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The Country Enterprise Handbook
Analysing your assets|Land use|Vegetables|Soft fruit|Flower & herb growing|Orchard & vineyard|Woodlands Sheep|Beef|Pigs|Rabbits|Hens|Ducks|Geese|Dairying|Kitchen|Bees|Wool|Water|Home|Contact us

Land Use

..Permanent Pasture

...New Leys
>..Hay
...Silage
...Fertilisation of Grassland
...Farmyard Manure
...Cultivation
...Ploughs
...Tractor
...Make or Buy?
...Crop Rotation
...Why Rotate?

The first and main cut for hay and silage is taken between 20 May and 14 June; this is the finest quality grass and cuts taken later in the year are not usually so nutritious. In any case, hay must always be cut before the stalks become too thick and fibrous. You can feed your hay to your own stock or sell it.

If you live in a 'horsey' area, good hay will be at a premium. Small pets like guinea-pigs also consume hay and it is often worth bagging a few pounds of hay into polythene bags for sale to this market. The 'mark up' on hay sold this way is often staggering: a pet shop near us appears to be making something like 1,000 per cent profit on the little bags of hay! Clearly the guinea-pig owner does not want a whole bale, his pet would probably take over a year to eat it. If you can sell your bags Farm Gate you could afford to charge half the pet shop's charge and still make an inflated profit.

It is being said that the traditional oblong bale will become a thing of the past. The giant roller bales that are carried around on tractors mounted with fearsome spikes are apparently going to take over. That is all very well if you want to move your hay and straw only by machine. There are still a lot of instances, such as near horses and in awkward old buildings, where the tractor would be a nuisance. Still perhaps one day we will consider the oblong bale as much a speciality product as the pet bag.

One thing that would be avoided is all the itching you get from carrying a bale on your back as you stagger across the yard, frantically clutching a pail of water in your free hand. Such feats of strength are usually inspired by trying to dash through evening feed before going out on a Saturday evening. The main problem is that like that famous lager, dried thistles itch parts of you that other plants cannot reach! Silage is never clutched close to you while being carried about, its smell is far too lingering.

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