In the last blog we discussed the need to mow during the vegetative stage of growth instead of the reproductive stage of growth. Now we are going to talk about the first crop and the time you should wait between when you mow and when you will be ready to bale and wrap the hay.
In the United States, north of the Dixie Line, if you mow at 6am you should be ready to bale and wrap the next day at 4pm (34 hours elapsed time). If you mow at 10am, you should be ready to bale and wrap the next day at 8am (22 hours elapsed time). So it is better to wait until 10am vs. 6am to mow. Legumes should be mowed after 9am. The same principle applies to all types of grasses, except for the elapsed time. An example that is given is in Louisiana State, United States, the elapsed time from 0 to 4 hours and you will normally have reached 40-45% of dry matter. So this obviously depends on where you live. After you have mowed, this is when you can use the moisture technique that we will talk about in the next blog on how to easily test the moisture of the hay you have mowed in windrows.
In closing, I want to list several reasons why you might want to wrap hay after it is mowed and baled.
-1/3 of your bale could be potentially lost if you do not bale and wrap your hay due to spoilage and your livestock refusing to eat part of it and selectively eating the rest.
-baled haylage is easier for cows to digest because the haylage that comes from wrapped bales is slightly already digestedӔ per say because the lack of oxygen from the plastic wrap breaks down the lactic bacteria which turns the hay into usable energy.
-you can preserve your hay and keep nutrients inside until the day your livestock eat it
-consumption of hay will go up because your livestock will favor it against anything else, thus reducing your need for other cow feedӔ
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