Hay Season is Coming Soon, Refresh Your Production Strategy

Hopefully, the first round of hay harvest only a few weeks away. After a long, cold, wet winter, many producers are scrambling to find hay supplies to finish out April.

Two free “Beef Tips” videos from Purdue Extension could help beef producers maximize the quality and quantity of their forage crops.

The videos were developed by Ron Lemenager, Extension beef specialist, and Keith Johnson, Extension forage specialist.

“Most beef producers rely on harvested forages as a primary feed resource during at least part of the winter-feeding period and when dry weather during the growing season reduces pasture growth,” Lemenager said.

Timing of Hay Harvest

What is the proper cutting techniques for common grasses and legumes — including tall fescue, orchardgrass, alfalfa and red clover? Determine the proper bale moisture content and monitor internal bale temperature to reduce the fire risk.

“To make excellent quality hay, the forage needs to be cut at the right growth stage and packaged into a bale at the right moisture content without incidence of rain damage, Johnson said. “Baling hay too wet can result in mold formation, reduced quality and the possibility of spontaneous combustion. When the hay is baled too dry, leaf loss occurs which results in less yield and quality.”

The Process of Making Dry Hay

These step-by-step tips will show the proper use of equipment needed to make dry hay. Topics include modern mowing technologies, when and how to use tedders, proper raking techniques and the differences between round and square bales.