Steve Hutchinson mowed about 25 acres for haylage on Friday, and about 24 hours later Jason has baled it, finishing at about 10 p.m.
The main difference between hay and haylage is the way it is made. Haylage is cut like hay, but only allowed to semi-wilt and not dry completely. It is cut later than grass for silage. On hill farms haylage is often mowed a bit later because everything is a few weeks behind on higher ground, and the extra time allows the crop to bulk up a bit, and unlike lowland farms there is rarely a second cut, so the first cut may have to provide all the winter fodder for the sheep and cattle. A common problem can be allowing the crop to wilt down too much, creating forage that is too dry. This can cause haylage to heat, reducing digestibility for livestock, and create harvest and storage losses, so in sunny weather with a dry breeze, speed is of the essence.
There’s about another 70 acres to go, and the plan is to have it done by Thursday. As you can see from the photographs, it’s a pretty impressive crop this year, with plenty of rain in the early summer, and a lot of sunshine over the past few weeks. After mowing, the rows are left to wilt, and then a rake is used to row up the crop for the baler, which is where Colin comes in! It’s a three handed operation, with the baler only 24 hours behind the mower in decent weather.