Baling hay the low-cost way



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Content: Many farmers make and store hay for their animals to eat in the dry season. The easiest way to handle good, dry hay is in bales. You can make a low-cost baler. Make a square box without a top or bottom. Cut and dry your hay early in the rainy season, pack it into the box, and tie it up with twine. Bales can be handled and stored very easily.

Farmers all over the world keep cattle and other grass-eating animals. For many of these animals, there is little or no grass to eat during the dry season. The best way to solve this problem is to cut some good grass when there is plenty of it, dry it, and store it as hay to feed to the animals when the dry season comes.

Most farmers handle dry hay with a hay fork. However, there is a much easier way if you have a place to store it under a roof or in a shed. You could try tying your hay up in bundles using a special method. Rupert Nelson, an agriculturalist in Thailand, described how one farmer makes his hay into easily-handled, solid, square bundles or bales. Instead of an expensive machine that presses the hay into bales, he uses a homemade baler that cost him very little.

If you decide to try this method, your only cost will be for boards and nails to make a baling box, and perhaps for string or twine to tie up the bales of hay as you make them.

Rupert says that the best time to cut grass for hay is early in the rainy season when it is still tender and has lots of good food value for your animals. It is best then to rake it into small piles and let it dry in the sun. Hay is dry enough to bale if a handful of it feels brittle in your hands when you twist it.

The hay baling box is a sturdy square box, about half a metre (1 1/2 feet) each way. This box is special, because it has no top or bottom, just the four sides. And when you make it, taper the sides of the box in a little bit at the bottom. This way. it will be a little smaller at the bottom, and it will be easier to use.

To bale your dry hay, set your homemade hay baler on the ground and place two long pieces of twine across the top about, 25 cm. (10 in.) apart. Then start putting your dry hay into the box, pressing the hay and the twine right to the bottom. Because the twine is long, the loose ends of both pieces will still be hanging out on each side of the box.

As you continue to add more hay, keep pressing it down in the box with your feet. Keep on tramping it in until you have packed in as much dry hay as you possibly can. Then pull the two loose ends of one piece of twine tightly around the hay in the box and tie them securely. Do the same with the other piece of twine. Pick up the box, turn it upside down, and your nice neat bale of hay will drop out onto the ground.

Bales of hay like this are easy to handle, to pile on a cart, and to store in a shed or under a thatched roof. Then when you are going to feed the hay to your animals, you will find that nothing could be easier to handle than one of these bales of hay.



Other DCFRN items about harvesting and drying hay are:

Hay (Part 1 – Harvesting and Drying Hay) – Package 9, Item 4

Hay (Part 2 – Making a Haystack) – Package 9, Item 5

Information sources

All information in this item was provided to George Atkins in an interview by DCFRN Participant Rupert Nelson, an agricultural missionary at the Centre for the Uplift of the Hill Tribes, Chiang Mai, Thailand.