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  1. #1
    Bronze Member dan_d's Avatar
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    Massey 275 + 236 loader, JohnDeere-Lanz 510 39HP 3cyl Diesel

    Default haying 101

    So assuming I get my baler working, this will be my first time doing hay on my own... so where do i start? I know what I'm *supposed* to do, but all the little details, tips and tricks, etc are beyond me! Here's the extent of my knowledge (don't assume I know anything not explicitly in this list ):
    - Pray for sunny weather
    - Mow (in my case I for sure can borrow a sickle mower, and might be lucky enough to borrow a hay bine)
    - Pray for sunny weather
    - Wait a day or two, then rake
    - Pray for sunny weather!
    - Wait another day then bale (small squares in my case)
    - Get the wagon out and get the hay into the barn before it rains!
    - Repeat with remaining fields

    A few specifics I was wondering about
    - any particular pattern I should mow/rake/bale? ( i guess having the baler stick out the right side limits my options somewhat...)
    - how slow should i bale?
    - any tell-tale signs that the hay is (not) ready to be baled?
    - since i'll be doing most of the work myself, i guess I shouldn't cut more than I could bale and bring in in a single day? Not really sure how many bales that would be...? I can get ~120 bales on the wagon, but realistically how many loads should I expect to do in a day? (I'm in decent shape, but no superman by any means! )

    More generally I'm just looking for common pitfalls to avoid, and any other tricks of the trade (specific tools I should have handy? ) that you veterans might have would be very greatly appreciated!!

    Cheers,
    Dan

  2. #2
    Veteran Member Rara Avis's Avatar
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    VT, ND & OH
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    John Deere

    Default Re: haying 101

    There are whole books written about this stuff...

    John Deere - John Deere Publishing

    This is a good one...

    Hay and Forage Harvesting
    "Real world" evaluations of the many different ways to improve hay and forage harvesting and storage efficiency.
    Book ゥ 2004 FMO14105NC US$ 40.95
    Instructor Guide FMO14505T US$ 52.95
    Student Guide FMO14605W US$ 17.95

  3. #3
    Bronze Member dan_d's Avatar
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    Bloomfield, ON, Canada
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    Massey 275 + 236 loader, JohnDeere-Lanz 510 39HP 3cyl Diesel

    Default Re: haying 101

    hah, who would have thought... I kinda assumed that the old guys just learned this stuff workin in the fields since they were little kids, and passed it on to their kids, and so on and so forth. I guess I might want to hit up amazon.ca and see what's around!

    DD

  4. #4
    Elite Member zzvyb6's Avatar
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    michigan
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    jd 1070

    Default Re: haying 101

    I started out by working as an 'apprentice' for a real dairy farmer. I just wanted to hang around the machinery: helped with repair, maintenance, setup. That allowed me to gain some trust. Then I was allowed to borrow his equipment. It came back in the same shape or better. In fact I bought his mower and rake when he upgraded.

    The safety aspect of this is usually under rated. Every machine in your view wants to kill you. The best advice ever given on haying was to cut, rake and bale at the same speed as a horse team powered deal would run. If you are in a hurry, things will break, your eagerness will disappear, your family will suffer and you will get hurt (dismembered is the most common post mortem).

    Somewhere in your list you forgot to mention raking...
    There is no "I" in team, but there is a "Me" if you want to jumble it up a bit...

  5. #5
    Veteran Member Mickey_Fx's Avatar
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    Vancouver Wa.
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    Yanmar Fx24D, Cub 3204

    Default Re: haying 101

    Been some years since I've done any haying. Like you Dan, I had to learn on my own, on the job experience.

    Looks like you've got the basics down in the correct order. Hope you are not really going to be doing the complete job on your own. Sounds like weather is a real issue in your area. Up until the picking up the bales, it can be a one man job but you do need help picking up the field and getting it into the barn.

    Timing is everything and this goes for the grass maturity as well. You can't take your time to the point where the grass is past maturity if you are wanting decent qlty hay.

    Is your field fenced in? If so, the outer row needs to be done in the CCW direction so the implements can get close to the fence. Come baling time, you'll have to moves some bales to accommodate the equipment as you make that CCW pass.

    As for baling speed. Somewhat depends upon you equipment. Do you have the power and is equip in decent shape to adequately handle the job. Wind rows need to be of adequate size so hay is entering the baler at a decent rate. Plunger speed also comes into the picture. The faster the plunger the more hay you have to have entering the baler to keep feeding it. You need consistent feed rate if you want consistent bale weights. I had a 50 HP tractor and a new JD336 baler and was pumping out bales at a rate of about one ever 10 sec.

    Good luck.
    Yanmar Fx24D,
    Koyker 155 loader,
    RSB-1300 tiller
    Cub 3204, 48" mower
    Bolen 1257 GT with tiller

  6. #6
    Bronze Member
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    Ottawa, Ontario

    Default Re: haying 101

    You don't have time to read a book, it's time to cut now! (at least in my area, just waiting for a break in the weather). Here's some quick articles that help out:

    Making Horse Hay Part Three: Hay Cuttings by Cherry Hill

    Haying FAQ

    Make sure all your implements are in working order. You should cut/rake/bale a test patch before you cut your entire field. If your baler breaks, you'll only lose 1 acre as opposed to many.

