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HAY MAKING

Hay refers to grasses or legumes harvested at premature stage, dried and stored at 85-90 percent dry matter. The water content of fodder is reduced to such a level when it can be stored safely in stack without undergoing fermentation or becoming mouldy. Good quality hay can be prepared when green fodder is in excess and stored for use during lean season.

 

Harvest crop at proper stage

Ø  The best time for harvesting crops for hay making is when it is one-third to a half in flowering.

Ø  At this stage protein and vitamin content are high, fibre content is low.

Ø  Leguminaous fodders like lucerne, berseem, cowpea and soybean are good candidates for making hay.

Ø  Legume hays are rich in protein and minerals.

Ø  Among nonlegumes, oats and barley are good candidates for making hay. Although nonlegume hays are less in protein and minerals, their crop yield per hectre is higher and they are rich in carbohydrate.

 

Curing

Care should be taken that the crop should be saved from bleaching by the sun and leaves preserved from shattering with maximum removal of moisture. The cut crop should be allowed to lie in field for 5-6 hour until one third cured. It should be raked into small loose heaps which should be turned at three hour intervals. Hay may also be cured by hanging in tripod or on farm fences. Alternatively, crops can be chaffed and sprayed in thin layer on smooth clen surface with frequent stirring. Moisture content of hay should be reduced to less than 20 percent (preferably 15 percent) for safe storage. If moisture content is high, it will generate heat and fermentation will take place causing loss of nutrient.

 

Characteristics of good quality hay

Ø  Good hay should be leafy (loss of leaf should be minimum) as leaves are rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins.

Ø  Hay should be prepared from fodders cut at premature stage when nutrient content is maximum.

Ø  Good quality hay should be green in colour, soft, palatable, free from mould, free from weeds, have smell characteristics of the crop from which hay is made.