Lawn clippings as hay?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Haven, May 10, 2011.

  1. Haven

    Haven I agree with Pancho Supporter

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    Anyone do this for animal feed? We were thinking of buying a small push mower with a bag on the back of it to collect clippings for hay to feed the rabbits over the winter, and to use as bedding. If this is possible, would we be better off not using a bagger and just raking up the clippings once they dry?

    We have a few acres of hay field that a neighbor collects hay on and raking up the remnants is a possibility, but the field is out a bit from the house. Would be nice to collect the grass clippings closer to the house each time we mow if possible. We were thinking of partitioning off a section of our small barn to toss it into.
     
  2. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm This Space For Rent Supporter

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    If you use a bagger, the grass won't dry and you run the risk of mold.

    Most mowers will chop it far too fine to make good hay

    You'd be better off to compost the clippings and buy a few bales of good quality hay
     

  3. MullersLaneFarm

    MullersLaneFarm Well-Known Member

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    Agree with BearFoot. Unless you feed the grass clippings fresh, you are risking mold.

    Unless you are thinking of letting the grass grow to 12" or more, than cutting, drying, raking and baling the grass.
     
  4. Haven

    Haven I agree with Pancho Supporter

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    I was definitely thinking of drying it first.

    Dh went overboard with the tiller this year making the garden way too big, so I was also thinking of planting timothy or something on half of the area he tilled up.
     
  5. jwal10

    jwal10 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I use a walk behind sickle mower to make hay and a wood peg hay rake. Then move it to the barn with a big garden cart and walk it into a stall. I feed it to rabbits, chickens and 3 goats. Some for bedding....James
     
  6. City Bound

    City Bound Male Supporter

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    My nieghbor said he use to feed his fresh grass clippings to his rabbits and they loved it.

    Well, you can look at it this way: you can feed the rabbits the fresh clipping from spring to early fall and get free fresh healthy feed, and then you can buy some good hay for the winter to keep them until the grass comes back. It would save you money.

    Another option is to use the clippings and then take that extra plot you mentioned and grow timothy, let the timothy grow tall then cut it down with a manual weed wacker or a sythe. You could dry and store the timothy for the winter and not have buy any hay for the winter. This would save even more money.

    I would spread the grass clipping out so they dont mold quickly. Do an experiement and see how long they will keep. if they only last three days or so, I would seperate three days worth of feed from the clippings pile and then dry out the remainder for bedding. Waste not, want not.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2011
  7. sammyd

    sammyd Well-Known Member

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    put the stuff in trash bags then vacuum the air out and let sit for a few weeks.
    You should have some fine haylage.
     
  8. ||Downhome||

    ||Downhome|| Born in the wrong Century

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    I did, let the grass get about 8" and put the deck on the lowest point.
    mow one way then the other blowing the two stretch's into one row.

    let it sit for a day in the sun then rake the two rows together by flipping the wet under side up. continue flipping and combining rows (as long as the pile is easily managed)

    once its good and dry rake into stacks and start putting it up. dont get two far ahead of yourself the rows will still need flipping as they will absorb a bit of moisture from the ground.

    I did more or less 3 acres like this. a sickle bar would of been ideal but the dixon 0 turn did the job and any mower with a shoot should also. to rake it I used a big wide aluminum concrete rake.
     
  9. JHinCA

    JHinCA Well-Known Member

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    In our experience, dry lawn clippings are excellent for brooding baby chicks and for filling nest boxes. Pigs like fresh lawn clippings.
     
  10. City Bound

    City Bound Male Supporter

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    JH, the pig like to eat the clippings?
     
  11. Danaus29

    Danaus29 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I dried bagged grass clipping for my ducks. As long as they are dried they work just fine as hay for poultry. Not sure about using them for large livestock.

    I'll be trying buckwheat hay for my rabbits this year if the ground ever gets dry enough for me to till the plot again.
     
  12. Haven

    Haven I agree with Pancho Supporter

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    Our garden is right near the small barn, so i'm going to try to get dh to make a simple drying rack with hardware cloth wire on 4 legs near the barn door.

    Now if I can just get all the mice out of the barn...
     
  13. SquashNut

    SquashNut Well-Known Member

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    I planted rye for fresh cut use for the rabbits. That way if I want to use the area for garden again it won't be hard to get rid of, like timothy grass would be. I will buy their winter hay.
     
  14. City Bound

    City Bound Male Supporter

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    A roof made out of that corrogated clear plastic might help keep the rain off the racks.
     
  15. SquashNut

    SquashNut Well-Known Member

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    Instead of a push mower, you might try a gas weed eater.
    I use an electric one to clip my back yard, and then feed that to my rabbits.
    Have you consitered using a rabbit tractor?
     
  16. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There is some concern about a diet of only short fresh lawn clippings for big livestock - it might pack up in them. As a part of their diet, works great.

    In my climate, it would be very difficult to dry lawn clippings doen dry enough for hay. Can see it working fine, just don't think I could get it dry 'here' reliably. It needs to be really dry. Butwould be good grass hay if you can dry it.

    Most weed herbicides aren't too big of a problem with a week or so of restrictions, but if you wish to collect from neighbors or some such, something to think about......

    --->Paul
     
  17. RedTartan

    RedTartan Icelandic Sheep Supporter

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    I use my grass clippings as mulch in the garden and when I have enough for that, I dump the rest to the chickens. They love it. It looks great in the garden too.
     
  18. kjmatson

    kjmatson Well-Known Member

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    Yes and in fact I cut more lastnight. I don't have a sicklebar mower yet, so I use my overkill husqvarna weed wacker, it cuts it at length instead of clipping it little pieces. I also do this and fill the garden with the grass inbetween rows.I have a lot of clover, grass and dandelion in our yard, just about an acre. For 3 years now I have let it get to about 6 inches and cut it all down in rows, let it dry, rake it up and stuff it in burlap feed bags. After the grass stops growing so fast I just use the tractor and mow it.

    I use it to feed rabbits and chickens in the winter.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2011
  19. Haven

    Haven I agree with Pancho Supporter

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    Do you have issues with the dandelion heads not drying out completely?

    Squashnut, I do plan on making a portable tractor for pasturing them a bit. Also, I do have a gas powered string brush mower on 3 wheels.
     
  20. postroad

    postroad Well-Known Member

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    I divide the lawn into sections and mow one section each day of the week. This gives enough fresh grass clippings for the hens. Only mow about ten minutes each day because most of the yard is in gardens.