    Make sure the hay moisture level is appropriate before you bale. Since you're just starting out, a moisture tester would be very helpful.

    I really hope you're not stacking and unloading by yourself... you will want to pay for some extra hands, trust me!

    Do some searching for other threads on haying, there's a lot of good tips.

  7. #7
    Bronze Member dan_d's Avatar
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    Bloomfield, ON, Canada
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    Massey 275 + 236 loader, JohnDeere-Lanz 510 39HP 3cyl Diesel

    Default Re: haying 101

    thanks for the info everyone!

    @zzvyb6: I did mention raking.. "- Wait a day or two, then rake" Thanks for the safety reminder tho. I definitely stop everything before trying to fix/dislodge things, and have had a few reminders to be especially aware when turning corners so you don't catch your implements in the rear tractor tire!

    @Neglicence: good call on the "small patch" test... this baler has been sitting for at least 10 years (and possibly longer since the nieghbour only remembers the previous house owners brining in the baler, and doesn't know how long it sat before they came!). I've probably made it tie 60+ knots by now (micro-bales of course!) but i should really get the rake out and cut a few strips just for test-baling purposes. Even if it doesn't dry, the wife can still feed them out so it wouldn't be wasted!

    Dan

    P.S: eeesh, just found this in one of those links... 3AM?!?
    Once the hay in the windrow is determined to be at the appropriate moisture level, the hay should be baled with the aid of the morning dew to help hold the leaves on the stems. This may require the hay grower to get up at 3 AM and bale for the few hours when baling is optimum.

  8. #8
    Super Member Iplayfarmer's Avatar
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    Idaho
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    Massey Ferguson 1215, Toro 266-H, Pennsylvania Panzer, Case 444, Craftsman 14/6

    Default Re: haying 101

    I only put up hay for a few years and it was back in High School, but here's what I learned that wasn't mentioned.

    Cutting is pretty straight forward. You cut hay and put it in winrows. Just plan ahead as you are cutting and try to plan your baling route as you are cutting. I always cut with a swather that winrowed as it cut, and we never did rake. We did make an effort to keep the winrows pretty uniform to make baling easier. If you're in a thicker part of the field take less of a swath. If you are in a thinner stand, use the whole width of the header. I know Dad always started on the longest side of the field and ended on the shortest. He said it was because the last pass is always crooked and he wanted the crooked row to be the shortest.

    Baling is where the real lessons are learned. Moisture is a big deal! Wet bales will spontaneously combust. Dry hay will lose all its leaves. (We usually did Alfalfa hay.) We'd let the hay dry out and then do as was previously mentioned... baled with the evening or morning dew on it. Most of the baling is done in poor lighting as a result.

    Ground speed is important while you are baling. Too slow and you end up with loose bales that are hard to handle. Too fast and you plug up the baler and break stuff. Dad always said to go fast enough that the baler just almost looks like there's too much in it right before the plunger sweeps the hay away. It's an art. Just plan on the first crop being hard to handle.

    This is just my own personal opinion, but I'd much rather leave bales in the field than standing hay or downed winrows. Standing hay matures and loses nutrients. Downed hay just gets harder to bale and leaches nutrients the whole time it's on the ground. Bales will also bleach and leach nutrients, but it's only the outside of the bale. The inside of the bale stays good and green.
    From now on I will only buy cars that are a silver/grey color. Then I can make all body repairs with Duct Tape.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member Rara Avis's Avatar
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    Default Re: haying 101

    Quote Originally Posted by dan_d
    hah, who would have thought... I kinda assumed that the old guys just learned this stuff workin in the fields since they were little kids, and passed it on to their kids, and so on and so forth. I guess I might want to hit up amazon.ca and see what's around!

    DD
    The fine details you learn from a human being...hopefully on your equipment...

  10. #10
    Bronze Member dan_d's Avatar
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    Massey 275 + 236 loader, JohnDeere-Lanz 510 39HP 3cyl Diesel

    Default Re: haying 101

    Well, I'm upto about 1000 bales as of yesterday (don't know for sure, my bale counter is messed ) , and here's some of the stuff i've learned so far:

    - Weather sucks!
    - Don't do anything before the dew is off the ground (don't forget to check the shady edges of the field!)
    - Tractor brakes will not stop a loaded hay wagon going downhill...
    - Can't bale near/after sundown
    - Weather sucks!
    - Bring lots of tools: screwdrivers, needlenose pliers, vice grips, hammer, punch, sockets, the works. And a good knife to cut out failed knots.
    - Have lots of flywheel shear pins handy
    - Always have a (full!) spare can of gas around
    - Weather sucks!
    - I need a more permanent sun protection solution... my umbrella only lasted about a week!

    - I also need a rear-view mirror; my neck is *killing* me from looking back at the baler for hours on end!


    Hopefully this will help someone later on!

    DD

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