Tips to Reduce Hay Drying Time, Produce Quality Forage

  • Make      sure hay mowing equipment rollers are adjusted properly.
  • Cutting hay in the      morning after the dew is off can help speed drying time and reduce the      loss of carbohydrates due to respiration. Respiration is a natural process      and continues until the plant dries to a moisture content of approximately      40 percent.
  • The swath width can      influence hay drying time as well. High-yielding forages should be laid in      a wide swath, which will give better access to sun and wind.
  • Tedding is often      utilized to reduce drying time by spreading the hay. While tedding      increases costs in terms of time and fuel, this increase is offset by a      reduction in drying time.
  • Tedding hay shortly      after cutting and when it contains no less than 50 percent moisture will      reduce leaf shatter and forage loss.
  • Raking hay at the      improper moisture content may contribute to loss of plant leaf material.      The best moisture content for raking is 30-40 percent. Raking when the hay      is ready to bale (very dry) can cause major leaf shatter and reduce the      overall nutrient content of the forage.
  • Bailing at the proper      moisture content based on the size and shape of bales can also reduce      harvest and storage loss. For most small rectangular and large round      bales, the recommended bailing moisture content is 18 percent. For      high-density large rectangular bales, the range can be 12-14 percent      moisture for proper storage.

If storing hay outside, make sure you choose a location that is dry, preferably on a solid surface like rock, and make sure the location is high and open to wind.

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