Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?  (Read 17829 times)

Fieldfare

  • Joined Feb 2011
cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« on: November 23, 2011, 08:57:26 pm »
Hi all- thinking about next season....don't laugh at me  :D ....but...is it feasible to make 'hay' by using a topper to cut the grass and then rake by tractor to ted/dry and once ready then move directly to a rick/pile in an open-fronted barn (I'm thinking 3 or 4 acres). OK- it doesn't sound very efficient so I won't get it all and would send a flock of sheep in to clear up the mess! I'm trying to work out a way how to get some hay and top a 'thistley' patch (they will eat it!) at the same time but do it without buying any more kit than a tractor and topper. Also I really want to 'have a go' myself rather than pay someone to do it  :farmer:

cheers

robert waddell

  • Guest
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2011, 09:41:37 pm »
the turbo mowers or drum mowers can be altered to different heights so you don't have to buy two machines they would be better than an old slasher
what you are describing is a mix of modern and old methods and it would work     well it did in the old days  the only stumbling block is getting the hay from the windrows to your barn :farmer:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2011, 09:47:43 pm »
OK- it doesn't sound very efficient so I won't get it all and would send a flock of sheep in to clear up the mess!

Well no, it doesn't sound efficient - but BH, who is a dedicated lifetime hay-maker, had thought the same thing (about using a topper to mow) himself, so it isn't mad.  In the end he bought a new mower - and we use it to top!  ::)  (But can only top the more level, less reshy, ground.)

He says you would probably need to use a flail topper rather than a blade type - the latter will splatter the stems and leaves to bits too much.  (To mulch, even!  :D)

I'm not sure where you are, but there's a community in Somerset make hay using scythes, hand rakes, pitchforks and a horse and I am sure others around doing similar.  I haven't made hay with them and I don't know if they go direct from windrows to hay loft or 'pike' the hay to dry some more before lifting and storing.

BH says that loose hay must have air flow from underneath.  If you are storing in a barn and not a loft (which draws air from underneath) you must have it lifted up from the ground in some way - and much more than just a layer of pallets.  The old mushroom stones (can't remember the proper term, sorry) used to sit under the ricks, giving a couple of feet of air space below.  I'm not sure how they built the ricks on top of the mushrooms.

If it suits you, who is to say it's wrong?  If you like the idea, give it a go - what's the worst that can happen?  (A: You need to buy some hay in for the winter. :)  B: you set your hay and barn on fire  :o :-[ :'()
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

robert waddell

  • Guest
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2011, 09:58:30 pm »
sally they are called strathel or straddle  stones      branches were cut and laid across them also long poles were used as well
in the islands it used to be quoils just small hay stacks  then into rucks good areas it just went to rucks   then into lets or straight to barn           at every stage it did heat a little      some of the best hay i have ever seen came out of rucks :farmer:

Fieldfare

  • Joined Feb 2011
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2011, 06:56:40 pm »
OK- thanks. The hay would be 'piled up' (ricked?) on the concrete ground floor of a barn (I guess I would need to create a tripod system with air intake below and just hope that this does it! BTW does anyone use a finger bar mower to 'top' or mow? I quite like the idea  :farmer:

cheers!

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2011, 10:17:05 pm »
The hay would be 'piled up' (ricked?) on the concrete ground floor of a barn (I guess I would need to create a tripod system with air intake below and just hope that this does it!

Concrete is death to any kind of hay - the hay sucks the moisture out of the 'crete and goes black where it's been in contact.  You always need something - usually pallets - between hay and concrete.  Loose hay will need significantly more airspace, yes.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Coley

  • Joined Apr 2011
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2011, 04:13:39 pm »

I tried haymaking with a topper but was pretty unsuccessful as the topper tended to mulch rather than mow, but its very  possible i was doing it wrong :)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2011, 01:20:27 am »
Coley was that a blade or flail topper?  (Solid metal or chains?)
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Castle Farm

  • Joined Nov 2008
  • Hereford/Powys Border. near Hay-on-Wye
    • castlefarmeggs
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2011, 12:15:16 pm »
A topper will cut it more than once while the grass is underneath the machine, besides stuggling with the amount of cut it has to make when grass is at hay height. Get in a couple of extra shear bolts just in case.

