It’s a strange time of year to be thinking about cutting and baling hay, but hay has been on my mind. More to the point, the number of hay bales left on the property has been on my mind since filling the hay cottage with its usually ten bales on Sunday January 1st.
This past summer, a friend and neighbour cut our hay for us instead of our local dairy farmer who used it for his livestock. Before this year, we had no need for hay so gave it away. Now we have two sheep, two goats and a miniature donkey to feed.
We also use hay for bedding, but very little is taken directly from the hay cottage to be used for this purpose. Instead, I use what’s dropped or spilt from the hay racks or hay net. When there’s a build-up in one stall, I move it to where it’s needed.
On the calendar, I keep track of when the hay cottage (a four by four house I initially built for my kids when they were preschool-aged) is filled. It holds ten bales which makes for easy calculations. The cottage was first filled with bales on October 6th. Before then it had been filled with loose hay left behind by the baler machine I had raked off the field. I had stuffed as much as I could possibly get in there and since hay was in low demand in September, it lasted for about six weeks.
Now that hay is in high demand, on average the animals consume/use about ten bales every two weeks. Below are the dates I filled the hay cottage:
Thursday October 6, 2011 – 10 bales
Thursday October 27, 2011 – 10 bales
Monday November 14, 2011 – 10 bales
Sunday November 27, 2011 – 10 bales
Thursday December 15, 2011 – 2 bales (raining)
Saturday December 17, 2011 – 10 bales
Sunday January 1, 2012 – 10 bales
The total number of bales used (and currently in the cottage) is 62. We started with 150 bales which means we have 88 bales remaining. If the average of ten bales every two weeks continues, we will run out of hay in about 18 weeks. That takes me to mid-May. By then hay will be in low demand and the animals will be on pasture most of the day. This means 150 bales of hay will feed five animals for about eight months.
To be self-sustaining, we need to produce about 260 bales (52 weeks x 5 bales) a year. However, our animals are on pasture most of the time between the middle of May until the end of October, so this number is probably closer to 220 bales. However, with the hope of adding one Toggenburg doe this summer, we’ll need a wee bit more than that.