Have you heard the phrase; “Make hay while the sun shines”? Late July into mid-August 2013 was unusually cool, cloudy and sometimes damp! Conditions not welcome for hay making. The “make hay…” saying now holds real truth for our family as the conditions have changed!
We have made small square baled hay since the early 1990s. It is an activity I enjoyed as a youth on my grandparents farm. For many years, hay making served as stress relief from my day job and the opportunity to make additional income. Like many things, now that we have cattle, my view on making hay has changed.
Stored feed (hay) is a large cost in cattle production. Reports indicate cattle producers from Canada to the Gulf Coast feed hay for about 120 days every year (think about that). We now have a cow herd in this country that is largely dependent on someone bringing them a meal for much of the year. We currently feed some hay on our farm as we work to improve our forage base.
Our goal is to view hay in our operation as “insurance”. Hay in the shed provides insurance against short-term climatic events that prevent cattle from being able to graze. The rest of the year, we expect our cattle to forage for their own meal. It is our job to coordinate the herd movements in harmony with grass growth so the cow can do what God designed her to do. By the way, cattle love their job!