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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
New to the forum by a few days but already getting great benefits. I have another topic to get comments on. Last year, I had a guy buying hay for his race horses and he probed every one of my alfalfa bales for temperature and moisture as we were unloading. He ended up only taking 2/3 of the bales so I got a little frustrated and decided to have my hay tested to prove or disprove the quality so that didn't happen again. I tried searching for hay test results on this site and many said they didn't bother with testing because no one could interpret the results. Last year, I scoured the internet and found some documentation on some of the values but not all so that I could explain the results. I am seeing if anyone here agrees with the "Indicator Comments" that I have made and if anyone can interpret further the values. I know the easy out on these tests is to talk about the Moisture %, RFV and RFQ but I wanted to figure out more. Let me explain a few details. Sample 1 was pure afalfa cut in late september and near perfect conditions and the test results show this. Sample 2 was an mostly Alfalfa with 25% Orchard Grass mix and it was second best. However, it had the higher RFQ but lower RFV. Not sure which value is more important. The third sample was pure Alfalfa but was cut post bloom and lower results but still good hay. Pioneer Alfalfa - Leaf Hopper is the alfalfa and the Mix is Barenbrug. Sample 1 and Sample 2 had TDN Equine values at the absolute top of the recommended range so it was kick butt hay. I have been told there is a high dollar race horse at the local track that will only eat my hay and it is out of Sample 1. Even Sample 3 was close to high range despite having much lower RFQ and RFV values. Despite my high testing values, the coloration wasn't good for all samples as I have some brown on top and green underneath issue that I need to resolve. If you bought my hay on color, you wouldn't have paid as much.

I actually mixed a TDN Equine Test, a Standard Legume Test and a Callibrate Test because I wasn't sure what to use. The target audience in the future will be horses so I will stick with TDN Equine test. It is $4 more than standard. I had a company named SureTech do this out of Indianapolis. My desire is to run a test on 3 samples in each cutting this year. I am hoping to use it to justify my prices but I am also using it to figure out how to make better Alfalfa. This is my third year for pure Alfalfa and it has a steep learning curve. However, it also has a good financial return if you can get a reliable harvest system. Appreciate any feedback if anyone knows a lot about these values. It will be interesting to see the progression of each of my cuttings this year. See image below.

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With the moisture and temp probe and if the hay was a little discolored he was checking for mold or dusty hay. Don't want performance horses getting bad lungs. There again going back to your other posts, you have to have dry hay for horses, tedded out and rotary raked so the bale's look good and consistent. Alot of times you can sell horse hay on looks alone.
 

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Long time ago I was delivering a semi load of horse hay, it was a little over an hour from our farm. I was suppose to be there at a certain time to unload. On the way there I got caught in an unexpected rain storm, it stopped by the time I got there. The barn manager called the owner and they decided we should unload the whole load and they would only take the dry bale's and I would have to take the rest back home. That sounded like alot of work to me, that I wasn't in the mood for, so I told them that I thought all the hay had got wet. I took the load home and it dried out and sold it at the next hay auction. Point is I wasn't going to sort a whole load of hay 1 bale at a time. When I load out big squares out of the barn I sometimes try to sort a little but unless one is really different it's all hay.
 

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Hay samples only give you some direction as to where to go with the hay. For performance I would think they want protein energy and digestibility as high im possible. If you have low energy hay you can sell it to those problem horses. For the performance horse they should supplement with grains and supplements to meet the horses needs anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I am going to try an application of Buffered Propionic Acid to help on the color since I can't change my hay rake this year. I do have a Pequa Fluffer tedder so I may be a bit more aggressive with it than in the past. My past policy was to ted the next morning while the dew was still on to keep leaf retention as much as possible. I have picked up some tips on this site for tedding that should help on the coloration.

One of my new concerns is that if I use the Acid, the hay will in fact show more moisture and so the hay probe will indicate the guy shouldn't buy any of my hay. I guess the use of acid is really the honor system when buying the bales freshly from the field? Bales that have sat awhile would smell bad and look bad, if split open. If the hay sits around on a wagon for a week, the temperature should escalate if it isn't treated and too moist so that would be a telling sign.

One of the problems with horse track people is that they have no storage for hay so they are constantly taking small amounts of hay to their horses, which is a pain for me and them. Not sure there is any way around it at this point.
 

