Getting in Gear for Hay Season

— Written By
en Español

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.

English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲

The grasp of old man winter has let go and with spring approaching, the grasses are growing. For a lot of animal producers this means hay season will soon be here. Many of us are itching to get back in the filed after a wet winter, but before we do there are things that need to be taken care of first.

When preparing for the next hay season, look back on the previous years of production and set a plan for what need to be accomplished in the coming year. Make a checklist and ask yourself what need to happen. Does more need to be produced to support your herd? If you can’t produce enough are you able to ascertain enough hay from other sources to supplement your needs? Do I have storage space for all my hay? What do I need for soil and plant health? Is my equipment in shape to go to work or do repairs need to be done?

First and foremost, your growing hay crop or land where we will be planting a summer annual crop should be a main task on the list. Soil samples need to be taken so we know what our land needs. We get out what we put in the land so if we continue to harvest hay on land without returning nutrients to the soil, the hay crops harvested will start to decline in not only yields but quality as well. The lower the quality of the hay, the lower the nutrient value returns will be back to the animals consuming it. This in turns mean they will consume more low-quality hay without performing at the best for carcass maintenance and gains, which cuts into the profit margins.

Soil samples can also save money in the long run because they give an accurate breakdown of what the land actually needs as far as nutrients rather than going just upon assumption. Many times, I have seen producers spend more money and time than was actually needed because they were going of assumption buying fertilizers and lime that they thought would be beneficial when really it was spending unnecessary funds because the land didn’t need all they were putting out. This is especially true in today’s market with the price of agricultural supplies as high as they are and the effect that this can have on the bottom line as far as profit.

Once your soil and plant health are under control, the hay equipment you’ve had sitting under the shed all winter is going to needs to be awakened and given some attention before it heads back into the fields. Hay balers especially can be known to develop certain kinks while sitting idle collecting dust during the off season. Go through all your equipment and give it a thorough inspection, especially those with hydraulic lines and PTO driven components. Check all the moving parts to make sure they are operable and free of major wear. Make sure all mower blades are sharp and ready to cut cleanly. When it comes to your rake, check the rake teeth to make sure they are all in place and suitable to work. Check your balers tying systems and its pickup head to make sure no major issues will arise right off the bat when you head to the hayfield.

Hay season doesn’t have to a be a headache if you plan ahead correctly. Take time and make checklist to go through and check to see what you have, what you need, and how to get it accomplished. Always remember safety is the upmost concern when dealing with the machinery involved with hay season so be safe, alert, and pay attention to your surroundings. With all these things in mind, you should be set for a productive hay season.