The sun was shining, and the grass was ready. In our area, farmers start haying the last week of May and hope to finish by mid-June. Why such a short window? Because this is when the grass is the most nutritious. Once it starts to "head" it loses nutritional value. If you cut it later, say July, you’ll have more yield, more bales, but they are not as good. They will keep the animal alive the following winter but will not make much milk (or for beef animals, add much weight).
Lisa and I have been working long days (and evenings) getting the grass cut, dried, raked into rows, baled, hauled off the fields, wrapped and stacked. We just finished the home fields yesterday evening, hours before the rain today. 227 round bales or about 165,000 pounds of hay. Looking back at our historical records, this is a good year for hay crops, up 27% from last year. This is due to weather: lots of sunny days and just the right amount of rain. Each cow will eat about 19 round bales, so we now have enough for 12 cows this coming winter.
We still need another 130 or so bales. A couple remote fields will provide some more bales. Then late July, when the grass has grown back, we do it all again! This is called “second cut.” Second cut will only yield about one third as much as first cut. However, it is even more nutritious. (Very leafy; almost no stems). Added all together, we should have enough to feed the cows this winter -and it will be quality feed.
The cows like that.
Randy Robar, co-owner of Kiss the Cow Farm