A Cowboy’s Faith: Ample grass for hay

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Make hay when the sun shines.”

A familiar saying for generations since the beginning of time most likely, its meaning has certainly come to life again.

Fortunately with all of the overly abundant rainfall, there is hay to make this year; at least right now. That’s sharply contrasting the situation a year earlier when lack of spring rains held back tame and native grasses alike.

Short grass, whatever the variety, means short hay and inadequate feedstuffs for livestock. Insufficient hay supplies coupled with harsh wet winter again hampered cattle profitability on many ranch and farm operations.

While those combined inclement winter days stalled fertilization so critical to tame grass growth, Mother Nature lent a helping hand. Despite nutrient application much later than management desired and scientific recommendation, there appears ample brome and other domesticated spring pastures.

Problems always seem to continue in one form or another. Getting those abundant spring grass supplies wrapped up into bales or into other feed storage methods is being hampered.

One sure feels bad ever complaining about moisture, but continuing small showers will not allow grass to dry into hay. Hay process requires mowing the grass and letting it dry sufficiently to be baled for storage. Moisture must be out or the feedstuff will spoil in the bale. Not only is the feed strongly devalued but sometimes harmful to livestock that consume it. Added to the worries, spoiling damp hay can continue festering causing bales to become flames of destruction.

Hay went into stacks for storage of forefathers with sometimes less risk of spoilage, although never eliminating bad hay problems.

Damper grass can generally be rolled up into big round bales of modern times with less burning issues, too. But when being unrolled, moldy feed in the heart of the bale is common.

Not nearly as much grass is put in small square bales as decades ago. But for those still doing that haying process, the grass must be completely dry or many problems can arise.

Too wet grass clogs the small square baler easily and hay seems to rot more rapidly. Not complaining, but frequent showers create added issues.

Thus more spring grasses are being made into silage where moisture is good instead of detriment.

Reminded of Psalm 104:14: “You grow grass to make hay for the animals to eat.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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