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Country Discussion Topics
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Drying hay - How do you tell when its ready
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Farmer Tom    Posted 05-28-2002 at 07:07:08       [Reply]  [Send Email]
to bale safely? Every year I make I cut our hay (about 7 acres grass type), but I am always uneasy when it comes to bale (square bales) it up. I probaly wait too long, and let it get too dry, and because of this I never get good looking green colored hay and am probaly losing feed value. I cut with a conditioner and when I can get my hands on one, use a tedder.

I am just wanting to hear from some of you experts out there on this. I am sure there are some tricks or methods to make a better determination than the way I do it! I would like to learn some of them if you would share them.

Farmer Tom

Farmer Tom    Posted 05-29-2002 at 07:06:57       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Thanks to everyone who replied. You all have given me some good advice and methods, I am sure I will try them all.

Again, many thanks,

Farmer Tom

Alvin NE WI    Posted 05-28-2002 at 19:25:53       [Reply]  [No Email]
I grab a hand full of alfalfa and bend it over, if the stems crack it should be good, been doing that for decades and still have the same barn that Dad had and I am 72.

Spence    Posted 05-28-2002 at 12:12:25       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'll need to know myself next year after I put in alphalfa for green manuring. Then I'll turn that over and put in hay over that.

I read an article in one of the books in my library once that goes something like this:

There is a way using a sealed jar and salt
that can tell if it's ready. You put the hay in a dry jar like a mason jar, about half full, you add plain dry salt, not table or processed salt, just so there's a bit on the bottom. If the salt clumps up after a while it's too wet.

Anyway I'll look it up at home and post it later for you.

DeadCarp    Posted 05-28-2002 at 10:15:43       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'm not too up on the "standard" drying time with a conditioner, but you need a place to start. The secret is using your eyes and hands. Look out across the windrow and note the color. Once the leaves droop pick up a few strands and try to snap them off with one thumb. Overnite is standard here - on a hot sunny day you can bale early. You can salt "green" bales to drive moisture out but the cows retain water & soon refuse to eat anything else then. (they like dressing on their salad too :) Once it's baled, slip your and in there to feel for heat or coldness. (both signs of dampness) Green bales can be re-stacked to dry them. Hay can also be pulled right out of standing water, if your hayrack & back's strong. Oh, you might lose the bottom row, but most of it'll drain out if loosely stacked.

Hands are very sensitive to temperature and surprisingly standard - For example, you can hold onto a pipe up to 120 degrees f, where at 130, you'll want to let go. That's why maintenence men & mechanics always grab stuff and look away - they're taking a reading, just like ma's hand on your forehead. Not foundry guys though - they spit at the billet rather than lose hide! But that'd take another pinch of snoose. :)

Manitoba    Posted 05-28-2002 at 09:57:15       [Reply]  [No Email]
The way that Tom A. does it is the way we do it...we test at about noon and if its to dry we will wait till the evening to bale as not to loose to many leaves on the Alfalpha...The Timiothy and brome dry alot faster especially if it has been thru the conditioner. We also watch the humidex report and if its below 50 percent we bale....hope this helps.

Les    Posted 05-28-2002 at 09:40:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hay too dry? Never heard of such a thing. I know I ain't a particularly scientific farmer but eventually the hay will take on the same moisture content as the air, assuming it ain't layin right on the ground. Better safe than sorry, my old man always said. He never burned a barn down but we had a neighbor that burned down 2 barns with wet hay when I was a kid.

Tom A    Posted 05-28-2002 at 07:43:35       [Reply]  [Send Email]

I asked my next-door-neighbor the same question a few weeks ago (2d or 3d generation dairy farmer), as I've had some recurring mold problems in some of my bales.

His Daddy's method:
Take a small round bundle of the hay in your hands, sort of like uncooked spaghetti...a circle about 3/4" in diameter. When you can grab it with your two hands as if to 'wring it out' like a rag and the bundle tears, then the hay is ready to bale. If it just turns and twists without tearing in two, then the hay is not yet dry enough to bale.

I know everybody has a different way so I'm curious to see what others say, but my neighbor has used this method his whole life.


Andy in Ga.    Posted 05-28-2002 at 17:08:24       [Reply]  [Send Email]
That's the way I do it too. When you crunch it in your hand it will crackle ,it's ready.

Ollie    Posted 05-28-2002 at 09:27:13       [Reply]  [No Email]
Sounds like a good way, what about alfalfa?? That always makes me nervous. Thinking about getting a moisture meter. Boy, they're not cheap!

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