A Guide to Hay Farming: How to Prepare for Moving, Lifting & Cutting Hay

Tractor carrying hay through a field
Tractor carrying a bale of hay in a field

If you know anything about hay farming, you know it’s a very important job. Hay is critical for feeding livestock, and therefore it’s important to have a lot of it!

However, hay farming is also a very difficult job. The average hay bale is around 4′ tall and over 500 lbs! You need to have the right tools and the right skills to farm hay successfully — and we have a few pointers, and attachments, that can make hay farming a little easier.

Preparing For Cutting Hay

Tractor with attachment on back

Hay is made from dried stems of grasses and other plants, so the first step in hay farming is to cut them. This may seem like a simple task, but you actually need to time it just right to make the rest of your hay farming process easier.

Hay requires at least three days of drying before it can be baled. Therefore, it’s important that you cut the grass at the right time to allow for enough drying. While no one can predict the weather, you can use forecasting software or other weather prediction models to find the perfect day to begin your hay farming process.

Preparing to Lift and Move Hay

Hay Bale Gripper

Once your hay has been cured and baled, it’s time for the most difficult task of all: moving your hay. Remember, these bales are very heavy; whether you’re moving your hay into storage or onto a truck, you’ll need the right tools and some careful skills to accomplish this job.

Most farmers opt for a couple tractor attachments to help them lift or move hay bales. Firstly, a hay bale gripper can help you move hay long distances. You simply grab the bale with your gripper and drive it across the field to your storage area — simple! However, if you’re going to life your bales (either onto a truck or into a higher storage area), you’ll probably want to invest in a bale spear.

Here are a few tips to help you use a bale spear effectively.

Spear the Bale

Tractor with hay bale spear

Your bale spear is likely going to be quite large — about 49″. Once you have it attached to your tractor, you’ll need to slowly and carefully use it to penetrate the bale. If you have a spear attachment with stabilizers, make sure you use them; they will be invaluable in helping you hold that bale steady as you lift it.

Tilt it Back

Here’s a little tip that might make all the difference for you when lifting your hay bales: once you have the tines or spear inserted into the bale, TILT IT UPWARDS. This will allow gravity to help you keep the bale on the spear, and give you a little more security when moving your hay.

Load It Up

Tractor loading hay bale on to a trailer being pulled by a truck.

Finally, it’s time to get your hay to its next resting place: either your storage area or your truck. To remove your bale from the spear, simply place it where it needs to be and drive your tractor backward. The spear should slide right out!

Now, if you’re loading your bales into a storage area like a barn, you can basically pack the room as full as you’d like. But if you’re loading your hay into a truck for transport, there are some rules you’ll need to keep in mind. Make sure your load never exceeds the maximum axle weight for your truck. Also, never let anyone ride in the trailer when it’s full of hay, and do your best to keep the area behind your trailer clear in case a bale comes dislodged.

With these tips (and the right tools), hay farming should be simpler for you and everyone else on your farm.

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