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  1. #1
    Gold Member Localmotion's Avatar
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    Default How To Build A Traditional Hay Stack?

    As the title says - looking for tips from those who have experience of building a proper loose hay stack...

    I have plenty of experience of baling when I was in the UK, but around here balers are few and far between and contractors charge heavily!. Often when we clear plots of land there is good grass which could be made into hay at different times of year, and so I am looking for a cheap affordable way to store it without getting the rain into it. I seem to remember that a traditional haystack sheds the rain if properly built?

    Any tips / ideas to make the process as simple as possible will be greatly appreciated
    Fiat-NH 50-86vi, Siromer 204S; Ebro 44; Case CK28; Cat 302.5; Nissan L35.09

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How To Build A Traditional Hay Stack?

    Quote Originally Posted by Localmotion View Post
    As the title says - looking for tips from those who have experience of building a proper loose hay stack...

    I have plenty of experience of baling when I was in the UK, but around here balers are few and far between and contractors charge heavily!. Often when we clear plots of land there is good grass which could be made into hay at different times of year, and so I am looking for a cheap affordable way to store it without getting the rain into it. I seem to remember that a traditional haystack sheds the rain if properly built?

    Any tips / ideas to make the process as simple as possible will be greatly appreciated
    I don't know, but will follow this thread because I think it is interesting.

    I have an old dairy barn, circa 1920 with the original hay hook in it. I don't think it was used for bales by the looks of it.

  3. #3
    Super Star Member Egon's Avatar
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    Default Re: How To Build A Traditional Hay Stack?

    Try and get the outside so the hay stems are in a semi vertical type position. Do the top the same way so the stems point outwards. Sorta like thatching. I many cases a poorer quality of hay is used to cap the stack. You may also consider sprinkling a little salt between layers.

    And yes; it all depends on how the hay is gathered as to how the stack is made. It doesn't always have to forked onto a hay wagon. Sweeps, things called buckpoles etc may be used. Takes a lot of the labour out and is definetly easier than the small square bales.

    Check out my Avitar.

    At one time the area I grew up in used what was called a tractor mounted Farmhand and Stack movers to handle hay.-farm-hand-jpg-p8120040-jpg-p8120070-jpg-p8120037-jpg-p8120031-jpg-p8120030-jpg-p8120041-jpg
    Egon
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    Worn out skin bag filled with rattlin bones

  4. #4
    Gold Member Localmotion's Avatar
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    Default Re: How To Build A Traditional Hay Stack?

    Thanks Egon - great photos... Is it your own collection or a museum somewhere near you? My wife has family in Canada and really hope one day we can go visit - especially if I can spend some time looking at old machinery

    Around here it is difficult to grow hay unless spending lots of money of irrigation. Part of our business is clearing fields / plots which have become overgrown to reduce the fire risk... In the past we have always simply scraped all the weed off into a pile in the field, and left it to rot. However on plots where we have now done this several times we are actually starting to get some half decent grass growing during winter - and because of the past scraping there is now not many rocks or stones to damage a mower. We have a topper, so this year I am going to start topping the plots which have been previously scrapped and had thought that I would convert an old muck fork into a sweep to collect the cuttings when they are dry to feed to our horses, donkeys, sheep, goats etc...

    The problem I have is that the plots are generally small. I had thought that I could make a stack on each plot, and then once I have enough to make it worth while I could get someone to go around all the plots and bale the stacks for me. But I think this will still cost more than any hay I get will be worth!

    Another option is that I can load the grass onto our lorry and bring it back home to build a stack, but I'm not sure if it would work out well as the stack may sit for a few weeks (catching the dew and any rain) before getting more grass added to it - risking the chance of simply building a giant compost heap rather than a haystack! Is it possible to build small hay stacks (ie - what volume of crop is needed to ensure the majority stays dry)? Or has anyone else tried building a stack which can be added to throughout the season?

    It may be that I am just dreaming, and actually this "free" hay will cost me more in time and effort than buying in bales, but it just seems such a waste to see it piled up to rot and not use it!
    Fiat-NH 50-86vi, Siromer 204S; Ebro 44; Case CK28; Cat 302.5; Nissan L35.09

  5. #5
    Super Star Member Egon's Avatar
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    Default Re: How To Build A Traditional Hay Stack?

    Pictures are from the Stettler Alberta Museum.

    With small amounts and a sweep think about
    tarps and frames to allow circulation???

