|Environmentally Sound Technologies for Women in Agriculture (IIRR, 1996, 213 p.)|
|Animal husbandry and dairying|
Handle with care
Be gentle when raking - moving dry fodder. Rough handling will shake off nutrition legume leaves.
Green fodder is especially scarce during the summer and early winter. Try preserving surplus green fodder as hay for these times of scarcity.
What is hay?
Hay is any forage crop cut before it is mature and dried for storage. It is more nutritious and palatable than straw because hay preserves the entire plant.
Crops suitable for hay
All fodder crops (including most grass species) can be used to make hay, but clovers and oats are especially suited.
How to make hay
Harvest berseem and lucerne just before flowering. They are most nutritious at this stage. Cereal fodder crops, such as oats and sorghum, should be harvested at flowering stage. Young sorghum plants before flowering stage can be poisonous to livestock.
- Use the last few cuttings of berseem, lucerne, and oats. (The first cuttings are best fed as fresh fodder.)
- Leave the material in the field to dry in the sun. Rake it frequently for uniform drying. In case the field is to be used immediately, move the material to a suitable place to dry. Try drying it on a fence.
- Overdrying will result in loss of nutrients, such as Vitamin A. On the other hand, underdrying will result in growth of fungus during storage. Ideally, the moisture content should be reduced to 15 percent. To tell if fodder is dry enough to make hay, rub the material between your hands. The material should not feel wet. Hay should retain its green color.
- After drying, the material should be collected and stored under shade in dry conditions.
Contributor: Dr. Jagadish Singh
Young sorghun plants can be poisonous to livestock.
Hay drying on a fence.