We are re-posting an email we received from OSU Extension about what to do with your wet hay, as there was quite a bit of it this year due to all the rain. Hopefully you can find this helpful!
We have a lot of wet hay bales out there and need to find some solutions for using it. First we need to determine if it is safe to store and use. If the hay is unusable as feed, we need to dispose of it. Let?s explore these ideas.
1) Wet hay bales can lead to problems like barn fires and moldy feed. Make sure your hay is adequately dried before you store it. Here are links to some helpful information on that.
a. Hay Fires: Prevention & Control - http://nasdonline.org/document/917/d000758/hay-fires-prevention-and-cont...
b. Mold and mycotoxin problems in livestock feeding - http://www.das.psu.edu/research-extension/dairy/nutrition/pdf/mold.pdf
2) Chopping, flailing, and blowing it back on the field. If you have a silage chopper, that might work just fine. But, a regular hay chopper works best with dry hay (at least 80% dry matter). We know that leaving bales out on the field hurts the next crop yield. And, some observations show that leaving large clumps of grass on the fields kills the grass and leads to weed problems.
3) Maybe we can compost it and reuse the material. I am trying to organize some composting stations to deal with wet, unwanted hay. Want to help?
a. Composters Wanted: We need someone who has a large area and some heavy equipment to handle big compost piles, and is willing to accept wet hay and other amendments that would enhance composting. OSU Extension Service has resources (expertise and publications) to help you compost.
b. Wet hay delivered to the compost stations. Maybe even someone who can arrange delivery for folks.
c. We probably will need more nitrogen in the compost system, so would need grass clippings or manure brought in also. Grass clippings could come from individuals or landscape companies. Manure, well, you know where to get that?
d. Composter: Wet Hay Providers make your own deals as to how you might share in the work or share in the proceeds.
e. Compost your own. ?SU Extension Service has resources (expertise and publications) to help you compost.
4) Think about switching to baleage/haylage next year.
a. See Haylage and Other Fermented Forages at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/dairy/as1252w.htm
Gayland Ingalls in Camas Valley (south Douglas County) is accepting wet hay. For more info, call him at (541) 445-2424. He has been composting for a few years and is willing to help.