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I do have a Pequa Fluffer tedder so I may be a bit more aggressive with it than in the past.
My experience is that fluffers don’t do much to help alfalfa dry down. The best thing is to get the swath spread wide/thin right out of the mower/conditioner. Conditioning is critical. Our system is to spread the swath as wide as possible out of the mower (swath is 1/2 the width of the mower). Leave it until the day it will be fit to bale. Rake in the morning after the dew is off. There will be some leaves flying during the raking process. Bale in the late afternoon or early evening when the crop moisture is at the low ebb for the day and starting to come back up. When to time baling depends on what the moisture is in the alfalfa, and whether or not the stems are completely dry, and also what kind of baling capacity you have. We do use buffered proprionic acid, it may or may not help you keep some color. It is a useful tool to bale hay that is not sufficiently dry yet but the weather is not conducive to allowing the crop to lay. Be aware that hay baled with elevated moisture and propionic acid still needs to lose that excess moisture. The bales must be stacked to allow drying. Color loss of alfalfa (and grass too) is almost entirely a factor of humidity levels while the hay is drying down. If there are overnight dews, the hay will fade no matter what you do. Hay dried under low humidity conditions, with no dew and brilliant sun will retain its color the best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My experience is that fluffers don’t do much to help alfalfa dry down. The best thing is to get the swath spread wide/thin right out of the mower/conditioner. Conditioning is critical. Our system is to spread the swath as wide as possible out of the mower (swath is 1/2 the width of the mower). Leave it until the day it will be fit to bale. Rake in the morning after the dew is off. There will be some leaves flying during the raking process. Bale in the late afternoon or early evening when the crop moisture is at the low ebb for the day and starting to come back up. When to time baling depends on what the moisture is in the alfalfa, and whether or not the stems are completely dry, and also what kind of baling capacity you have. We do use buffered proprionic acid, it may or may not help you keep some color. It is a useful tool to bale hay that is not sufficiently dry yet but the weather is not conducive to allowing the crop to lay. Be aware that hay baled with elevated moisture and propionic acid still needs to lose that excess moisture. The bales must be stacked to allow drying. Color loss of alfalfa (and grass too) is almost entirely a factor of humidity levels while the hay is drying down. If there are overnight dews, the hay will fade no matter what you do. Hay dried under low humidity conditions, with no dew and brilliant sun will retain its color the best.
I have a disc mower that doesn't crimp so stems contain moisture. It lays it wide because of no crimping. M cuttings have been very thick, even 2nd cutting due to a bunch of rain. I believe the bottom keeps picking up ground moisture. Even in the middle of the summer, I have had this problem. In years past, my lawn would turn brown in July. It hasn't happened for at least 3 years. I have to mow week after week. I think that's why I am getting brown on top and green underneath. This is happening before I ever put a rake to it so the rotary rake wouldn't help in this case. The excess moisture is making for heavy dew so I may be getting it from both ground moisture and dew. I have had to wait until the 3rd day on Alfalfa to even begin to think about baling and I once waited 5 days but it made good hay. This year may be different who knows. I have thought I should move the hay around with the tedderer two mornings in a row to move the top hay around so it won't get even browner. I know each time I am losing leaves though. I have been waiting until I see 3 days in a row with highs in the 80s before I consider cutting the alfalfa. I have done nighttime cutting due to off farm job so if that is hurting the situation, then I can't stop doing that.

The schedule you laid out wouldn't work well for me in the past. I can rake in the morning after dew and be done by 1PM, but I usually start baling by 2PM to finish by 5 or 6. However with the new 348 baler my capacity is much higher and I could delay it to maybe 4PM. I also wanted to try acid because I have had trouble getting in between the rains. This might allow me to start a day sooner in some cases. Maybe less brown by starting sooner.

I have not baled high moisture hay before so when you mean stack it so it can dry, I assume you mean lots of air space around the bales? On side instead of on strings? Or both?
 

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All I can say is welcome to horse hay.......never underestimate the unreasonableness of a buyer just be prepared for it and understand that the more unreasonable the higher the price to deal with it....
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
All I can say is welcome to horse hay.......never underestimate the unreasonableness of a buyer just be prepared for it and understand that the more unreasonable the higher the price to deal with it....
Totally agree. After just 1 year of selling horse hay, I already have a bunch of crazy stories. As you say though, they eventually run out of options and will pay your price. One of the real difficulties I have encountered is none of them have any storage. Some of them can't store but more than 10 bales at a time close to the horse. So, they put some in their garage, in their car, you name it. I am thinking about heading to the Amish markets this fall with a gooseneck load and see what I can generate. Another guy I know in Ohio says he sells about 5000 bales a year to them and they have storage and lots of cash. :)
 

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You really need a crimper/conditioner on your haybine for alfalfa. Acid will be a blessing and a curse, if horse people smell it they may not want the hay. It can extend baling windows maybe an hour earlier and hour later during a day depending on dew. I have seen dew stop you in 1 round around the field in the evening. Preservative may allow you to bale a little hay on marginal days. You will finally get sick of horse people coming evenings and weekends for hay, they will come in a blizzard because they need hay and expect you to have it for them.
 

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Never had experience with it myself but I've heard all kinds of stories of horses not liking treated hay.

I have no problem with horse owners. I pretty much only sell horse hay and my people almost couldn't care less what they get. It's ok to choose your customers.
 

