Hay is a perennial crop that can be grown for several years. It is used to feed livestock, but it can also be used to enhance the flavor of other crops. The most common type of hay harvested in North America is timothy hay. However, many other types are available as well such as alfalfa and clover.
Haying has different annotations associated with it, but in this article, we’ll discuss what is haying and share some helpful tips about this topic.
In haying, the plant’s roots are cut off at ground level, and the grasses are dried in the sun. The process of drying out the hay causes some of the nutrients to leach out of the plant, which increases its nutritional value.
What is haying: Basic process you need to know
Regardless of whether you have a hectare of field or a small garden, you must know what is haying. This is especially useful if you have plans of carrying out haying in the future.
So, what is haying?
Haying has four processes or stages and these are the following:
1. Mowing or harvesting
When learning about what is haying, the one important thing you should know is that it’s weather dependent, especially its first step which is mowing.
You just don’t cut or harvest hay any time of the year. Instead, you need to rely on the weather forecast and see when there is a consistent dry day.
Rule of thumb when harvesting hay: There should be at least three consecutive dry days before you can harvest it. This way, your hay will be ready for the next steps.
If you have a large scale of hay, you can use equipment such as:
- Sickle mower
- Rotary disc mower
The second process, which is tedding, includes the lifting of the hay. This is important in the promotion of dryness in all parts of the hay.
This process also requires the use of equipment called a tedder. The tedder will spread your cut hay into a wide one, letting it dry the best it can be.
Some farmers choose to ted hay the next day or the afternoon after cutting it. The main purpose of this practice is to buy time for the hay to dry out under the sunlight.
This process still targets the hay to be fully dried and this is where the preparation for baling begins.
There are different types of rakes, such as wheel rakes and rotary rakes.
This type helps to rake the hay into piles so that it’s easier to move and store. There are two main types of wheel rakes: vertical and horizontal.
The vertical ones are more stable, but the horizontal ones are faster to use because they can be adjusted for various lengths.
The best way to use a wheel rake is to start with a narrow vertical rake and then switch over to a wide horizontal rake when you’ve finished loading the first pile. You’ll want to make sure that the pile is as evenly distributed as possible before you go back up with your vertical rake. Otherwise, it’ll be harder than necessary to get all of the hay into one area at once!
Rotary rakes are similar to the traditional rake, but they have a rotating head that grabs and holds the hay instead of pulling it through. This makes it possible to move more hay in less time than you would with a traditional rake.
This type of rake is also designed to be easier on your back and shoulders, making them a great choice for people who suffer from chronic pain or other health conditions.
This is the last step in the haying process. You can choose how to bale your hay in two different options.
- Square bales
- Round bales
Regardless of what type of bale you choose, your hay must be secured. Once it’s secure, then you can store it long-term.
Why should you learn what is haying?
If you’ve ever wondered why we’re discussing the process of haying, there are some good reasons.
Haying is a very important part of maintaining healthy ecosystems and keeping your farm animals happy and healthy.
The idea behind haying is that once you have enough grass on your farm to support all of your livestock, you need to strip the remaining plants from the field and cut them into pieces so they can be dried out quickly before being used as fertilizer.
The whole process ensures that no new grass grows back in that spot for several years.
Haying also helps with soil health by removing dead leaves and other plant matter from the soil beneath them. This prevents erosion as well as keeps more nutrients in a place where they count in the topsoil. Instead of leaching away into streams or rivers when rains come down hard after harvest season has passed.
How long does it take to make hay?
As we said earlier, perfect weather timing is important in haying. Although there are four processes of haying, all these can be achieved in just 3 to 4 days. This is applicable if the weather is hot and breezy.
The reason for this is that you want your hay to be fully dried.
Use hay as garden mulch!
Have you ever wondered why hay is so effective as garden mulch? It’s because it’s made up of all sorts of different grasses, so it’s super versatile and can be used in a variety of ways.
You can use it around plants that like to have their roots covered with mulch, such as tomatoes and squash. You can also use the hay for top-dressing on your lawn, which can help keep the grass underneath looking healthy. And then, of course, there are all those uses for putting the hay in your compost pile!
So try using some hay in your garden this year. You’ll be amazed by all the possibilities!
Explore the world of haying today!
We hope you enjoyed this guide on what is haying and its process! We’re excited to be able to help you learn about the world of haymaking, and we hope you’ll come back to explore it more in the future.
If you have any questions about haying, don’t hesitate to reach out, we’re here for you!