We are getting our first cut of hay today!
I can't tell you how happy I am that we are working with someone who has hay making experience AND is responsible! He also doesn't mind that we ask a lot of questions!
We decided to have the first cut taken off in Round Bales. I am not sure how it will work out but we decided to give it a try for one reason-
Putting up square bales is more labor intensive. With the round bales, you use the tractor to move the hay. When you have allergies, like most of my crew, handling the square bales can make one miserable.
It is also less work at feeding time. This past winter, feeding time was very difficult. Hauling individual bales of hay, twice a day, out to the sheep took its toll. One of these round bales are equivalent to 10-12 square bales. If you only have a few animals, it may not be the best option, but we have enough animals to justify using round bales.
There are some disadvantages to using Round Bales
Square bales sell better- we sell hay to homesteaders who only have a few animals. For this reason we will be putting up the second cut in square bales.
You need equipment to move the hay-
We are doing shares, so we do not have anything to do with the mowing, raking, and baling of the hay, just the moving and feeding of it. You need something to move the large bales which we are not set up for. Mike would like a skid loader, but that just isn't in the budget right now. He decided to purchase a hay spear which attaches to the tractor, so he can move the bales.
More Waste-I have been told there is more waste with the round bales.
Our sheep do a pretty good job of cleaning up the hay they are fed, but we will need to buy a feeder to put the round bales in. I am not sure what type we will buy, but hopefully they sell one that is goat proof! When we fed round bales in the past, we did not have a feeder, and the goats LOVED making a mess of the bales.
I am interested in finding out how much more room the round bales will take up in the barn.
If the hay can be stored inside, out of the elements, you will have less waste. I am not sure if we will have room for all of them. If not, the bales are wrapped in a netting that is suppose to shed some of the rain.
We figured our share would be 19-20 round bales from first cut, imagine our surprise when we were told, it was 37! The hay field produced twice as much hay as last year! I never thought I would be excited about HAY!'
Well, that is what happens when you start this thing called homesteading... who knew?
If you feed round bales, and have a recommendation on a feeder, I would love to hear from you!