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Never had experience with it myself but I've heard all kinds of stories of horses not liking treated hay.
I have no problem with horse owners. I pretty much only sell horse hay and my people almost couldn't care less what they get. It's ok to choose your customers.
Yes horses do not like propionic acid don't know if it's smell or taste, I've heard that buffeted kind is not as distasteful to horses and I also read about different types of drying agents that horses do not object to at all, can't remember the name/type, old age is a cruel master!:cry:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yes horses do not like propionic acid don't know if it's smell or taste, I've heard that buffeted kind is not as distasteful to horses and I also read about different types of drying agents that horses do not object to at all, can't remember the name/type, old age is a cruel master!:cry:
Thanks for that advice on horses. I guess I will do some with acid and see how my sheep like it. I do sell to sheep and goat people too. Horses are potentially pickier though. Again,the acid might be used to save a cutting due to impending rain more than a permanent strategy. I also don't want to use it anymore than necessary due to cost. I am going to try something different and see what happens. I purchased a moisture tester that gets installed into the bale chute so I can hopefully keep track of quick changes in the moisture. Could also be used to selectively turn on/off acid. I realize it is manual but the auto is out of budget right now.

There are some old standalone crimpers that I could try to purchase that are under $1,000. I am worried about them holding together since they are old but could be a way to help on drying on the first cutting without buying a discbine.
 

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Thanks for that advice on horses. I guess I will do some with acid and see how my sheep like it. I do sell to sheep and goat people too. Horses are potentially pickier though. Again,the acid might be used to save a cutting due to impending rain more than a permanent strategy. I also don't want to use it anymore than necessary due to cost. I am going to try something different and see what happens. I purchased a moisture tester that gets installed into the bale chute so I can hopefully keep track of quick changes in the moisture. Could also be used to selectively turn on/off acid. I realize it is manual but the auto is out of budget right now.

There are some old standalone crimpers that I could try to purchase that are under $1,000. I am worried about them holding together since they are old but could be a way to help on drying on the first cutting without buying a discbine.
Be careful with the acid as it is VERY corrosive on the baler, the other new varieties are not as corrosive I'm told.
Some posters on the forum will be better able to address this as they do use it, if memory serves ;) buffeted is not as bad, but I don't know how much better if at all.
 

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I have an old pull type crimper and even though we have rolls on our discbine I have on a few rare occasions used it as a second pass to help dry hay, I also have a fluffer type tedder. Those old crimpers aren't much to them, A set of rolls, a roller chain, a gear box, and a pto shaft. The one I have has intermeshing steel rolls, really cracks the hay. With the acid sometimes it is not a matter of the horse eating the hay it is the owner smelling the acid. We spray some on 3x3 big squares and our horses eat it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, I think I will search for a pull type crimper as an interim solution for this year. I would like to find one with intermeshing steel rollers versus rubber. I had rubber on haybine and they came apart. What model are you using? I might be able to find a decent one for around $1,000 if I am lucky.

I think I will ask current horse customers how they feel about acid application to hay to head off that problem before I treat a bunch, I can't sell. Thanks for the advice on that.
 

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Allis Chalmers had them.😉 John Deere, new idea should be others . I had to search but I think someone makes a new one yet. Our is a Cunningham, steel on steel. Recon is a company that makes new ones. If I was you I would get a neighbor or see if you can get a machine with rolls in a field while you cut and see the difference, I know it's not as easy to get things from a dealer sometimes unless you buy from them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Allis Chalmers had them.😉 John Deere, new idea should be others . I had to search but I think someone makes a new one yet. Our is a Cunningham, steel on steel. Recon is a company that makes new ones. If I was you I would get a neighbor or see if you can get a machine with rolls in a field while you cut and see the difference, I know it's not as easy to get things from a dealer sometimes unless you buy from them.
Yes, I have a soft spot for Allis stuff. A guy from WI can appreciate that. :) Looks like a bunch of these came up for auction over the winter for very little money. Of course, now that I want one, not much to pick from. I will keep my eyes out. I wouldn't do a new Recon otherwise, just get a discbine. I may get a neighbor to discbine at least one of my alfalfa fields just to get a comparison and help me out this year. I have about 30 days to get a plan together on this.
 

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Be careful with the acid as it is VERY corrosive on the baler, the other new varieties are not as corrosive I'm told.
Some posters on the forum will be better able to address this as they do use it, if memory serves ;) buffeted is not as bad, but I don't know how much better if at all.
Buffered propionic acid does not cause any significant amount of corrosion! We have a big square baler that has applied that stuff for more than 15 years and you wouldn’t guess it by looking at the baler. We never spend one extra minute cleaning the baler either. Blow it off just like we would if it didn’t have an applicator and get on to the next thing.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I had heard that the buffered stuff does not harm the equipment so thanks for that additional opinion. I wasn't worried about that issue. Still mulling over the acid.

I have also done some research on older discbines and it looks like there are some New Holland 411s floating around for $3,500-$4,500 and I think that might be a better approach this year. Once I prove the 348 baler is in good working order, I can sell the 24T use that money to buy a 411 discbine. I hate parting with the 24T as it has been such a good baler.

With diesel fuel so expensive this year, making another pass around the fields to condition hay could be costly. Most of these older conditioners are small in width too. Having said that, I would like to have one as another way to dry hay if really needed. I am going to watch the auctions. Almost all of them are from 1960s and mid 1970s. They stopped in the mid 70s making them so they have a lot of age and probably no parts.
 
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