Pasture has the potential to provide
1. The horses nutrition
2. A Safe exercise area
Potentials rarely achieved, often neglected

All information given here is believed to be correct but the author cannot be responsible for any consequences of it's use.

Pasture Management

by Denis Lindsell
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Why make hay?

Preserving grass by reducing the water content to a level at which moulds, bacteria and enzymes are not active

To be safe a water content of 15-20% is required

What does the process involve?
Cutting, drying, storing


The effect of sward composition

Species - characteristics and nutrient content of grasses will influence the final product. Hay can be broadly catagorised by the species present -

Nutrient status of soil, liming and fertiliser regime will afffect nutrient values of the product.

The maturity of the sward at the time of cutting will affect hay quality. The more mature grasses (those setting seed) will have considerable lower protein levels than younger grasses.

How will early cutting of the hay crop affect the hay crop?

How will a lower cutting height affect the hay crop?

Weather conditions for field curing

Crop should be dry at cutting. There is no point cutting when the crop is wet as it will dry quicker when it is standing.
Should expect enough dry weather to be able to make the hay. It not sufficient for it simply be not raining. Reasonably low humidity levels, and at least a slight wind will be required to dry the hay to a safe level.

How can the drying process be speeded up?

When should the hay be baled?

A moisture content of 15-20% is required for safe storage- check by twisting samples of the hay (there shouldn't be any obvious moisture). If the bales are not carted immediately, there may be some further moisture loss from the bales

Barn drying of hay

Hay can be baled at up to 50% moisture and dried further by blowing dry air through it in the barn.

Cold air of suitable RH% in large quantities but max moisture of 35%

Warm air for drying in smaller batches with max moisture of 50% where use is made of the fact that each 1oC temp rise reduces RH by 5%.

Benefits of barn drying

Hay Quality

This will depend on -

Variations in Nutrient Value of Hay

Protein content of hay tested in the Duchy College laboratories have varied from 4% to over 10% and these will be suprisingly common. This will be due to the quality of the cut swath, and the quality of the making process. An analysis of hay is recommended as a visual assessment does not give you enough information. Plenty of books may state that poor hay has a protein content of 4% and good hay has a protein content of 10%. Unfortunately many peole will believe they are feeding good quality hay when this is not infact the case.

The Assessment of Hay Quality