How is hay made?
The process of making hay starts well before it is actually made, it is all in the planning!
The process of planting, growing & harvesting varies on the location. We hope this information gives you a general idea.
Depending on the crop type, paddocks start to be sprayed out to kill off grass & weeds in round about March (Autumn). Within a couple of weeks the paddocks are now ready to be ploughed, we are then hoping for some rain at this point, before the tractor & seeder run over the paddocks planting crops like oats & wheat (these are 1 season crops) meaning once they are harvested they don't grow back. Lucerne on the other hand can last up to 7 years & doesnt require planting every year if it is well looked after.
Over the winter, some crops are grazed off by cattle or sheep, allowing time to grow into the Spring season. A good rainfall is essential for dryland crops like wheat, oats, canola. Lucerne, rye, teff, clover are all irrigated.
Coming into October/November is the start of the new hay season, lucerne is being watered on a regular basis in preparation for being cut & baled. The process of baling hay is that firstly the crop is mowed by a tractor & mower, it is then allowed to dry on the ground for 4-7 days (weather dependant), during the time a tractor & teather may turn the hay over. When it is ready to be baled a tractor pulling a rake will rake the hay into rows for the tractor and baler to then drive along and form the bales. Baling is often done at night to ensure the right amount of moisture is in the air & bales. When baling lucerne for example, if they are baled dry then the leave will fall off/out of the bales especially when feeding out, if it is too humid, the bales can be overly moist, turning to mould and have the potential to catch on fire once stored in the shed.
Once the crop has been baled, a tractor with hay forks or a grab, will come along and pick them up, placing them on a trailer and the hay is then carted back to the sheds for storage for the rest of the year/until sold.