Buying hay

Discussion in 'Pigs' started by Firefly, Jul 13, 2006.

  1. Firefly

    Firefly Well-Known Member

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    I know there is first and 2nd cut hay, and first cut has more grass and second more alfalfa. How do I tell the difference? :shrug: Also I stick my arm or a metal rod into the center and if it feels hot, that's bad. And that is the sum total of my knowledge!

    Should I buy a round bale of each, one for pig feed and the other for bedding for pigs and poultry? Or don't pigs need best quality 2nd cut? Didn't Highlands say his pigs prefer the old nasty stuff? Would an old bale from last year be alright for bedding? What's a fair price, which I suppose varies regionally--I'm in central New England. How long woudl a round bale last with two feeder pigs for a month or so, and then one gilt and her babies? I would imagine I'd get the best deal if I buy all I need at once. I need it delivered, too.

    I'll say one thing for bagged feed--it's easy!
     
  2. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if the cuttings matter all that much for pig hay. I'm particular about horse hay and more particular about cow hay than my neighbors but pig hay, I dunno :shrug: One round bale should last you all winter, methinks unless you need a lot of bedding. Are you gonna have them set out where they will go? I had round bales last year and needed a neighbor to set them out for me so I was at his mercy about placement and timing though he was really nice about it but you know how you would always do something differently if you were in charge? This year I'm going with square bales so I can manage it on my own. A good thing aboutsq. bales is that you can break it up into flakes and only use what you need and store the rest. Sq. bales here are between $1.75 and $2

    As for the hay, you do not want moldy or insect infested (even though OInky and her clan ate up last winter's hay that was on the ground and trodden through spring :rolleyes: ) it doesn't matter if it was last year's hay as long as it has been kept dry. Last year's dry kept hay is still good edible hay. Not all hay will have alfalfa and you probably don't need alfalfa for your pigs. Dunno what type of hay to recommend, I'd say cow hay with fescue and some clover. You'll pay less for fescue than you will for an alfalfa mixture.
     

  3. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm raking up what the goats scatter and throwing it into pigs and broilers(bedding)
    2nd cutting is usually better stuff (goats are fussy I usually take a little first cutting and then load the barn at second cutting...mixed grass timothy/clover...$3 out of field $4 from storage...price went up $1 a bale for fuel and fertilizer)
     
  4. Firefly

    Firefly Well-Known Member

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    Bales here were $6 a couple months ago! May be more now with fuel prices. I can probably get a round one for around $35, definitely the way to go if I can get it.

    First cut is available now adn I'd like to have some now, but I'm worried about it being wet. It rained here for weeks, seemed like, and the first dry day they were out cutting. I don't see how it can be good, but I don't know enough about it. Second cut will be done in a month or so but it just keeps on raining.
     
  5. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    I should think one round bale should meet your needs for bedding and a nesting bale later on. For these purposes, a year old bale should work- heck I'm still working on using up a pile of round bales I made in 2004. Even they have about 70% of the inner bale good for bedding&such. If you buy 1 year old round bales, just buy them discounted to compensate for exterior shell spoilage, or shrink it is called.
    In the winter when there is no green grass we will feed the good dairy Alfalfa to pigs for food purposes, but they still chew on rough hay occassionally as well.If you take delivery of a round bale, do not have it flat end up, or rains will rot it. Probably obvious, eh? Like Tango says, though, small square bales are handy. :)
     
  6. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Firefly, I can't advise you on the hay part of it because I don't feed hay to the pigs and types and prices available to you will be quite different to what is obtainable here. However, I too would prefer to use the square bales. Although they may be more expensive to buy than the round bales, they are easier to store, easier to handle and there is less wastage.

    Do you have access to straw? This is usually a cheaper and better way to go for bedding.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     
  7. Firefly

    Firefly Well-Known Member

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    So Mr President, you are saying one old and one 2nd cut? That sounds good. Is it hard to break off pieces of the round bales?

