Agri View: Needle in a Hay Stack

Dan Agri View, Forage Crops

hay stackEverett Griner talks about the importance, and changes, of hay farming in today’s Agri View.

Needle in a Hay Stack

Well, everybody knows what we are talking about when we say “like looking for a needle in a hay stack.” Most people can’t tell you what a hay stack looks like though. It was part of the primitive system of preparing hay for winter storage. The reason I mentioned this is because growing and storing hay is one of the most important crops our farmers produce. But believe me, it isn’t stacked anymore. In fact, hay equipment is some of the most modern equipment on a farm today. Hay cutting, raking and bailing is big business. It is vital to the cattle industry. It is a crop that needs good weather. You won’t raise cattle without it. It doesn’t claim the attention of the other crops, but it is just a crucial to successful harvest. But you don’t see hay stacked anymore. No, not where I live.

That’s Agri View for today, I’m Everett Griner.

From: Farm Collector

History of the Hay Press

The mechanical hay press made loose-hay transportation a thing of the past.

by Tharran Gaines

Interior of old barn with straw balesJust as ancient man came up with the idea for the wheel, it was probably only a matter of time until someone devised the idea of squeezing loose hay into a package that could by tied, handled and transported. But until the mid-1800s, hay that was harvested for livestock was simply piled into stacks or moved into the barn for use during the winter. Moving the crop involved pitching it onto a wagon and pitching it back off at the destination.

Built into the barn

That all changed in the mid-1800s, with invention of the first mechanical hay press. Most of the earliest hay presses were stationary units built into a barn and extending two to three stories into the hayloft. Generally, a team of horses was used to raise a press weight, which was then dropped to compress the hay. Other versions used a horse- or mule-powered sweep at the bottom of the press to turn a jackscrew or a geared press.

Unlike later hay presses, these permanent models often made bales weighing as much as 300 pounds, secured by as many as five strands of wire or twine. One such press was built by P.K. Dederick’s Sons, Albany, N.Y., in 1843. Another, invented in 1843 by Samuel Hewitt, Switzerland County, Ohio, is on display at a landscape company in Lawrenceburg, Ind. Marketed as the Mormon Beater Hay Press, it was powered by a mule attached to a sweep at the bottom of the press. The mule was then led counter-clockwise to lift a 1,000-pound wooden weight to the third-floor level via a pulley.

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