John Large: Making hay while the sun shines
After a very busy few weeks we have saved enough grass for next winter. We made 350 bales of silage, all of excellent quality. We also made about 400 bales of hay.
This was saved with the minimum of effort due to the very dry weather and the dry ground underneath. Most of the hay was fit to bale just five days after being cut and turned twice.
This was yielding from eight to 13 bales per acre. It has been a long time since we made hay of such good quality. Other years we would get caught in poor weather or the grass was left too long growing before it was mowed.
No such problem this year as we were able to cut when the quality was still in the grass. With this good quality forage our winter feed costs can be reduced as we should not need as much meal as last year.
Cutting in these fields also means that they should produce more grass for the remainder of the grazing season. Once the bales of silage were made they were transported back to the yard and stacked before the crows started to attack the plastic.
A tractor with a bale handling unit that can carry two bales is used behind the tractor with a loader carrying one in front. I find that this system is as quick as using a tractor and trailer carrying 15 bales – if the bales are near the yard.
The bales of hay can be left in the field for some time when weather is good. The only downside to the hay is you must have somewhere that is covered for storage. Once we get a change in the weather, slurry and fertiliser will be spread on all fields that were cut. If there is any re-growth in the meantime, we'll just graze it off with the lambs beforehand.