Archive for Downsizer For an ethical approach to consumption
 


       Downsizer Forum Index -> Livestock and Pets
Mutton

Square bale hay price question

We are thinking of not cutting our hayfield this year and keeping it for grazing (it hasn't done all that well for various reasons).

Haven't ever bought bales of hay. We would be looking for the square (technically oblong) bales of fragrant enough quality for sheep. Any suggestions on how much we might be paying?
Does it vary with region?

(Would prefer not to say where we are, like to be a bit anonymous on the net.)

Also haylage - has anyone fed this to sheep? Do they eat it?

Our farm supplier sells bags of haylage of a size we could lift but never tried haylage on our lot (who can be a bit fussy about the flavour being right - they reject a few of our home grown bales).
Tavascarow

Haylage tends to be a lot dearer than hay. Sheep will eat haylage & silage but once a bale is opened it will need using promptly. If it goes mouldy it can cause problems for sheep.
Locally good clean hay sells for about 4.00 a bale but off the field & a little lower quality (some weed stems) half that.
Mutton

Thanks - our own hay has weed stems, which they eat - they are primitive sheep so are browsers.

What do you mean by "off the field"? Not heard that term before.
NorthernMonkeyGirl

"Off the field" means you have to go and collect it, I think?
Mutton

Pick it up from literally off the field (before it gets rained on)?
Or from the farm's barn?
NorthernMonkeyGirl

Now you're asking! Guess it depends how close the field is to the farm/barn?
Tavascarow

As it says on the tin, off the field usually means as it comes out the back of the bailer.
The 4.00 a bale has to be collected as well from the farm but they make 40 acres of hay every year, & supply local feed merchants etc so know what they are doing. They are very popular with the horse owners.
If your sheep are happy with stemmy hay & you just want something to fill their guts & not fatten them then buy the cheapest IMHO as long as there's no ragwort in it.
Nick

4 a bale here, too.
Ty Gwyn

Don`t be shy to say where you live Mutton,as area does make a big difference sometimes,a few year`s back there were lorry loads of small bale hay going from West Wales down to Bucks,it was fetching 7.50 a bale,
Usually loads of hay travel into Wales.

Avoid silage for sheep,as any dirt/earth in the bales can cause Listerosis/Abortion.
Mutton

Thanks everyone. Gives me some ideas for what to look for, shopping time I think.

Didn't know that about silage.
Nick

Small bales is always going to be the most expensive way to buy bulk food, I'd guess.

I had round bales for the cattle this year, but they did very well on fodder beet, which was cheap as chips. 25 a ton, delivered. Might be an option?
leggy

Seen small bales for 2.50 around monmouth.
Mutton

Is fodder beet different from the pelletised sugar beet that comes in 25kg sacks?

We had no hay last winter and the sheep did fine on a mix of sugar beet pellets and sheep nuts, about 3:1 - but it wasn't cheap.

We have no tractor or large handling equipment so round bales are out for us. Our rat proof storage is one large chest freezer in an outbuilding, or in the house - we had lots of sacks of sugar beet stacked in the hall last year and had to go shopping every two weeks......
Nick

https://www.cotswoldseeds.com/updates/what-fodder-beet-excellent-winter-feed-crop

Comes as big turnip like things, from 4 to 12/15 inches across. I just gave it whole to the cattle and they knawed on it all day, and did well. (With hay as well). Local guys give it to the sheep, too.
gregotyn

Fodder beet is an excellent feed for sheep, but particularly for milking ewes as they are 95% or so water, but what water! and is a good way of getting nutrients and water into a ewe who is feeding lambs. fodder beet is subject to getting frosted and should be stored frost free. I have friends who feed sugar beet to fattening sheep in the winter, either way you just dole 'em out and they eat them, in conjunction with hay. I wouldn't recommend haylage as it is generally so expensive, basically horse feed. If you had been in my area you could have had my hay for the making as I give the stuff away!
Nick

Any idea if they're useful for pigs?
Rob R

Yep, pigs love 'em, and guinea pigs, too.
Nick

The fodder beet I'm being supplied with is so big, a Guinea pig could use it as a house.
Rob R

Yeah, they do eat it from the inside out.
Mutton

Rob - the mind boggles - got any pictures?

In terms of storage I guess it has to be rat free as well as frost free?
gregotyn

Everywhere should be rat free!, but I would think that the rats would have a go at the beet, if there were little else available, they would soil and therefore spoil the heap given a chance.
In terms of digestability I would suggest that there are more suitable feeds for pigs rather than fodder beet, barley for example is quite cheap this year-at 120/ton and is more suited to the simple stomach of the pig and with a much higher concentration of digestible nutrients. Not sure about the price of wheat which can also be fed to pigs, but in conjunction with other cereals-barley being the main one.
Talking to a friend about big hay bales, Mutton, he has all the big tackle needed for making big bales, but he still unwraps the hay to put it in the racks because they don't waste so much that way. I had a special hay feeder when dealing with sheep. Basically a box the size of a small bale and frame above, with a set of six openings-3 each side and solid ends-for the sheep to put their heads through. There were less spaces than I had sheep so they didn't pull so much out and waste so much of it, but chewed it over the bale. On top of the bale was a grill of 60mm square through which they pulled their mouthful of hay the bits dropped down, but before they could pull more out they had to eat what had fallen from their mouthes. Until they had eaten their fill then they would not take their heads out as they would lose their place at the hay rack, this can save about 25%of small bale hay. I am simply relating what I put into practise after reading an article by Alan Beat in a small holding magazine. He claimed about 50% savings , in reality for me it was less, but significant. Regarding big round bales if you can buy from a local farmer then he will deliver and unload usually if you buy enough!
Mutton

Thanks.

Big bales are really out for us - couldn't get them into where we store feed. Don't want them out in the field wrapped in plastic as the sheep will gallop over them and break the plastic.

Nice info in general though.
crofter

Big bales are really out for us - couldn't get them into where we store feed. Don't want them out in the field wrapped in plastic as the sheep will gallop over them and break the plastic.


Last year I bought silage bales for my sheep. I surrounded each bale with 5 pallets, (tied together with some baler twine) to keep the sheep away and another pallet as a "roof" to keep the crows off. If you can get some pallets, or hurdles, out in the field might be the best place to keep your bales - if that's where you plan to feed them?
Mutton

The field that would be accessible for a delivery is not the one where they spend the winter.
Thanks for the thought but we are definitely going with small bales.
       Downsizer Forum Index -> Livestock and Pets
Page 1 of 1
Home Home Home Home Home