Overgrown Grass in Field - what would you do? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 08-18-2012, 02:41 PM Thread Starter
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Overgrown Grass in Field - what would you do?

Hello there :)

I am new to Alberta, just moved into an acreage. We have a hay field (unfenced), and a paddock for the horses.

The hay field was cut earlier this year before we bought the place, to my English eyes it looks as though I could get a second cut off it. The local farmer who cut it for the previous owners is I think a little reluctant to cut it for me again this year. I can't quite work out whether this is because a) he hasn't got the time or b) it's too short by Alberta standards to take another hay cut off

The horse paddock hasn't been grazed this year, and it's long and lush. If I were to put horses into it as it is I think they'd be down with Laminitis after day! Again, to my English eyes it looks like I could take a hay cut off it.


Apparently round here there are no Contractors eager and willing to come and cut and bale your hay for you - we have to make friends with the local farmers and ask them to do it, or do it ourselves.

We will no doubt make friends..... but it's a bit early to be that pushy!

We don't have the equipment to cut and bale it ourselves.

So!! Do I...

A) phone round to the people selling baled hay (advertising in the local store) and ask them if they'll come round and bale it for me?

B) if they won't, then I just bite the bullet and mow it so I can put horses on it, accepting that this year I won't be able to make my own hay and will have to buy it in

C) risk annoying the local farmers by being pushy-new-woman and plead with them to come and do some hay for me.

D) rush into a purchase of a tractor with cutting/raking/baling equipment even though I don't really know what I'm doing at the moment

Thanks for your help and advice :)

Get up, get going, seize the day. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and thunder. Getting on your horse is always worth the effort.

Last edited by Shropshirerosie; 08-18-2012 at 02:42 PM. Reason: Because my first title didn't make sense
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post #2 of 11 Old 08-18-2012, 02:46 PM
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Maybe offer to pay someone to do it? Put word out with the farmers perhaps? I think most will do it if cash is offered
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post #3 of 11 Old 08-18-2012, 02:53 PM
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I would go with C, but offer to either pay them for their time and trouble in cash or in a percentage of the hay baled, and visit bearing gifts when you go. Home cooked pastries/sweets and bottles of liquor are the usuals where I have lived.
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post #4 of 11 Old 08-18-2012, 03:05 PM
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Yes usually giving a portion of the hay to the guy who baled it, or a $ amount per bale is "normal".
As far as for grazing, it's the short fresh spring grass that's going to founder a horse, not the long stemmy growth as long as they aren't just put on it cold turkey. You can pick up some electric fencing and fence off a small lot for the horses overnight and just mow that, and then turn them out on the long grass for gradually longer and longer periods. Or you can pick up grazing muzzles and leave them on for part of the time. The horses can still drink and eat a little bit with them on, but some of them get so mad, it's kind of funny :P
I don't know if you can bale pastures? I'm fairly sure the norm is just to mow them, or graze them down.

Also, what is your water source out there like? IMO it would be definitely worth it to get underground lines sunk to an auto/heated waterer now so the horses have a heated water source and you don't have to haul water in winter!

Good luck!

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post #5 of 11 Old 08-18-2012, 06:29 PM
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You may wish to put an advertisement in "Kijiji" (it's an internet classified adds site in Canada - you see some interesting stuff on it) and see if you can scare up some interest in the hay field and paddock. You can ask for a dollar value or take shares. Typically, when someone else cuts your hay for shares they will take 2/3s and you will get 1/3 of the baled hay (although I have heard of it going on 1/2 and 1/2 basis in the rare circumstance). I don't know how big your hay field is but be prepared that if it is too small in size, the big local haying outfits (or farmers) may not be interested in it. The other thing is it"s getting close to harvesting for the farmers and they may want to concentrate on that rather than a haying job.

If you are going to get yourself a tractor (which is pretty much vital to an acreage of any size), you could look for a 3 point hitch rough cut mower and use that to cut down your paddock if it really needs it. The hay field could likely wait until next year then. A new 5 ft one is around $1,200 to $1,500 depending on the brand you buy or you might be able to pick up a used one also.
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post #6 of 11 Old 08-18-2012, 06:47 PM
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Problem with second cutting grass is unless it's been fertilized and irrigated the guy cutting it probably wont get his costs back. That means you'll have to pay someone to do it all and it likely would be cheaper to go buy hay instead.
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post #7 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 01:28 PM
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I'm going to go with the farmer on this. He can look at a field and estimate what the yield will be. His time, equipment, fuel as well as your time and effort will not be met by how much hay will come off the field. You also need to have a certain amount of stubble height to prevent winter kill. The plant left on the stem will help hold the snow down that will provide insulation for the crowns in your bitterly cold winters.

How large is your paddock? With the regrowth as well as the new growth, there might be a considerable amount of forage available to cut and bale. If it's up to your knee, you might get 2 ton/acre. Not really worth it for his time but it might be something you want done for next year's grass. If it's up to your thigh and falling over, it might be closer to 3 ton/acre. It won't be the nicest hay but it will provide "chew" hay that will keep them full and warm in the winter. It probably is too rich to eat at this point. I'd keep them off of it until you get a hard freeze and everything starts to die. After that, it's just "hay on the stem". Another option is to lease it to a farmer to run cows or goats on to clean it up. Trade for hay. Put up some temporary fencing on the hay field and let them graze on it as well. You can also barter fencing for leasing out the hay field to the farmer for a season or two. Might be much cheaper in the long run than doing the work yourself.

Don't rush out and buy equipment to do it yourself. You need to figure out what you need first. Late fall is a good time to buy used equipment and I'm sure there are local farm auctions all around you.

I would get a good winter fertilizer on it. Typically it will be lower in N than in the growing season, higher in P (for the roots) plus S, Fe, lime... whatever is needed in your area. Contact your neighbor farmer to find out what he normally applies, where to get your soil tested, who can apply it if he can't, where to buy it (in a bulk hopper)...
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post #8 of 11 Old 08-27-2012, 10:21 AM
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Im pretty sure the OP is aware that she will be paying for these services people lol. Farmers will not waste their time, fuel, wear on tractor, twine expense, ect to bale someones hay for free.

That being said, I would definetly be calling around as these people will be making money off of you. Plus if you can talk hay (or cattle lol ) with a farmer, that's the quickest way to make friends and meet neighbors.

I can understand why they might be hesitant to cut this late in the growing season as since your in alberta, its probably going to start getting cold there really soon. Maybe the grass wont be able to recover before it goes dormant?

If that's the case I wouldnt hesitate to graze on it while you can..but be sure not to over graze or let your horses tear it up.
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post #9 of 11 Old 08-27-2012, 10:27 AM
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sorry just read the post above mine... maybe its different up there but, this late in the hay season down here in kansas and the grass is far from rich.. quite the opposite actually.
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post #10 of 11 Old 08-27-2012, 08:24 PM
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Up here, many farmers are still waiting to cut their second cut. If the field the OP is referring to hasn't been cut this year, the hay will be a bit woody, but still OK for cows. It does need to be cut soon however.
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