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Discussion on Storing Hay, Alfalfa vs grassy Hay

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Angie J.
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 1764
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Saturday, Jun 14, 2008 - 11:08 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Just curious about something. Does Alfalfa just by it's nature of having the small leaves, tend to go bad quicker than grassy hay? Last year our hay guy had new alfalfa fields, which had I known before we pulled up to get the hay, I would have ordered our hay else wheres. I thought it got dusty really quick in storage, and I am not sure in most bales if they are dusty, moldy, sour. No obvious black/grey mold, but lots of dust and the small leaves of course fall out when shaking the hay up. I don't think it smells moldy but yet it don't smell fresh either for the most part. Of course once I get it up my nose so much, can't smell anything!

My second question is storing the hay. It's in the hay barn part of a moniter style barn. Open on the sides looking out into the stalls/rest of the barn, and the floor boards are not completely solid. We put 7 bales across one layer, than turn the bales, and get 8, I think.

I wonder if we are packing them too tight?

Should they be put down with the string sides down, or on their sides?

With the prices going up, need to take all precautions we can.

Thanks for any comments and your thoughts.
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 2247
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Saturday, Jun 14, 2008 - 1:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Angie, alfalfa takes longer to dry for sure. We can get our grass hay up in a day and a half if the weather conditions are right. The alfalfa takes at least twice as long a little clover in it can really slow things up too. I thing the reason is the thick stems. Alfalfa shouldn't be baled until the stems are kinda "crisp" If you can bend a stem it is "tough" and probably will get dusty. Alfalfa also seems to take longer to "cure" than grass hay. The hard part is getting it dry enough yet not too dry as the leaves will fall off while raking. Some farmers around here will bale it with some dew on to keep the leaves on...a practice I don't like for horse hay anyway.

Ideally your hay should be able to be packed tight if put up perfect, however we know how hard that is! So getting some airflow between the bales helps at least until it cures out. Most people around here put them on edge, especially if there is doubt about it's dryness. Personally I don't like all of it on edge (too hard to grab and stack) but sometimes will put the bottom layer on edge to help airflow. Hope that helps some and that is just my personal experience, I'm sure others do it different.

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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: mrose

Post Number: 3619
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Saturday, Jun 14, 2008 - 2:43 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

We are usually so dry around here that the big hay farmers use equipment that steams the hay before it is baled. Otherwise, they have to get up and bale around 3 a.m. so there is some moisture on it.
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Angie J.
Member
Username: ajudson1

Post Number: 1765
Registered: 6-2003
Posted on Saturday, Jun 14, 2008 - 4:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Diane,

Yes, that helps. I wonder if the guy was so used to baling a mixture of alfalfa and grass for so long that he just misjudged the time to bale? It was very humid too last summer so I think that added to it.

I always loved his hay because it was about 30% alfalfa and the rest a mix. A lot easier to feed a bale premixed than open 2 different bales to give a certain percentage of the "candy" stuff.

He said his fields would be mostly alfalfa now for a few years til the grass starts taking over again. Is there any reason why he couldn't have seeded a mixture of alfalfa and timothy? I have wondered that since he told me that last summer.

It don't matter how the hay is put in the barn as I'll be the only one getting it out. I'll suggest we put it on side, and I already suggested we don't pack it as tight. Unless of course this rain forest turns into a dust bowl by then!

Now I suppose when I get the grass hay this year, I'll be thinking, "ewwww, that don't look appetizing at all" lol!! And the fussy butts will think the same. Spoilt things, I had some very brown hay, 2 years old, that I put out a few times when it was really muddy and slushy. They just gave me looks like "you've got to be kidding, we're supposed to eat this?"
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 2248
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Saturday, Jun 14, 2008 - 6:07 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Angie I think putting it back in alfalfa (legume) is to put nitrogen back in the ground...saves on fertilizer, which is very expensive right now.

My husband does the same thing about every 3 years, since we don't have crops to rotate into the hayfield..that is one of the reasons farmers rotate soybeans and corn. We decided to put beans in our hayfield after 1st crop this yr. also. (if we ever get 1st crop off).
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