    Please note that My agriculture experience is from a long time back from one specific area so it may be a little shady.
    Egon
    50 years behind the times
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  6. #6
    Gold Member Localmotion's Avatar
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    Default Re: How To Build A Traditional Hay Stack?

    Thanks again Egon - the tarps / frames idea is a good one. I even have an old Poly tunnel frame here somewhere, so definitely feed for thought (and hopefully the animals)!!

    "long time back" experience is what we're needing here - I have many years farming and machinery experience, but here in Spain I can't justify the cost of buying livestock related machinery not vital to our core business as the animals are now my hobby instead of my income!
    Fiat-NH 50-86vi, Siromer 204S; Ebro 44; Case CK28; Cat 302.5; Nissan L35.09

  7. #7
    Veteran Member vtsnowedin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How To Build A Traditional Hay Stack?

    As a boy we hayed with horses and put it into the barn loose. The hay was cut with a six foot ground driven mower pulled by the team and ,when dry, raked into windrows with a ten foot wide dump rake. These were then cut into sections and rolled up into tumbles weighing about fifty lbs. with a hand held "Bull" rake. Picture a comb with eighteen inch wooden teeth four inches apart and four to five feet wide. When the teeth were flat on the ground the handle came out straight up but was bent in a quarter circle forward and ended waist high in a two foot horizontal section that fit the hands. The handle was split in two sections in the curve and attached at the third points of the comb back and there was a round cross hand grip where the two sides come together. The handle and back beam were of ash and the teeth were of maple. Whole farms were raked with these before the invention of the dump rake which was inspired by them.
    These tumbles were pitched onto a hay wagon with a pitch fork and built into a load in a regular pattern as they bound together and had to be pitched off in exact reverse order if not using a hay fork.
    To build a stack outside plant a wooden pole about fourteen feet long and three inches in diameter into some dry ground so it sticks up eleven feet or so. Add some old planks or crushed rock in a circle around the base to retard moisture uptake if you wish. Then pitch off your tumbles around the base of the pole in a circle three or four rows of tumbles out from the center treading each one in with your feet . Add more layers again treading them in and filling in any low spots by putting the center of the next tumble over the gap between the ones below. Round and round up and up pulling in the last layers slightly packing and treading as you go to get it as dense as possible. At the end of each day comb down the sides with a pitchfork to line up the outside layer of hay to promote runoff and pitch the combings back onto the top. I'd cover with a tarp to save wastage especially until you get the whole stack built as you don't want water to get into the center. When you get to the top of the pole set back each layer sharply to build the peaked haystack shape and throw on a layer of hay you don't mind wasting if your not going to tarp it.
    Smaller stacks without center poles are called cocks and can be built with just a dozen tumbles of hay and were often hastily built when rain approached. A tumble if picked up right with a pitch fork can be carried over the shoulder with the handle almost vertical for quite a distance. You can then pitch it up as far as your arm and the handle will reach and pass it to the man building the stack.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How To Build A Traditional Hay Stack?

    It sounds to me you need to investigate silage before the large round bailers came into vogue around here it was popular I have never done it myself so you need to do some research Basically the grass is cut semi dried and packed into a pit cut into a hillside as much air as possible is squeezed out by rolling the pile with the tractor wheels as you are loading the pit then the pile is covered with a large plastic cover dirt around the edges to keep it air tight. The grass ferments /breaks down into a fowl smelling product that the stock love and is twice as nutritious as hay

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How To Build A Traditional Hay Stack?

    Localmotion,
    If you go to Youtube and search for 'hay sweep' you should find a modern home built one in action. It's on a Kuboda with a belly mower and carries some impressive loads of hay for the size of the tractor. The dimensions are given somewhere under the videos or in the comments. This is a two parter. There's also some video on Youtube of a horse drawn sweep and stacker in operation. One of the workers throws a white powder onto the hay and I actually have a question in as to what that powder is. Fortunately Egon has confirmed my theory that it must be salt. I can't remember what search words brought up the video with the salt. I've been interested in this for a long time and sometimes use 'hay sweep, sweep rake, bever slide, and hay stacker.

  10. #10
    Veteran Member vtsnowedin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How To Build A Traditional Hay Stack?

    Yes the powder would be salt. It draws excess moisture out of hay that is not quite dry, helping to prevent mold and makes the hay taste better to the stock it is fed too. We used to go through a 100 pound bag per year for barns that held some forty ton of hay.

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