June 27, 2022

From the Pastures: Making hay

Well, the lambing is just about done. I have two more ewes left to lamb but the rest of the lamb crop is healthy and growing. My two steers go into the locker plant tomorrow and they look to be carrying the right amount of finish on them (all from grass). When they are on the rail I’ll look at them again to know for sure how much fat they have on them and then quarter of one of them to eat. I always sample what I produce.

The forage has been growing tall and thick. I have not supplemented any hay in two weeks because there is enough fiber in what they are eating to balance out their rumen. Talking about forage, I made “Hay in a Day” June 3. I had wanted to make it two weeks earlier but the hay man’s schedule and the weather didn’t cooperate.

The day started with a 7 a.m. phone call asking if I still wanted to make baleage and I said yes! It’s 39 miles from his house to my field, so by the time he and one guy helping him got the machinery moved it was 11 a.m. when he started cutting my hay. He used my tractor to rake the hay from 2 to 6 p.m. and then started baling by 6:30. He baled until about 10 p.m.; the hired man drove the pickup with a goose-neck trailer from the hay field to the bale wrapping area at my farm. He then unloaded the bales with a skid steer loader, wrapped them using a line wrapping machine and came back to the hay field where I would load him using my tractor. Fifty percent of the 61 bales we wrapped came from two farms 2 miles from my farm.

The last 31 bales came from a farm 10 miles away so there was some road time. But the 19-year-old helper liked to drive fast and I was always busy. I loaded the last bale at 11 p.m. and by the time I got home at 11:30, they had the last load wrapped and the machine pulled out of the field and ready to go home!

They supplied the baler, haybine, rake, line wrapper machine, truck and trailer. I supplied my 75 horsepower tractor. The two men stayed busy from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and I helped them from 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. He was as quick with the bill as he was with the hay so I can tell you exactly what it costs. Diesel fuel for my tractor, $20 per hour for my labor, plus $100 wear and tear on my tractor plus his bill, equals $47.91 per bale. They were heavy bales so I estimate their weight at 2,000 pounds. I got him to probe the last bales for moisture and they ranged from 40% to 55% moisture. Those are all the facts, so you can decide if making baleage in one day is for you.

I love it because it makes great feed in the spring when I can’t get enough drying days in a row to make dry hay. But I was sure tired!

Elton Mau

Elton Mau

Arrowsmith, Ill.