Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hay = Food for the Winter Months

chaybale

Feeding out a big bale by unwrapping

The first step in harvesting hay is mowing the standing crop and laying it in windrows. A rake is equipment used to move the mowed windrow across the soil surface or remaining crop stubble, creating a narrower windrow that will dry more rapidly. Hay balers are farm machines that pack and tie field-dried hay into more dense hay bundles, called bales, for convenient handling, storage, and transportation. Hay balers are grouped by the type of dense bundle or "bale" produced; small square/rectangular, large round, and large square/rectangular.

Large hay bales were introduced with large round balers during the 1970s. Large round bales with diameters of 4, 5, or 6 feet and widths of 4 or 5 feet can contain between 1000 to 2000 pounds of hay (roughly the equivalent of 20 to 45 small square bales) and are too heavy to handle manually.

Compared to small square bales, making large round bales reduces the number of bales the farmer/rancher needs to handle and may save in reduced handling and labor costs.

We receive large round bales from the New Vrindavan cow department since the majority of our cows come from the New Vrindavan herd. Once these large bales are placed in the barn, the twine can be cut and removed and the hay placed in the feed aisle with a pitchfork. Either the round bale can be unrolled and plates of it put in the feed aisle or the hay removed from the bale by simply manually unwrapping and then placing it in the feed aisle.

Our barns are designed with an upper floor above the feed aisle where the large bales are placed. This makes it easier as there is a downward thrust to place the hay in the feed aisle. Gravity is working with us. However, it is still a labor-intensive service and takes about 3 hours everyday in the winter months. That time includes covering all the cow dung with old hay each day. We have a system of bedding that layers the dung and hay creating a soft warm bed in the winter.

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