Sorry it has been so long since my last post! We have been very busy, so the little free time I have had I haven’t felt like posting on here.
Making quality forage is something we take great pride in. It is also one of the major keys to raising healthy animals that produce lots of milk!
The hay that we make is primarily alfalfa. We do mix in a little grass, as it helps it dry faster after cutting, and we also have some clover in some fields as well. The first step is cutting the hay at the proper time. We want to cut it right before the alfalfa is budding. This gives us the balance of the most amount of feed and the best nutritional value for the cow.
We cut with two different haybines. This allows us to cut as fast as possible when we have a window of weather to get our haying done. Here is Mitch cutting with the McDon, he is cutting some very grassy hay that we put up to feed to heifers:
View from the cab:
I only got stuck once…whoops:
After cutting and allowing the hay to dry to the proper moisture, we will “merge” the windrows with a tool called a merger. Depending on how heavy the hay is and how fast it is drying, we will put 2 or 3 windrows together. In this picture I am just putting two windrows side by side by moving each over half way. This allows them to dry faster as it flips them over so the underside is exposed, and the chopper can still pick both up in one pass.
If the hay is drier, the wing that is folded up in this picture is folded down, and one windrow is laid directly on top of the next windrow. This takes less passes through the field with the merger, but the hay doesn’t dry as fast. If the hay is light enough, we will throw 3 windrows together, by throwing one windrow from each side on top of the windrow in the middle. That is what I am doing in this picture:
We use a merger instead of a conventional rake for a couple of reasons. We lose a lot less leaves off of the alfalfa with a merger, and it also picks up less rocks. Rocks are very hard on the knives of the chopper, and we farm some rocky ground!
Still to come: Chopping the hay, and filling bunker silo!