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Best Way to Hay

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

By Dick Perue

The June 24, 1920 issue of the Encampment Echo offers ranchers tips on economical ways to hay.

The hay crop, even when the labor supply is normal, causes more worry, anxiety and disappointment than any other crop. The time for harvesting is comparatively short. Other crops require attention at the same time, and the weather is to be reckoned with.

A great deal of labor is wasted every year during hay harvest, not because of actual idleness on the part of the workers, but because labor is expended unnecessarily on operations that do not utilize it to the best advantage.

 If an old method can be superseded by a new one that will enable the same number of men to accomplish more work in the same length of time, or fewer men to accomplish the same work in the same length of time, it will mean more hay saved, more profit to the farmer and a better condition for the country.

Shift burden from man to horse

Although there is a scarcity of man labor, there are still plenty of horses on most farms, and herein largely lies the solution of the problem. On farms where considerable hay is grown, methods must be adopted by which the greater part of the heavy labor is done by horses. This will necessitate the general use of certain types of laborsaving machinery, which have proved satisfactory in the western part of the United States. 

The small hay grower, however, need not make a very heavy investment in new haying apparatus, for by rearranging the working of his crew and using a little more horse labor for the hard work he can add considerably to the efficiency of his crew.

Here are some suggestions made by the specialists for avoiding waste of labor in haymaking.

Do not run two or more mowers close together. If the front mower has any trouble causing it to stop, all of the mowers usually wait while repairs are made on one. 

There is a tendency, also, for drivers to waste too much time talking when they stop occasionally to let the teams rest. A good practice when two or more machines are used is for each driver to lay off a “land” for himself and work independently, so there will be no interference from other machines.

Side delivery rake is best

Do not turn hay by hand. It is too costly. The cheapest and most efficient way of stirring hay in the windrow is with a two-horse tedder. 

One man will do more work than 12 men stirring with hand forks. It is not even necessary to have a man to run the tedder. A boy big enough to drive a team will do just us much work.

A one-horse rake operated by a man makes raking very costly. A two-horse sulky rake is better, but the side-delivery rake is best. When curing is done in the swath and a hay loader is used, the crew can start taking the hay from the windrow as soon as the side delivery has made one double windrow across the field.

 If the sulky rake is used, the crew will have to wait until the rake has gone several times across the field. 

If hay is to be bunched, the hand method is too expensive. A two-horse sulky rake can bunch 30 acres or more a day, and a boy can drive it just as well as a man. Even more labor can be saved, however, by using the push rake to bunch hay after it has been raked into the windrow. 

It is a good plan to have two men working together to round up the bunches, since more can be accomplished than when each works alone.

It is a waste of time to pitch hay into a small hayrack on a high-wheeled wagon. Use a large hayrack on a low-wheeled wagon.

Loading hay with pitchforks is the hardest, slowest and most expensive way. The men are working constantly, but the horses are doing nothing most of the time. If a loader is used, the hardest part of the work is done by the horses and the men can handle about 30 percent more hay.

Save labor on the stack

The push rake furnishes the most economical method of hauling hay to the stack, barn or hay press if the distance is not much more than one-fourth of a mile. One man, or a boy, with a good push rake and a team used to the work will handle three times as much hay as two men with a small rack on a high-wheeled wagon.

Stacking hay with a push rake and an overshot stacker mounted on wheels eliminates nearly all of the back-breaking work of the old pitchfork method. 

With a yield of one to one and a half tons to the acre, two men on the stack can easily handle all the hay brought in by three push rakes, accomplishing a vast saving in labor and hay over the pitchfork method. 

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