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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
hay bale

Makin' Hay

Posted by Travis Meteer - Hay

This past week's weather was dry, sunny, and low humidity. You couldn't ask for much better weather for "makin' hay." The dry weather has been abnormal for an Illinois spring, but then again, what hasn't been abnormal about the weather this year. Hay work hasn't been near as challenging as it usually is in early spring. We have the dry weather to thank for that. We also must realize that yields have been lower and the yo-yo temperatures had this grass as confused as we were. As you make your hay, remember that hay storage becomes vitally important to reducing loss.

Storing hay is more important than most of us think. Have you ever seen hay bales stacked east to west under a tree line? That plan can result in 40% or more storage loss. Here are a few tips for proper hay storage:

  • -Store dry hay inside, under a roof, in a hoop building, or under a tarp
  • -Outside storage- row bales north to south to ensure adequate sun exposure to reduce moisture build-up.
  • -Improve the storage surface – railroad ties, pallets, gravel, avoid wet areas, row with the slope, and avoid shade

Proper hay storage can result in saving up to 40% of your hay. We all know that hay has been, and is likely to continue to be a hot commodity. If you are producing Good Mix or Good Grass hay you could expect to receive $100/ton for it at auction in central IL (USDA). At that price, a 40% loss comes at a cost of $30/bale (assuming a 1500lb bale). Numbers rarely lie; a little planning and thought could save some valuable hay or money.

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