Saturday, August 21, 2010

hay for a hot day

This time of year many farmers are starting to store up hay for the winter months. We happen to use hay all year round. Because we don't really have pasture grass, we "dry lot", and feed them hay all of the time. This means not only do we store up hay for the winter, but we are always using and needing hay.

For hay, it would be ideal to be able to grow your own. This isn't an option for us. We haven't even been able to get pastures to grow, so having a hay field isn't an option. We live way back in the woods, in fact our land butts up to a National Forest. This is where we built our house, way before we had even thought of having alpacas. Under the woods, our soil is pure beach sand, which is not conducive to growing grass. Maybe in a different economy we could sell our house and buy a farm with great pastures and a hay field, but that isn't practical for us at this point. We also could haul in soil and make a pasture (or hay field) take root. But, that would mean keeping the alpacas off that land for a long time. It's not a good use of our land to make that happen. This doesn't mean we can't have alpacas and feed them well. We do. We just do it different than some other farms.

It always seems to happen that as we run low on hay, it's also a hot spell (or in the winter, a bad snowy spell which means J is driving in terrible weather with the truck and trailer). Friday was a very humid day, and pretty hot too (not the worse we've had this year, but hot enough). This was the day J went to get hay.

I came home to this:

I may do almost all of the poop scooping on the farm, but there is no way I could have hauled all that hay by myself. I am very thankful that J is able to. Zack told me that J told him he is looking forward to the day Zack can help haul hay. I'm sure! Zack is only 8 so we have a few years to go. I still have a tough time picking up a full bale. You'd think all that poop scooping would have built up my muscles better.

Like many things with alpacas, every farmer you talk to will give you a different perspective on hay. In general, alpacas prefer grass hay (not the old yellow stalks cows will eat, but green, grassy hay). As for which grass hay is best, that is where you will get a ton of different opinions.

This hay is mostly grass hay, with some alfalfa. Alfalfa can be great for putting on weight if you have skinny alpacas. A negative would be that it can put weight on already heavy alpacas. In high quantities, it can affect their fiber by raising their micron count. That we don't want! But this is less than 10% alfalfa, so it should work fine.

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