Department of Animal Science Florida Agricultural
Research Report No. AL-197.52 ,5.. Experiment Station
May 1975 Gainesville, Florida
HAYMAKING METHODS ON FLORIDA CATTLE RANCHES
James' Fr'Henit'es ,t Jr.1
Haymaking has become big business in Florida with the advent of newly de-
signed equipment that permits fast, automated cutting, drying, packaging, hauling
and feeding. Equipment for stacks and large bales (rolls) currently is gaining
in popularity on large farms and ranches.
The preferred method of haying differs from place to place for a number of
1. To most cattlemen, hay is nutritious cattle feed, but it can be
used for roughage by feedlot operators, bedding by some livestock
owners, packing by watermelon shippers and ditchbank stabilizer
by road contractors. All are saleable products.
2. Some make only one cutting on grass pastures before rains start
in June or after rains stop in October. Others make hay from a
number of forages throughout the year.
3. Some want to feed hay by hand-carrying small bales. Others want
to use vehicles to carry large bales, rolls or stacks.
4. Some have hay storage barns. Others store it in the field.
5. Some have plenty of laborers to load, haul and stack conventional
bales. Others want automated loading, transporting and stacking
Available equipment for haymaking can be described as follows:
1. Sickle-bar mower, power-take-off (PTO) operated, 7 to 9 foot
swath, speeds up to 8 mph. Rotary mower.
2. Conditioner with rollers or crimpers of rubber, fiber or steel.
3. Rake, side delivery, PTO or ground driven, trailing or mounted,
can be pulled in tandem.
4. Combination units: pull type mower-conditioner-windrower, 7 to
12 foot swath, tractor PTO operated. Self-propelled (up to
16 foot swath). Can leave a full-width swath for drying before
windrowing or a window for pickup baling. Infinite speed ranges
to meet land and crop conditions.
5. Fluffer to fluff windows to speed drying.
6. Balers, automatic pickup, twine or wire tie, PTO or engine driven,
pull-type or self-propelled.
a. Conventional rectangular bales, wire or twine tied, bales may
be dropped on ground or thrown in wagon pulled behind baler.
b. Large round bales or rolls, roll formed by system of belts
or chains and steel slats, roll untied or wrapped with plastic
1 Presented at 1975 Beef Cattle Short Course, University of Florida, Gainesville
32611 by Dr. J. F. Hentges, Jr., Professor of Animal Science with assistance
of Richard Cromwell and Dr. Larry Bagnall of the Agricultural Engineering
Department and the operators of Pine Acres Ranch.
or sisal twine, rolls vary in size from 5 to 7 feet in diameter,
4 to 7 feet in width and 750 pounds to over 2000 pounds in
7. Stackers, automatic tine or steel paddle pickup, pull-type, PTO
a. Compressed stacks, rectangular stack formed in hydraulically
operated compression chamber, vary in weight from 1 to 6 tons,
minimum tractor horsepower (HP) required varies from 40 to 80.
b. Round stacks, stack formed in rotating cage, 4 to 8 tons, 14
to 18 feet diameter x 12 feet high, 35 to 50 minimum HP.
c. Chopped hay stacks, rectangular shape, 3 to 10 tons, 60 to
80 minimum HP required.
8. Hay loaders and transporters
a. Conventional bales pitched from baler into pull-type, self-
b. Self-propelled or pull-type bale wagons that pick up conven-
tional bales in field, load, transport and stack.
c. Round bale carriers, mounted on rear (3-point hitch) or
front (hydraulic loader) of tractor or trailer-type with
hydraulically operated lift.
d. Stack movers:
1) stack retriever mounted on truck to pick up truckload
of conventional bales at one time, haul and unload as
2) small rectangular stack mover, tractor mounted fork lift
on rear (3-point hitch) or pull-type without 3-point hitch.
3) large rectangular stack mover, trailer with gooseneck or
straight tongue, powered loading chains so unit can be
backed under the stack as it is loaded. Feeding attach-
ments are available to slice off layers and convey to
Hay feeding equipment:
1. Racks, permanent or skid
2. Portable feeding panels to surround rolls or stacks
3. Electric fence adjacent to rows of rolls or stacks
4. Self-feeding wagon or trailer, sides can be portable panels
or hinged for loading
5. Round bale unrollers, rear-mounted on tractor
6. Stack slicer and conveyor-feeder
Published reports of comparisons of haymaking systems are few. Experiences
to date can be summarized as follows:
1. Custom baling may be the least expensive method if volume of haymaking
is low. Compare cost of owning versus contracting.
2. Owning haying equipment permits making hay when grass quality is
highest and weather conditions are best. Owning is preferred when high
quality, mold-free hay is needed.
3. The more hay baled each year, the lower the fixed cost per ton.
4. Cost of making conventional bales is higher than rolling or stacking
in large operations with hired labor.
5. In high-rainfall regions, round bales should be tightly formed and
wrapped several times with plastic twine. Sisal twine may rot in the
field and make transporting difficult at feeding time. Dense rolls
and stacks resist weathering much better in the field.
6. The larger the roll or stack, the smaller the percentage loss due to
weathering in the field.
7. Rolls or stacks have more spoilage when stored side by side in the
field. Allow space for moisture loss. Store in sun, not under trees.
8. If field storage loss of hay dry matter is 15%, it would require about
5 years of storing rolls in a barn to recover the initial barn con-
9. Allowing cattle free access to rolls or stacks without racks or panels
can result in wastage of 10 to 40%, depending on ground condition
(muddy, dry or frozen), and number of cows per roll or stack. Wastage
of less than 5% is expected when conventional bales are segmented and
slices are scattered.
10. Where drying time is limited, the application of organic acids to the
freshly-cut grass either as it goes into the window or baler may
improve storage quality without affecting cattle acceptance.
1. Anon. Big package haying systems. Doanes Agricultural Report 37(13-5):329.
2. Balas, M. A. and J. E. Baylor. 1975. Haymakers Handbook. Sperry-New Holland,
New Holland, Pennsylvania.
3. Bowers, W. and A. Rider. Hay handling and harvesting. Agricultural Engineering
page 12. (Aug. 1974).
4. Lechtenberg, V. L. et al. Storage and feeding of large hay packages for beef
cows. J. Anim. Sci. 39(6):1011. 1974
5. Stallings, J. L. et al. Comparison of baled and stacking systems for handling
and feeding hay. Auburn Univ. Agr. Exp. Sta. Progress Reports 1971-72, 1972-73,