What is Hay?

Hay is a grass that has actually been cut, dried, and also stored for animal feed. Many kind of different kinds of plants have the right to be provided as hay, yet in Iowa now, alfalfa and clover are the a lot of common. As Americans relocated west onto the Great Plains in the 19th century, they would certainly often usage the prairie grasses that were growing tbelow to feed their livestock.

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Hay versus straw: Hay and also straw are typically puzzled. Hay is made from the stems, leaves, and also seed heads of plants that are fresh. It is cut and baled when it has the a lot of nutritional worth, and is fed to livestock. Straw is likewise made from the stems and leaves of plants, however is reduced after of the plants have been allowed to mature and the seed heads have been harvested for somepoint else. Straw has extremely little bit nutritional worth, and also is best offered as bedding for animals.

History of Hay

Many type of different plants have actually been provided throughout history to feed animals. The initially farmers on the prairie would certainly reduced the prairie grasses and usage them to feed their livestock. Timothy grass and clover, both plants indigenous to Europe, were the most common plants supplied for hay in the early on 20th century.

Alfalfa conveniently replaced timothy and clover after it was presented in Iowa at the end of the 19th century. Alfalfa became the a lot of prevalent plant for hay. It is believed that alfalfa is native to in main Asia where it was initially supplied to feed animals. Alfalfa spread promptly to all components of the world. By the beforehand 1700s, alfalfa was being grvery own in Central and The United States and Canada. By the mid-1700s, the British colonies of New York, Virginia, and Georgia all reported prospering alfalfa. By the 1850s, alfalfa was being grvery own in The golden state.

Today, alfalfa is still the main plant for hay.

How Crops Become Hay

In basic, three measures are required to turn a green crop into what can be dubbed hay: cutting, drying, and also baling. Then, hay need to be stored correctly in order for it to hold onto the nutrients. If hay becomes wet, or if it sits in the sunlight, nutrients deserve to be shed.

Cutting Hay

Cutting hay has actually been, and can be, done in many kind of means.

By hand: For thousands of years, hay was reduced through hand-held devices prefer a scythe.By horse-attracted machine: In the 19th century, many kind of devices that could reduced hay were designed that might be pulled via horses. Many hay mowers were invented in the 19th century.By machine pulled by a tractor: When tractors were designed, the hay mower was boosted as well.


Hay must dry before it can be baled. When hay is reduced, farmers leave it in the field and also enable it to partially dry. Then the farmer will rake the hay right into what are called windrows. Rain can damages the hay the many at this phase. Rain slows dvery own the drying process, and also too a lot rain deserve to cause the hay to start to spoil in the field.

Baling Hay

The initially hay baling devices was created in the late 1800s. These at an early stage baling machines were stationary, and also the hay had actually to concerned it. Hay was brought by hand to wagons that then took the hay to these early balers, wright here the machine pressed the hay into square bales. By the 1930s, hay baling tools can be pulled by tractors and pick up the hay from the ground. This conserved the farmer many time and also energy!

Storing Hay

Stacking is the oldest strategy of storing hay, and various components of the civilization stacked hay in a different way. On the Iowa prairie in the 1840s and also 1850s, these stacks periodically doubled as real estate for pets. As the farm boosted, bigger barns were developed that might store more than simply tools and seed. Large barns frequently organized substantial amounts of hay stacked in the facility. In 1900, loose hay was stored in the barn. The hay would be brought by wagon to the barn wbelow it would be put into the hay loft.

Interelaxing Facts around Hay

How many kind of acres of hay were harvested in Iowa in these years?

1900 – 2,577,000 acres1957 – 3,744,000 acres2016 – 910,000 acres

How many kind of tons of hay were developed in Iowa in these years?

1900 – 3,608,900 tons1957 – 7,938,000 tons2016 – 3,210,000 tons

What was the worth of the hay chop created in Iowa in these years?

1900 – $23,458,656 (in 1900 era dollars)1957 – $123,039,000 (in 1957 era dollars)2016 – $294,915,000 (in 2016 era dollars)

Sources: 1900: Van Hooten, G. H. The Iowa Yearbook of Agrisociety. Des Moines: B. Murphy, 1901.1957: Iowa State Department of Agrisociety. 2nd Biennial Report of Iowa Publication of Agriculture. Des Moines: State of Iowa, 1958. 2016: United States Department of Agrisociety, National Agrisocial Statistics Services.

Hay Today

Today, the process for prospering hay still involves letting the plants prosper to maturity, then cutting it, letting it dry in the sunlight, raking it, and also gathering it up in some form, whether that be round or square bales, or as loose hay. Farmers now have various modern technology and also devices for flourishing, baling, and storing hay.

Preparing the soil

The land also is ready like it would be for any type of various other vegetable crop. Farmers will certainly test the soil to identify if any fertilizers must be included. If necessary the farmer will certainly then include the proper amount of fertilizer. The area need to be totally free from weeds as much as feasible. Weeds will make it hard for the alfalfa, clover, or timothy to thrive.

Planting and also growing

Some areas are constantly provided to flourish hay, and also don’t need re-planting yearly. In various other cases, hay is a component of a chop rotation, wright here farmers plant different plants on the exact same area in various years. Hayseed have the right to be a mixture of many forms of seeds, through alfalfa, clover, and timothy being among the the majority of common. The seed deserve to be planted many type of means, from being spcheck out by hand for little areas, to being planted through devices choose a grain drill.

Cutting hay

Cutting hay is done when the hay has actually the many nutritional value. Generally that is after around 60 days once harvesting alfalfa for hay. The very same area of hay deserve to be reduced two or three times in the very same seachild. Machines that deserve to cut hay are called mowers.

Today tbelow are 2 kinds of mowers supplied to reduced hay that have the right to be pulled by makers.

Rotary disk mowers have numerous round discs that cut the hay.Sickle bar mowers have a bar through teeth that cut down the hay.

Stacking and baling

Throughout the 20th century, hay baling tools ongoing to improve. In the at an early stage component of the century, a device was developed that could make round hay bales. Round hay bales were not common till after a professor and also a team of students at Iowa State College came up via a much improved architecture for a machine that might make round bales.

In the mid-1960s, Wesley Buchele, a mechanical engineer at Iowa State University, working with graduate students, developed a mechanical baling machine that would create a huge, 700 lb. round bale. One perboy through a tractor can handle these expensive bales, from harvest to baling to delivering to feeding livestock, without ever emotional the hay. Today, round bales are the most widespread way to save hay in the USA.

Transporting and also Storing

Transporting baled hay to the barn today is done either by relocating each bale with a tractor (which takes a lengthy time!) or placing many kind of bales of hay onto a wagon and also taking to the barn that way. Today, square or round bales of hay deserve to be stored in a barn or various other outstructure via a roof to defend it as a lot as feasible from the weather. Hay that is left outside has actually some sort of covering to safeguard it from the weather.

Video courtesy of iowadairyboys

Uses of Hay

Feeding hay to livestock is the number one usage for hay.

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Althe majority of any type of animal on the farm – horses, livestock, sheep, goats, and so on.- will certainly eat hay. Hay is generally fed to livestock when they cannot graze or be in a pasture, either because it is winter or bereason of drought. Different pets have different nutritional requirements. Farmers closely monitor what an pet is eating, to make certain the pets are healthy and balanced. If hay spoils, it is not good to feed to animals, as rotten hay can make livestock sick.