    Marcia I think I'll need more bedding because Sunshine will be in a 3-sided shelter and it can get to -20 at times. I will cover the roof and north side with bags of leaves, and with lots of bedding she should be happy--or as happy as she can be without Puerco! :(
     
  8. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    I would go with one round bale for bedding- reasonable priced. then I would get some small squares of "dairy Quality" hay for winter feed- provided you have a dry place to put them- a garage, shed, carport, etc.
    If sunshine has a round bale to burrow into, and a simple shelter, she will bury herselof in hay on cold winter nights. You will come out in am, no pig in sight. Rattle feed bucket- up they come out of the hay!!..cheers...How to deal with round bales- Go to Goat section and scroll back over past week-good thread ther that will, as the home boys in the hood say "BREAK IT DOWN FOR YOU" LOL :p ....El Presidente
     
  9. BD

    BD Active Member

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    hi, pigs will do really great on alfalfa. Its great for sows because of its high protein level . I got a big square of mix grass and alfalfa and they pick through it and eat the alfalfa first and whats left is bedding. According to iowa university study small farmers utilize pure alfalfa hay for market hogs and it has increased bacon quaility. i tried it and did not see any difference. I use KENT feeds exclusively and throw in hay like for desert. plus they got something to munch on and play with. bob
     
  10. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    So can I set out a whole round bale for my girls, cut the twine, and they will take care of the accomodations themselves? That would be a cheap and effective solution for our winter.

    Thanks for the study info. BD, learn something new everyday. I stopped feeding alfalfa hay due to waste, went to pellets. Wonder if on free range, they would need the extra calcium and and protein?
     
  11. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Yes, once strings are removed, sows will tear down round bale on their own!
    BTW Ronney is on the money that straw is even better than hay for bedding& nesting.--If it is available. We use older poorer hay as it is available&CHEAP.
    Many tons go to waste in our area every year.
    Alfalfa is best used for winter feed, when greens no longer available. A healthy way to put protien into an animal, and will produce a leaner hog.
    But Hogs are smart- they only EAT the high quality Premium stuff, Alfalfa, clover, Birdsfoot Trefoil(the Legumes). They sleep on the rest.
    The trick to feeding Alfalfa is to feed it sparingly- Like a good Broadway Performance- Allways leave them wanting "just a tesch more" :)
     
  12. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the info. Up North. I've noticed the pickiness as they forage. Yesterday, they opened my gate (dunno, don't ask me the chain is higher than they can reach :shrug: ) I caught the three of them inside my little front yard and snapped a few photos. Oinky was going for the tall very green native grass, like I go for cheeze pizza :p Squeaker and Grunt were opting for the roots of select weeds. Even in their own pen (which my Belgians saw fit to tear down to search for grains of corn last week :rolleyes: ) they show a preference for certain plants and won't till up my soil!!!! :grump:
     
  13. Up North

    Up North KS dairy farmers

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    Now if you were to replace those Belgians with Giraffe(shameless plug) they would merely airstrike that corn and exit gracefully, leaving said pens unscathed :p
     
  14. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Rest assured I am giving it consideration, but not to replace my beloved Belgians. If the Dairy Cow plans fall through, I may venture into the Giraffe Market, mini Giraffes :)
     
  15. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Supporter

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    Look at the stems. Look for clover (high in protein), alfalfa (also high in protein), etc. Our pigs don't mind 'weedy' hay that horses will reject so that keeps the cost down. I do prefer not to get hay that has a lot of brambles and such in it. Remember that if there are seeds in there you may get them where the hay and poop goes. I don't like straw or stalky hay as it has less food value. Okay as bedding. Google different plant species images if you aren't sure what things look like. I once saw a book about grasses, sort of a field guide, at a book store. That might be handy. Try Amazon.

    The book "The Family Cow" and the book "A Guide to Raising Beef" cattle both have lots of discussion of hay as probably do most books like that. Although they are about cattle, the basic concepts are the same and cattle hay is good quality, just below horse hay.

    That's a good start. Reach into the bale and pull out some. Does it crumble in your hands - bad. Is it green - good. Does it smell sweet - good. Is it weedy - a little bad. There's more. You'll gain experience over time.

    If you're just using it as bedding then dryness and dust free is most important. Dust and mold isn't good for the animals or you.

    If you feed it to the pigs then ideally it will be higher quality, green, sweet and high in protein - the pigs don't always agree with me on that though. We feed hay to our pigs in winter. There have been times when we didn't have dairy products and the hay was all the pigs got in the winter and pasture was all they got in the summer - they still thrived and grew and weaned big litters of big piglets - it just took about a month or so longer for a pig to finish to market weight. The meat was excellent. They do better if they have some additional source of calories and complemental proteins. Pasture/Hay plus dairy is ideal. We use whey (just started this year), cheese trim and excess milk.

