Hay There!

Hay Truck

Today we got a delivery of 44 large round bales of hay. That’s 52,800 pounds. It will more than last us through the rest of the winter months. Our herd has grown considerably since I had originally ordered hay back in June of 2007 so our hay needs increased. Hay is something we can’t produce well on our mountain slopes – they’re better for pasturing. I had had two other deliveries lined up for last month but they fell through. We have enough hay to squeak us through the end of March but it is a big relief to have more hay on hand. This means I don’t have to be stingy about putting out hay for the pigs and sheep.

These bales weigh 1,200 lbs which is 50% more than the 800 lb bales we used to get. Our John Deere 4700 tractor really notices the extra weight. These are up at the upper limit of what it can handle – especially when lifting them down from eight feet up in the air! Slowly I go, ever so slowly. Since we don’t have a bale grabber I use my chain and bucket trick to unload the hay, restack it and then deliver to the animals. Dealing with the double stacked bales on the high bed truck was a trick. Next summer I’m going to widen the road in front of the house so I can work more easily around the delivery trailer.

Unstrapping the Load

These bales are large enough that we can not easily roll them. A definite disadvantage of the bigger bales. I need to train Longson, Archimedes, Spot and Big’Un, our big boars, to help with the process. Instead, today Longson was pushing on the other side of the bale at one point as Holly and I tried to roll it. Lot of help he was not… If I can get them trained that would really impress Earl, the trucker, when he comes to deliver!

You’ll note that Earl put chains on the drive wheels of the tractor trailer. He said he never would have made it up the mountain otherwise. He’s dragging a heavy load rather than carrying it over the drive axles. That makes a big difference. He had another set of chains for the other drive wheels but didn’t have to use them this time. Good thing he decided not to come yesterday which was much worse weather. Today was well frozen up rather than greasy ice. Earl calls this his off-road rig.

Outdoors: 24°F/19°F Light snow all day on top of yesterday’s ice, Spots of Sun
Farm House: 52°F/39°F Hay stowed and out.
Tiny Cottage: 63°F/51°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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15 Responses to Hay There!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Walter, i really enjoy your blog and have learned alot from reading your interesting posts….

    I was wondering what a truckload of hay like that would cost, and what would be the approx equivalent in square bales…

    Best regards,


  2. Good question, $2,288 plus $475 trucking or about $105 per ton delivered. Price varies greatly. I’ve paid half that for other loads this year for the same size bales and I’ve paid two thirds that per ton for the smaller 800 lb bales. Hopefully it’s great hay and we’ll have happy pigs.

    Square bales vary in weight from about 40 to 60 lbs. Recently it seems the ones I’ve been getting have been on the lighter side of that. If you used 50 lbs as an average then that is about 1,056 square bales so each round bale is about 24 square bales.

  3. Walter,

    Do you have a forage analysis done on the wrapped bales? If so are you shooting for a certain protein percentage, or do you not worry because you are getting it from the whey.

    We have been giving our herd of 50 mostly unwrapped bales, but lately have been giving them some wrapped bales, which they seem to prefer and eat more of. It also smells better.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Whats your opinion on Alfalfa Hay and Corn as a pig feed?

  5. Alfalfa hay and pasture is excellent.

    Corn grain high in omega-6 so limit – good for putting on fat. Yellows the fat and tastes different.

    Corn silage might be great, might be high in the omega-3 and I’ve been told pigs like it but I have not explored it as I don’t have a source. On my to research list. If winter lasts long enough I’ll get through that list… Prepare for the next ice age. :)

    We grow a small amount of corn which I have the pigs harvest standing in the late fall. They also help plant it. I suspect the issue with high corn/soy diets is just that, too much of one thing.

    Since I can’t grow corn all that well I haven’t looked into it that deeply yet.

  6. That’s not a bad deal, especially for such nicely wrapped bales. What kind of hay is it?


  7. Colleen says:

    Woohoo! I knew that by writing a blog post about not being able to find any other farmers blogging, I would find some. And here you are in all your grass-fed glory. :)

    I’m enjoying reading about your hay arriving and look forward to exploring and learning from one farm to another.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Walter- I make GOOD hay. Our horse customers can’t get enough of it. It is primarily Timothy and orchard grass with some clover and vetch. We make square bales. However, our Berkshire/GOS crosses do not seem to like it for anything other than bedding. What is the secret for feeding hay to pigs? Thanks for any advice

  9. Brian says:

    What do you do with the plastic wrap? its about the same as the bags my wood pellets come in and noone will take them for recycling here in franklin county. Most of the farmers around here burn it and Im trying to get away from that.

  10. Realize I don’t know enough about hay so I’m only speaking from our experience. The reason I realized pigs eat hay is they were eating our sheep hay. The pigs definition of “good” hay may be different than horses’ definition of fine cooking so yours might be great horse hay but for some reason not what your pigs want.

    When buying hay I haven’t bought horse hay in particular because is generally much more expensive. I have bought rowen hay which the pigs like both in the square and the round bales. They seem to like it more when the bales are fermented a bit. Stalky hay, that is hay that is more straw like gets ignored – They like the leafier stuff. At some point I’ll have to do a taste test with them, that is I’ll do the ‘cooking’ and they can do the tasting.

    One last thought is in the warm months our pigs are out on pasture. When they get the hay their anxious to get some greenery. Our other primary feed is whey so they don’t have much for fiber or solids other than the hay in the winter. If you’re feeding grain then maybe the hay is not as appetitive.

  11. The plastic wrap is a sore spot for me. On the one hand having it on the bales means they ferment which seems like a good thing. But the wrap, both the outer white plastic film and the netting, are a pain to deal with when unwrapping the bales and to dispose of. So far it is to the dump, to the dump, to the dump. I don’t like that waste. I’ve experimented with using the white plastic wrap to cover things and the netting for pea fencing. It’s so-so. I’m still looking for a good solution.

  12. Beth says:

    love the pics… regarding the leftover plastic, maybe you could find someone to recycle them into the filler for archery targets. Packed tightly into a form, that shrink wrap makes an excellent stop for the swift arrows used by those of us who favor compound bows. It’s a long shot, but ya never know…

  13. Excellent idea on the archery targets! We do compound and long bow. Bullets would go right through but arrows would stick nicely. I could put the junk wrap inside the nicest wrap and then use another 1200 lb bale to compact each layer before tying it off. Perhaps a sheet of board in the back inside the wrap to keep the shape. Thanks for the idea!

  14. Sean Govan says:

    How do you, or your suppliers, know how much the round bales weigh? Do they get weighed? I came across an article recently about how you can lose a lot of money by buying a lot of bales that weigh less than they are supposed to because the hay isn’t compressed enough. The producer isn’t necessarily dishonest, but the bales don’t get weighed and the discrepancy adds up, so you have to buy more bales than anticipated. Have you had to deal with this problem? If so, what did you do?

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