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Raw Milk information
Hay Making Page 3We continue to monitor the hay moisture using our moisture meters to determine if the hay ready to bale. The baler is a machine that takes the hay from the windrow, picks it up and compresses it into a small rectangular bale. Our baler is a New Holland 575, which is the largest of the small square balers. The faster baling time helps us to harvest the hay quicker. Our large Agco tractor powers the baler. Due to the larger baler we need the large tractor to power it.
It is important for the baler to be a high quality machine to make consistent bales and that it is adjusted properly to make good compressed bales. Our New Holland baler has a hydraulic tensioning control to make consistent compressed bales.
Our hay is tied using a plastic cord to wrap the bales for two reasons. The plastic cord is stronger which allows a higher compression of the bale and there is less chance that the cord will break in handling. Our bale wagon requires a tight bale so it can be pickup properly.
Our baler has a quarter turn chute on the end so that the bale is gently placed on the ground on its end ready to be picked up. Many hay producers use a kicker on the baler that shoots the bale through the air into a wagon. In the process of falling into the wagon the bale is distorted and sometimes the cords break. Since we do not use a kicker, our bales are nice and straight.
The next process is taking the bale from the field to the barn. We use New Holland automatic bale wagons to do this. The bale wagon requires the bale be on edge, the bale be at least 36 inch long and that it is well compressed (reason for the nylon strings). This does result in a heavier bale approximatly 40 lbs each. This machine picks up the bale from the field which is lying on its side and stacks it into the wagon. A full bale wagon holds 104 bales which we then take to the barn to unload. The wagon is large (see picture) but does not take a lot of HP and therefore we use our smaller tractor to pull it.
We drive the wagon to the barn to unload it. We had the barn modified so it has a series of side doors. Through these side doors we use a hay elevator to unload the hay bales into the barn. The hay elevator allows us to quickly get the hay off the wagon and into the barn. The hay is stacked inside the barn.
A critical part of high quality hay is how the hay is stored. You can have great hay to start with but if stored improperly the hay will be damaged. We store all of our hay in a barn. The barn is 252 feet long with a metal roof, wood sides and a concrete floor. We place the first layer of hay on wooden pallets. If the hay was stacked directly on the concrete floor the lower bales of hay will absorb moisture and damage the hay.
We want all of our high quality hay that we worked so hard to harvest to not get damaged. This assures you that you are getting the best hay. We don’t put wet hay into the barn. If the weather is such that the hay gets wet, we take that hay to compost it on our pastures to put back the nutrients into the soil. There is no use in selling poor quality hay. It costs too much to harvest the hay to end up with mulch hay.
As you can see it takes good weather, good soils, good equipment and good storage to make good hay. Our goal is to make the highest quality hay.