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Purdue Extension helps producers ensure successful hay harvest

With the hay harvest just a few weeks away, two free “Beef Tips” videos now available from Purdue Extension could help Indiana beef producers maximize the quality and quantity of their forage crops.

The videos were developed by Ron Lemenager, Extension beef specialist, and Keith Johnson, Extension forage specialist.

“Most beef producers rely on harvested forages as a primary feed resource during at least part of the winter-feeding period and when dry weather during the growing season reduces pasture growth,” Lemenager said.

The first video, “Timing of Hay Harvest,” examines proper cutting techniques for common grasses and legumes — including tall fescue, orchardgrass, alfalfa and red clover — and provides tips on how to determine proper bale moisture content and monitor internal bale temperature to reduce the fire risk. It can be downloaded from Purdue Extension’s The Education Store at https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?Item_Number=AS-655-WV.

“To make excellent quality hay, the forage needs to be cut at the right growth stage and packaged into a bale at the right moisture content without incidence of rain damage, Johnson said. “Baling hay too wet can result in mold formation, reduced quality and the possibility of spontaneous combustion. When the hay is baled too dry, leaf loss occurs which results in less yield and quality.”

“The Process of Making Dry Hay” includes step-by-step tips on the proper use of equipment needed to make dry hay. Topics include modern mowing technologies, when and how to use tedders, proper raking techniques and the differences between round and square bales. It can be downloaded from The Education Store at https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?Item_Number=AS-654-WV

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