Hay: first or second cutting? - Homesteading Today
Homesteading Today

Go Back   Homesteading Today > General Homesteading Forums > Homesteading Questions


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Rate Thread
  #1  
Old 06/04/08, 08:32 AM
BethW's Avatar
My kids have hooves
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Central Virginia
Posts: 2,214
Hay: first or second cutting?

I have the option of first or second cutting orchardgrass hay. Given all other things being equal, which is better? And why?

__________________

Beth ~ Old Church, VA
3 Nigerian Dwarf goats, 3 cats, 1 Chinese goose, 3 Pekin ducks and 9 chickens. One very patient husband~

Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 06/04/08, 08:33 AM
Skykomish's Avatar  
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Fort Collins CO
Posts: 541

I think 2nd would be better because the first sometimes has a lot of weeds in it. But don't quote me on that.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 06/04/08, 09:04 AM
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 3,192

To me, it doesn't much matter. Come January the critters will like either just fine. The fisrt MIGHT have more weeds - depends on the weeds. Most of the wild flowers and "flowering weeds will be in the first. Ragweed and others will be in later cuttings.

The first cutting won't be as stemmy and coarse.

Around here, "goat hay" is the later cuttings but, like I said, it all tastes good in January.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 06/04/08, 09:25 AM
sheepish's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Ontario
Posts: 1,714

What animals are you feeding? Is it straight orchardgass, or is there legume in it as well?

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 06/04/08, 09:41 AM
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: New York
Posts: 1,251

Our experience, get it when you can. First cut, never rained on is good if it has not gone to seed. Weather, sickness....may not get a second cutting.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 06/04/08, 09:55 AM
BethW's Avatar
My kids have hooves
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Central Virginia
Posts: 2,214

I'm feeding goats. DH says get it while you can, but several folks around here seem to prefer second cuttings.

I wish there was some sort of "introduction to hay" on the internet. There seems to be so many variables and opinions. The hay I used last year was rated "too good for goats" by one person, "very mediocre" by my vet, and "not bad" by a nearby goat person. Argh!

Forgot to add the hay I'm looking at is 75/25 orchardgrass/timothy.

__________________

Beth ~ Old Church, VA
3 Nigerian Dwarf goats, 3 cats, 1 Chinese goose, 3 Pekin ducks and 9 chickens. One very patient husband~

Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 06/04/08, 10:05 AM
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 325

Out here, the second and third cuttings are more desirable, as the protien level increases with each cutting. Third cutting is considered dairy quality as well as the second. Can be too rich for some livestock, though.
We have thirty acres in alfalfa/orchard grass and the first cutting is typically more stemmy and has a few more weeds, but we get twice the volume as the second cutting. We feed all three cuttings to our livestock, and we save the second and third cuttings for the middle of winter when they all need that extra protein to help them stay warm.

__________________

Joy at Secretplace Farm

Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 06/04/08, 11:01 AM
Banned
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: tn
Posts: 4,910

goats can eat first cutting just fine. i think they prefer it to all-grass hay.

fist cutting has weeds in it before they bloom (preferably.) second cutting is all grass because the weeds were cut down the first time. often first cutting can be had cheaper than later cuttings.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 06/04/08, 11:06 AM
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: MN
Posts: 7,099

Up here hay is just hay. In some regions first cutting is sold a little cheaper, as it is more likely to have weeds in it, and with spring rains it tends to be a little wetter, or a little too ripe because cutting had to be delayed for the rains....

2nd or 3rd cutting has less chance of these issues on a normal year, but.... Weather can make anything a compimise on hay.

--->Paul

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 06/04/08, 01:36 PM
mem mem is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Just South of Dallas
Posts: 123

Generally, second and third cutting hay has more nutritional value. This is usually because it is cut at an earlier stage of maturity. First cutting generally gives higher yields.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 06/04/08, 04:00 PM
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,827

I always assumed that first cutting would be better as my thought process told me that the nutrients were there for the first cutting, and with each additional cutting there were less and less nutrients available for the plant.
Sounds rational, right?

But, I guess I"m wrong. My understanding is that the first cutting is the "fast growth" (you know how fast your lawn grows first thing in the Spring?) and with it growing so fast, it doesn't have as many nutrients as the slower growing second and third cutting.

I've heard sometimes that first cutting hay is cheaper, but that doesn't necessarily hold true either. (It all depends on what kind of growing year you have. First cut hay would sell for a premium price if a drought started right after it was taken off the field and stunted the 2nd crop from growing!!!) For goats, I would think first cutting hay would be better as goats usually like browse - and with more weeds in the first cut hay, there are more different plants in it.

I really don't think it matters. Get it while you can - preferably hay that has not been rained on. Many times, farmers will cut the price quite a bit if you pick it up while the hay bales are still in the field. (Saves them from loading it onto a wagon and taking it to the barn and unloading and stacking it.) However, if your schedule doesn't permit a "drop everything" because the hay bales are sitting in the field" then that won't work.

