out. The climate, particularly how much rainfall the grass receives, is also an important factor. To produce quality hay, these factors must be taken into consideration and optimized for hay production.
2. Hay is Crimped as it is Cut
Turning grass into hay means drying it out. This has to be done in a very precise manner or mold can set in. First of all, the grass needs to be as dry as possible naturally before cutting. It also needs to be the right age. When the time comes to cut the grass, the machine will crimp it during the process to speed up the drying. This is usually done every four inches but can be less to speed up the drying process.
3. Hay Must be Made in a Very Specific Time Frame
The grass that is used to make hay is not harvested at the time it is first cut. Instead, it will be left in what is known as a window. These windows are sections of the field where the grass will dry. As you can probably imagine, this must happen before rainfall. This gives farmers a very specific window of time in which they can turn the grass into hay. If needed, a machine known as a tedder can be used to spread the grass out to help it dry more quickly.
4. Hay Bailers Come in Different Sizes
The final step in creating hay is baling it. This comes when the grass is sufficiently dried out and has become proper hay. Many different types of balers are used to create hay bales of different sizes. Some are simply a device attached to the back of a tractor. Once again, this must be done before the weather changes and ruins the hay.
Hay can be difficult to make in some cases since a lot of things must fall into place in a relatively well-defined timespan. However, hay is critical for agriculture since many grazing animals rely on it. Fortunately, centuries of creating hay have helped refine the process to give it a very high success rate despite the challenges.