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How is hay made? Hay is made by cutting fresh grass at a mature stage and dried in order to stop respiration as well as enzyme activity from breaking down valuable nutrients. Hence, this enables hay as a dry stable forage for storage.
Method of preservation
In order to get good quality hay, rapid drying of the grass crop is required to preserve the nutritional value. There can be massive amount of nutrient losses in anything other than fine weather. This is because plant and microbial enzymes use up the valuable protein and energy from the grass during drying period. In an ideal scenario, the crop should be dried up to 80% dry matter within 3 days in order to prevent yeast and mould proliferation. Crops can be dried quicker using mower-conditioners and tedders.
When the dry matter is lower than 75%, there may be a great deal of spoilage, plenty of wastage as well as heating and potential fire risk.
Another matter to take into consideration is at which stage the grass is cut. A mature crop will dry much quicker and give a higher yield but the digestibility and nutrition value will decrease. When to cut the crop will be a compromise between weather, yield, and nutrition value.
Advantages of hay:
Great source of fibre
Can be stored for a long time without much nutrient loss
Easy to handle during feeding period
Does not require any special storage or handling equipments
The excess can be sold
Disadvantages of hay:
Low in protein
Limited intake potential
Storage condition needs to be dry
Field losses can be high
May be dusty and mouldy, increasing lung infection risk in livestock or producers
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