Salting the Hay

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Laura, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    I live in an area where rain happens. There is a very small window of ideal dry conditions for putting up hay, if it isn't rain, then it's mist or dew. Even dry hay in the barn gets damp through our rainy winters. Since I've lived here, I 've wondered how these farms get by when their hay gets rained on or otherwise wet.

    I learn something new every day!

    We are buying our hay out of the field. The weather is cool, cloudy and misty. The hay is damp. Our 96 year old hay lady told us to sprinkle a handful of rock salt on each bale as we stack them, they won't spoil. She says they have always salted their hay no matter how dry or wet it is and did this back when the put up loose hay. all of the old farmers do this. She says in her memory, and she was born out there, they have never lost hay because of moisture. The condition of her farm and home, and those of the other old pioneer families, attest to the fact that they indeed never faced many losses on their farms.

    So we are salting the hay as we stack it. Any one else ever hear of salting the hay to keep it from moisture damage?
     
  2. Pigeon Lady

    Pigeon Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I never heard of it but thank you for posting about it!

    This year the man we buy from had to bale real quick before storms rolled in. The hay wasn't wet but could have used an extra day out in the field before baling. It's not moldy but some of it has that slight silvery "bloom" to it that rises up like dust. I'm afraid to feed it. We've had to discard a lot of it. Heart breaking because we thought we were stocked up for a good few months.

    pauline
     

  3. ksfarmer

    ksfarmer Retired farmer-rancher

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    We have salted hay before. If it was baled a little green or damp. The alfalfa will cure like tobacco instead of molding. It doesn't take a lot, just sprinkle each layer of bales.
     
  4. Pouncer

    Pouncer Well-Known Member

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    Well I have to say I have done this just once. Unfortunately, I put down too much salt.

    Everyone knows what happens to salt when it's left out, right?


    Funny how it draws moisture, isn't it? LOL, lost a lot of hay that fall! No one had said anything about a "handful", we just poured it on. Oops!
     
  5. bill not in oh

    bill not in oh Well-Known Member

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    Nothing wrong with making mistakes - they come from the innocence of ignorance (and we're all born with an infinite amount of ignorance). Live and learn...

    I have a new signature!!
     
  6. Michael W. Smith

    Michael W. Smith Well-Known Member

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    My Dad always has us put salt down when we are stacking the hay in the barn. Usually we stack hay in a certain area, and before we stack hay on top of the hay we just put down, we throw handfuls of salt here and there. He ALWAYS has us put salt down.

    The salt absorbs the moisture, and helps so the hay doesn't heat up if put away with too much moisture.
     
  7. Shepherd

    Shepherd Well-Known Member

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    How interesting! Well since we often use dry rice to absorb moisture, I wonder if any old timers ever used that.
     
  8. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Heard of it, never did it. I'd wonder about rusting the heck out of my hay storage area - nails in the floor, etc.

    A bit too wet bales, stack them on their edge. They keep a bit better.

    Be careful - too wet bales get into a heating cycle, the dampness drives microbes that create heat that spawn more microbes - the heat drives away the moisture, and the heat gets hot enough for the hay to start itself on fire.

    They make 2 types of preservatives to spray or shake onto hay as it's baled. Very common on the large square balers. One type is a microbe that sorta gets in the way of the other heating microbes so they don't cause problems. The other is a pickling juice, or sorta basically the salt you are using in a different form.

    --->Paul
     
  9. daytrader

    daytrader Well-Known Member

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    We used to use bagged 50 pound bags of calcium. We would put down a hand full on heach layer. When that was not available we would go to the IGA na dbuy a case of table salt and sprinkle that.

    Now we use the commercial spray that you use in a small 2 gallon tank and spray on.

    We ALWAYS treat our hay. We do not feed much hay but sell a heck of a lot of it.

    We bring in hay from all over. EVERY bit gets treated. We quit using salt about 2 years ago as we switched to the spray. I do ask when I buy stored hay if it has been salted. Many times it has been.

