Patience the Key to Curing Frosted Cereal Hay

Following some reports of frost damage to crops throughout areas of Australia, the Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) is reminding growers considering hay as an option for frosted crops to make a sure their hay is properly cured to avoid haystack fires.

Areas effected by frosts include SA, WA, NSW and Victoria. With this set of circumstances we are seeing farmers consiodering options for cutting cereal crops for hay. If the call is made to cut there are a number of things to consider including access to hay making equipment or contractors and marketing options, but growers will also need to remember the basics on making hay. Once the decision is made to cut the crop get it done as soon as possible conserve as much of the nutritional quality in the hay as growers can. However once the crop is cut you need to be patient to ensure that hay is properly cured.

Achieving the correct curing before baling is important for the prevention of hay shed fires. If you have doubts of  moisture content of hay before baling  speak with your local agronomist or contractor. This discussion could mean the difference between making high qaulity hay or losing a stack to fire.  

AFIA has put together some fact sheets for making hay from frost damaged crops. To find out more click the link below.



How to Take Fodder Samples for Analysis

The accuracy of fodder analysis depends on the sample you send to the laboratory.  It is critical that the sample represents the average composition of the "lot" of fodder sampled, otherwise the laboratory tests will not be useful.

A "lot" is defined as hay or silage taken from the same cutting, at the same stage of maturity, the same species (pure or mixed) and variety, the same paddock, and harvested within 48 hours.  Other factors influencing the definition of a "lot" include rain damage, weed content, soil type, treatment after cutting and storage effects.  A "lot" of baled hay or cubes should not exceed 200 tonnes.

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Guide to Moisture Content of Hay

Frank Mickan is the Pasture and Fodder Conservation Specialist with the Department Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) at Elinbank in Victoria. 

Heating is most likely to damage hay stored at moistures above 30%.  Minimum changes occur if it is baled at 20% or less although if it is uniformly dry it can be baled and stored safely at 25%.  The 25% level is the average moisture in curing hay at which it is dry enough overall to avoid moulding or hot spots that occur with variations in moisture content that are usually at higher average moisture.  Large square bales need to be baled at a lower moisture content than small square or round bales.

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Managing Hay After it Rains

Frank Mickan is the Pasture and Fodder Conservation Specialist with the Department Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) at Elinbank in Victoria.

"Murphy’s Law says that Once you’ve baled your hay it will rain!” says Frank Mickan, Pasture and Fodder Conservation Specialist, NRE, Ellinbank. Many farmers are starting to realise the benefits of feeding or selling higher quality hay in recent years because they have learnt that higher quality means more meat or milk production. As a result some farmers are risking making slightly earlier hay and so increasing the risk of meeting rain head on! However earlier hay making can be greatly assisted by utilising mower conditioners and tedders.

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