Waiting on a 2nd cutting or 3rd cutting can be risky. If the weather doesn't cooperate and give enough moisture, chances are they will only get a 2nd cutting and there won't be a 3rd. First cutting hay is always more plentiful - you get more bales per acre than the slower growing 2nd or 3rd.

Hope this helps.

__________________

Michael W. Smith in North-West Pennsylvania

"Everything happens for a reason."

Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 06/05/08, 08:29 AM
minnikin1's Avatar
Shepherd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Central NY
Posts: 1,658

Why don't you get some of both and see what your goats prefer?

High nutritional levels may not matter if they don't like it and waste it all over the floor.

__________________
Hut on the Hill Farm
http://www.hutonthehill.org
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 06/05/08, 09:16 AM
mtman's Avatar  
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: AR
Posts: 2,250
Quote:
Originally Posted by farmmaid View Post
Our experience, get it when you can. First cut, never rained on is good if it has not gone to seed. Weather, sickness....may not get a second cutting.
seed is good has a lot of protien
__________________

Don't complain, just do it

Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 06/05/08, 09:18 AM
mtman's Avatar  
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: AR
Posts: 2,250
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael W. Smith View Post
I always assumed that first cutting would be better as my thought process told me that the nutrients were there for the first cutting, and with each additional cutting there were less and less nutrients available for the plant.
Sounds rational, right?

But, I guess I"m wrong. My understanding is that the first cutting is the "fast growth" (you know how fast your lawn grows first thing in the Spring?) and with it growing so fast, it doesn't have as many nutrients as the slower growing second and third cutting.

I've heard sometimes that first cutting hay is cheaper, but that doesn't necessarily hold true either. (It all depends on what kind of growing year you have. First cut hay would sell for a premium price if a drought started right after it was taken off the field and stunted the 2nd crop from growing!!!) For goats, I would think first cutting hay would be better as goats usually like browse - and with more weeds in the first cut hay, there are more different plants in it.

I really don't think it matters. Get it while you can - preferably hay that has not been rained on. Many times, farmers will cut the price quite a bit if you pick it up while the hay bales are still in the field. (Saves them from loading it onto a wagon and taking it to the barn and unloading and stacking it.) However, if your schedule doesn't permit a "drop everything" because the hay bales are sitting in the field" then that won't work.

Waiting on a 2nd cutting or 3rd cutting can be risky. If the weather doesn't cooperate and give enough moisture, chances are they will only get a 2nd cutting and there won't be a 3rd. First cutting hay is always more plentiful - you get more bales per acre than the slower growing 2nd or 3rd.

Hope this helps.
if you fertilize after every cut all cuts has the nutrients
__________________

Don't complain, just do it

Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 06/05/08, 09:30 AM
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: iowa
Posts: 2,486

In northern iowa the second cutting is preferred for several reasons.All cuttings should be good if it was put up dry with no rain.Rain or baling wet are usually what ruins hay.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 06/05/08, 09:47 AM
WindowOrMirror's Avatar
..where do YOU look?
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: northcentral WI
Posts: 3,907

It is generally the case that later cuttings are better for the reasons that Joy mentioned. If this is grass hay only and won't be used for protein anyhow, then get what you like... but goats need a bit of protein, and I'd select the later cutting myself.

R

__________________
When faced with issues in life, where do you look for the problem; out the window, or in the mirror?
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 06/05/08, 10:44 AM
sidepasser's Avatar  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: GA & Ala
Posts: 5,873

I am buying what I can get..first cutting because the drought conditions here may prevent a later cutting. Last year there was no third cutting and the second cutting was delayed until August..and was not as nice as the first cutting. So I am off tomorrow to go pick up 125 bales out of the field (thank goodness for automatic loaders!) so all I have to do is unload and stack. I generally prefer a second cutting, but having learned over the years, I split my purchases between first, second and third..I buy 500 bales a year on average so the hayman stores my hay nice and dry and I will pick up from the barn on later cuttings if I can't get there to get it out of the field. A hay analysis would be useful if your hayman provides one, I get one and it is very helpful to me to know what the content is. (protein level, etc.). My hayman provides the analysis after each cutting so I know how much feed I need to use, etc. Saves me money overall and is a nice customer service touch.

__________________

Be yourself - no one can tell you that you're doing it wrong!

Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 06/05/08, 11:31 AM
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Michigan's thumb
Posts: 13,696

It depends on when they cut the first cutting. If they wait until it's stemmy, it's not better than second, and second may be better. If the first cut is at that nice peak of fresh growth, before it is stemmy, it's a great cutting.

__________________
Reply With Quote
Reply



Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:46 AM.