    Some people will tell you pigs don't eat hay. They just haven't seen pigs eat hay. They get hung up on the fact that pigs don't have four stomachs and think that means they can't digest the hay. The truth is they can digest it although they are not as efficient as cows. We have 30 sows plus the growers, boars and finishers (about 60 to 100 pigs at any time) and they ate over 25,000 lbs of hay last winter in round bales plus about 400 square bales. A small part of that was worked into the ground but most of it they ate.

    Adding that fiber to their diet also makes their poops smell better - more like cow or sheep manure than the usual piggy poop on commercial feed that is like dog ----. The carbon in the hay binds excess nitrogen in their waste stream. This is good. The excess nitrogen is the source of the bad smells people associate with manure. When you smell it that means the ammonia, the nitrogen, is evaporating which you don't want as that is the valuable fertilizer.

    Funny story - I took two bales of hay out to the pigs one winter morning. As I opened them I realized that one of them was very nice, as I had intended, but the other was mushroomy (not dusty moldy) on the side away from me. But, the pigs wouldn't let me have it back. That was the bale they insisted on eating first. There isn't much arguing to do with ten 200 lb finisher pigs. It didn't seem to hurt them in the slightest. My guess is it tasted better - heck, I like mushrooms in my food too! :) Each to their own taste...

    Given the choice between fresh pasture and hay our pigs go for the pasture. But, even in the summer they might munch on some hay if they find it such as in their bedding. Perhaps they felt like having a snack and didn't want to get up. This suggests that the better hay we get in the wrapped round bales, that almost looks fresh, is probably best. They sure do love it and will go for the green hay out of a round bale over the dry hay in a small square bale. Perhaps moisture content is really the issue.

    Round bales are a lot cheaper around here per ton. One round bale feeds our 30 sows for about five days or so making life easier. Round bales heavy at 800 lbs but are easily moved with a tractor and can be rolled by a person, even a single person, on flat ground - something I don't have much of. Best is to get them placed where you want for the winter and then use electric fence to keep the pigs off the bales until you want to feed them. I place the bales in a long row and open up one end.

    Small square bales are easier to handle by one person. Square bales are also great for building winter housing and in the spring the houses can be fed, composted or mulched.

    I like having both the round and the square bales. Different times I need different things.

    Yes, just don't get overly dust or moldy hay.

    This varies greatly with the seller, time of year, location, how the hay crop was that year, quality of hay, etc. Last fall I bought 30 quality round bales (4x4 800 lb wrapped) for $30 each delivered. Other people were charging $40. One guy was charging $20 but it was unwrapped, didn't look so good and no delivery. On small square bales, normally I pay $2.50 delivered. This spring I bought 600 for $1 each delivered in May which were left over from last year. Spring is a good time to buy old hay. Hayers need to clean out their barns for the incoming new hay so they want to get rid of any excess from last year which people aren't going to want to buy. I am located in northern centeral Vermont. Other locations and times of the year will have other prices.

    Cheers,

    -Walter
    Sugar Mountain Farm
    in Vermont
     
  16. John Schneider

    John Schneider Well-Known Member

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    Firefly...I think everyone has mentioned everything you need to know. Just didn't want you to think I was ignoring you!!!LOL

    Around here a round bale of good 2nd cut alfalfa is about $30-$40. It was more than double that a few years ago with the drought we had. A small square bale is less economical, but costs a lot less somewhere around $1.75 per bale. If I were you with your small herd, I would go with the square bales and pick them up yourself? Do you have a small utility trailer? Can you borrow? etc. Even a good size trunk can handle a few bales! You will tell good quality alfalfa hay by looking at it and that is about it. It will have coarse stalks and many many leaves and flowers that easily pull loose. It should be quite green inside. Feeding a little at a time, a square bale should feed your pigs for a week. I wouldn't put out a round bale because they would waste it terribly. Even with a round bale feeder, it is exposed to the elements and degrades in nutrition as it is exposed to sun and rain etc. Get yourself straw for bedding, it is about half the cost of hay. I get round bales and then run them through the hammermill to store in the grainery for the winter. Then I simply scoop what I need into their ground grain and wet it with warm water to make green alfalfa porridge. You can feed them the dry hay in a small feeder free-choice. It may take them a while to figure out that its food, but when they get hungry enough...they will eat it and find that they like it.

    I have published an article in Small Farm Canada that is out in the Oct. issue. It is all about feeding alfalfa to pigs. I can scan a copy for you and shoot it to you via e-mail if you like or maybe post it on my blog- www.goldforestfarms.blogspot.com The magazine may not like that....somehow, I'll get it to you if you want.

    Cheers,