    Most of our hay comes out of the field and is in large commercial bales. These are most times treated at baling as the baler has a sprayer on it.

    The dairy men us these bales and want easy to use feed.
     
  10. ShawneeVt

    ShawneeVt Well-Known Member

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    An "old timer" shared this practice with me as well. She'd been putting up hay for over 80 years...I figured it was superstition more than anything but reading about it here, the science makes sense.
    Happy Haying everyone!
     
  11. palani

    palani Well-Known Member

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    Moldy hay is one consideration for putting salt on hay. Burning down the barn because of lofting wet hay is another. You might have lost the hay but I would be willing to bet the barn didn't go up in flames.

    Wrapped up quite a few round bales of wet hay myself. After it goes through a heating cycle a week or two later we come back and wrap the bales with plastic. If wrapped too wet the core of the bale will turn into hay loggy, black as pitch and smelling like molasses. Cows love it. They would eat the core out before anything else.
     
  12. sugarbush

    sugarbush Bees and Tree specialty

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    Nothing better than wrapping round bales.....we always mowed, baled and wrapped the same day, but finding something to do with all that plastic is a pain. I hadn't ever heard of salting bales......If your a dairy farmer I would not recomend it. Too much salt in the diet causes the cows to have more bulls than heifers.
     
  13. dave_p

    dave_p quocunque jeceris stabit

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    Just curious...what DO you do with the plastic? davep
     
  14. leecofarm

    leecofarm Well-Known Member

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    that salt thing is new to me...
    do the cows get thirstier than normal?
     
  15. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    How would I know? I've been buying salted hay out of these barns for 7 years. I did notice my horses don't go through salt blocks like horses did when I was a kid in a dry climate, but I thought it was because we don't have extreme heat here, either.
     
  16. sugarbush

    sugarbush Bees and Tree specialty

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    We always ended up stacking it up until we had enough to fill a roll of dumpster. Looked bad laying around for a couple of years and then it ends up in a landfill:(
     
  17. Filas are Prima

    Filas are Prima Well-Known Member

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    The folks who had their mare here to be bred brought her hay that had been salted in the row, then baled. Opening up each bale, there was some hot spots and mold to go along with the salt crystals. = not good horse hay.
     
  18. FreeRanger

    FreeRanger Well-Known Member

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    Livestock eating salted hay WILL go thru more water. More importantly you should adjust your mineral feed methods. For example if you are using mineral salt block as the deliever method. You may want to stop that method and use molasses with minerals. If the animals are getting salt in the hay, they will eat less of the mineral salt block.

    You can buy low cost fifty pound bags of salt for mixing with your loose minerals at any feed mill/store. Use that on your hay if needed. I wouldn't (don't) do it unless I felt it needed it. I find horse owners generally will NOT buy hay if they think it's been salted or sprayed. That maybe a regional thing. A lot of large round and large square bales are sprayed during baling in this area. That hay is mostly destine for bovine animals (cows & cattle).

    I prefer to set bales out on stem side down across pallets in only one layer. Make sure you put plastic tarps under the pallets to keep floor moisture from coming up. Takes a lot of room and pallets.

    Salt is not a cure all. Your hay can still get moldy or burn down the barn.
     
  19. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    Around here, the salted hay is preferred for horses. We feed hay through the winter and can't measure the horses' water usage as the rain keeps the troughs full. We use a mineral block with molasses and selenium.

    One year we bought hay from another grower that didn't salt and quite a bit of the hay had the silver dust, mildew and core rot "slugs." Boy, did that mildew dust make the horses cough! We had to give them cough syrup all winter and spread a lot of wasted hay, then spent the next growing season pulling thistles from the yard. Quite a few people feed the yuck hay to their cattle because they can supposedly digest it better. Their cows have a low calving rate and tend to drop dead for no apparent reason.


    Our hay options out here are salted hay, bad hay or driving 160 miles round trip for $9+ a bale imported hay.
     
  20. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    nope, but its pretty interesting