Submitted to: Pennsylvania Grazing and Forage Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2003
Publication Date: 3/3/2003
Citation: Rotz, C.A. 2003. Effectiveness of equipment to speed hay drying. Pennsylvania Grazing and Forage Conference Proceedings. p. 17-22.
Technical Abstract: High quality forage is recognized as an important requirement for maintaining maximum production of cattle, particularly in dairy production. The greatest obstacle to producing high quality hay is rapid field curing. Conditioning and tedding treatments can speed drying, but such processes also cause loss. Dry matter loss and nutritive changes occur each time a machine passes through the crop, thereby reducing the quality of the final product. Although some loss is inevitable, good management can reduce or compensate for these losses to provide the quality forage needed. The benefits received must be weighed against the added costs to determine the best procedures for hay making on your farm. Experience has shown that rapid field curing is important and a good mechanical conditioner can help speed drying. Hay should be spread in wide swaths to further speed drying, but very thin swaths must be avoided to reduce raking loss. Tedding may be useful in drying grass crops, but is should be avoided with alfalfa, particularly after the crop has partially dried. Hay should be baled at about 18% moisture in low-density bales, but a lower moisture content is needed for high-density large bales. Routine baling of high moisture hay should be avoided. When damp hay is baled, use an organic acid based treatment to help preserve hay. Remember that on the dairy farm, only about one third of the forage needs to be of the highest quality when that forage is segregated by quality and fed to animal groups accordingly.