The result will be a very short crop, worth a go, but think it through b4 you do it. :farmer:
Traditional Utility Breed Hatching Eggs sent next day delivery. Pure bred Llyen Sheep.
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Odin

  • Joined Oct 2011
  • Huddersfield
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2011, 05:45:49 pm »
The idea of hay is that the stem of the grass is cut only once, the moisture is then stored within the stem. If the stem is cut elsewhere then it will 'bleed' the moisture out and create damp, not wanted.
The manual method is a scythe and I have my great grandfathers, there is a knack to using one and it is very physical work, but only cuts the stem once if you are using the scythe correctly. A topper is for mulching because it cuts the stem many times.
Regarding the finger bar mower, yes I have one that I am slowly restoring to use, maybe this summer? It is a Massey Ferguson model from the late 60's/early 70s' and cost 50 complete. It requires a belt and the new knives riviting to the blade. I can remember them in use around here when we still had diary farms. They were mounted on the arms or 'belly' of the smallest tractors like grey Fergys or David Brown 770. The down side of them is they need regular sharpening and maintenance, that is why at the moment they are cheap to buy. (Before they become desirable by collectors). Neither do they take up much room when in storage.
Drum mowers are better but require larger tractors, take up more storage and a good one will be at least 500.
Once you have cut it, then it needs 'tedding'. Another subject coz I'm off to see Livewire AC/DC now.
Regards.  :thumbsup:
A man who cannot till the soil cannot till his own soul !
A son of the soil .

robert waddell

  • Guest
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2011, 06:46:22 pm »
odin you have the wrong idea about  hay  the stem has to dry or you end up with mouldy hay any moisture will create mould          international harvester used to make conditioners to bruise the stem to allow quicker drying you can also get modern mowers with conditioners fitted
finger bar mowers are not popular  because of the sharpening issue  bussatis made one with double knifes to clear the soft fug that chocked the fingers up international also made one with domed serrated knife sections it did work but by the time it was produced turbo mowers were king
hay from a dedicated hay field is different from hay salvaged from toppings in a grazing field
as to tractor size a 135 or ford 3000  is more capable of working a turbo mower i used to cut silage with a 3000 and a double chop dragging a 4 ton trailer
times have moved on since your grandfathers scythe  thankfully :farmer:

Odin

  • Joined Oct 2011
  • Huddersfield
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2012, 07:24:11 pm »
Right , got back from the AC/DC Livewire concert, my ears are still ringing but after a couple of days in the field, back down to earth ! Now did somebody say something ? Where were we ? Are yes, "who has a finger bar mower and tedding"?
Could be a very long subject this, lots of things to cover like the type of grass, the optimum time to mow it, type of equipment and of course the SUN to DRY the freshly mown hay.
In the olden days (when I was a lad) and scythes were in use, teams of men across a pasture with scythes would work in an extended line cutting the grass. Baring in mind that every cut was a physical action now a mechanical action. Behind them followed the women and children who would delicately rake, or tedd the fresh mown hay with wooden dowel pronged rakes to spread the 'cut', to dry in the sun. The idea of not damaging the stalks or leaves is to prevent rot taking place.
Coming forward to mechanisation, tedders like acrobats were used to spread the cut out to dry and then to row up for the bailer. I have a Bamford Wuffler that cost 50 but the corrosion in the frame is too bad. Differing opinions with Wufflers, some say they were too harsh and could damage the fresh mown hay causing the rot when stored.
At the end of the day, it all costs money. How much do you want to throw at it ? My costs on hay making tackle are :-
Finger bar mower including knives & belt 90. Wuffler 50 (scrap value 80/90). International Hay bailer, swopped for a Land Rover diesel engine, watched an identical one in an auction make 750. Plus tractor and trailer.
Preferred equipment;- Drum mower 500< ? Haybob 500<?
Anybody know of an Iron Maiden concert, think I will take my Gt Grandfathers' scythe ?  8)
A man who cannot till the soil cannot till his own soul !
A son of the soil .

robert waddell

  • Guest
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2012, 08:00:07 pm »
aye odin the scyth will suit you (old man time) i am 58 and never seen lines of scythers cutting either hay or cereals  and this is backward scotland not the mechanised england that you hail from
when you were a lad that must have been in the 1920 then        back in these days the crops were not as heavy as they are now and did not need the same working  dementia has not yet set in with me    you forgot the pitchfork the hay sweep and the rake mechanical one at that :farmer:

Fieldfare

  • Joined Feb 2011
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2012, 09:01:55 pm »
Hi- thanks for the info/ideas. I do actually have a scythe which does a great job as a selective topper. Maybe what I need is a few more scythes and a few more people on occasion...now to rope in some 'townie volunteers'  ;D
« Last Edit: January 02, 2012, 09:03:27 pm by Fieldfare »

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: cutting for 'hay' with a topper?
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2012, 11:47:38 pm »
Maybe what I need is a few more scythes and a few more people on occasion...now to rope in some 'townie volunteers'  ;D
and/or WWOOFers?
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

 

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