Usage and Production of Hay

Posted Oct 10, 2017 by Alan Xu

T&H Packaging has introduced briefly about some effecting factors of hay quality, causing lots of discussions on how to cutting and storing hay better. As is known to us all, hay is grass, legumes, or other herbaceous plants that have been cut, dried, and stored for use as animal fodder, particularly for grazing animals such as cattle, horses, goats, and sheep. When there is not enough pasture or rangeland on which to graze an animal, when grazing is unavailable due to weather (such as during the winter) or when lush pasture by itself is too rich for the health of the animal, people will take hay as animal feed to provide enough crude protein for the livestock.

Most animals are fed hay in two daily feedings, morning and evening. However, this schedule is more for the convenience of humans, as most grazing animals on pasture naturally consume fodder in multiple feedings throughout the day. Different animals also use hay in different ways: cattle evolved to eat forages in relatively large quantities at a single feeding, and then, due to the process of rumination, take a considerable amount of time for their stomachs to digest food, often accomplished while the animal is lying down, at rest. Thus, quantity of hay is important for cattle, who can effectively digest hay of low quality if fed in sufficient amounts. Sheep will eat between two and four percent of their body weight per day in dry feed, such as hay, and are very efficient at obtaining the most nutrition possible from three to five pounds per day of hay or other forage. They require three to four hours per day to eat enough hay to meet their nutritional requirements.

Hay production is also known as hay making, which involves a multiple step process: cutting, drying or “curing”, raking, processing, and storing.

Modern mechanized hay production today is usually performed by a number of machines. While small operations use a tractor to pull various implements for mowing and raking, larger operations use specialized machines such as a mower, which are designed to cut the hay and arrange it into a windrow in one step. Balers are usually pulled by a tractor, with larger balers requiring more powerful tractors.

As in the export hay industry, the hay after being baled by balers, will have to be pressed again in the hay press, this process is known as “double dumping”, in order to get enough weight in one shipping container. For the export hay, there is a very strict rule about the moisture level of the hay. Because if the hay is too wet, not only there will be risk of mold but also can cause serious damage to the shipping container itself.