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Hay Making

Hay making is a process in which fodder is preserved for longer period of time without danger of spoilage, while keeping losses of dry matter and nutrients to the minimum. In this process fodder is dried upto extent that its moisture content is reduced from 70 - 90% to 10- 15% or less. At this moisture the chances of spoilage of fodder are minimum.

Crops for Hay Making:
Crops which are suitable for hay making are both leguminous and non leguminous crops. Mostly lucern (alfalfa), Rhode grass, Barseem, Oat, and Sudan grasses are considered best suitable for hay making. Alfalfa hay is considered the best hay.


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lucern  rhode grass  sudan grass
      Lucern                                  Rhode Grass                            Sudan Grass

barseem   oat
Barseem                                        Oat    

Important Points for Hay making:

  • The crops with stem and more leaves should be selected because leaves are more nutritious

  • Crop should be harvested at flowering stage (when flowering is initiated) because when crop matures, its lignin content increases and nutritive value decreases. As far as time is concerned, crop should be harvested early in the morning because at this time the dew has dried off. Grasses should be cut at pre flowering stage.

  • There should be minimum loss of green coloring matter during the process of drying.

  • The hay should be dried as early as possible. It helps in preservation of nutrients.

  • For proper curing crop should be tilted occasionally.

  • For storage the hay should not contain more than 15% moisture

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Methods of Hay Making:
There are a number of processes for hay making which may be applicable or suitable under certain sets of conditions with different advantages and disadvantages  

Ground or Field Curing Method:
In this method crop after harvesting is left in the field for drying under sunlight. The frequent turning is needed until the moisture in fodder remains 15%. Care should be taken that there may be minimum loss of leaves during drying. Advantages of this method are less involvement of cost, no need of any specific equipment, and convenience of preparing hay at the site of production. On the other hand it is not possible to make hay during humid condition through this method.


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Farm Fences Method:
In this method the forage after harvesting is spread over wire fencing or boundary wall of the farm. It is tilted once or twice before storage for proper curing.

Tripod or Pyramid Method Drying:
The tripod is made of three wooden or iron pieces. The average height of this stand may be 2 to 3 meters. The network of ordinary rope or wire may be made over this frame work. Grass is spread over the frame and is occasionally tilted by long stick or bamboo for even drying. In this method drying action is accelerated by increasing the total area of exposure to sun. There is minimum action of microbes in this method as there is no direct contact to soil.

 Advantages of Hay Making:

  • There is availability of nutritious feed to the animal during the scarcity of fodder.

  • Fodder can be preserved for longer period of time because due to lack of moisture content enzyme and microbial activities are stopped.

  • The good quality legume hay may replace certain amount of concentrate in the ration, thus reducing the cost of production

  • The fodders can be harvested at the stage when there is maximum accumulation of nutrient in the plant.

Quality of Hay:

  • It should have a typical aroma of the of fodder from which it has been prepared

  • It should be free from foreign material like dust etc.

  • This should possess reasonable green colour, which gives a rough idea or the quantity of the precursor of vitamin A, the carotene

  • It should maintain leafiness of original fodder. The loss of leaves during the process will produce a poor quality product.

  • This should be palatable to animals. The poorly prepared hay generally is not readily accepted by the animals

Storage of Hay:

In open environment hay can be stored in the following ways.

  • Hay stack on ground


  • The chopped hay - In some places hay is chopped before use. The limitation of chopped hay is that this cannot be stored in the open environment because of the heavy losses by wind and rains

  • The baled hay - The baling process makes the compact cubical bundles of the forages. This reduces the requirement of space in comparison to loose or chopped hay. The bales may be stored in open environment or in the barn


  • The wafers - For the preparation of wafers or compressed cubical form of hay the long hay is chopped in to 3-5 cm length and then compressed it in the wafering machine


  • The pallets - The compressed product of hay after grinding is known as pallets. They are cylindrical compact masses of hay which are very palatable. Palleting reduces feeding loss and storage space.


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