If you’re someone who uses hay bales to feed their livestock, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about things like where to buy hay bales or what the price is of grass hay for sale. But have you ever considered how the hay was made?

It’s an interesting process and we’re here to share it with you.

Mowing: The first step when making hay is to cut the grass. Wait until the grass is fully grown but not over-mature before doing so. You should also cut it when you’re expecting 3-5 sunny days in a row so that it can dry out. When making hay, the grass is cut with a mower conditioner, which cuts the grass and feeds it through rubber rollers that crimp the grass, breaking the stalk open and allowing the moisture to be evaporated easier. The mower then drops the grass behind itself.

Macerating: Another name for a macerator is a “super conditioner” because instead of crimping the grass every 4 inches like the mower it crimps the grass every 1/8 inch so that the grass can dry even faster when there is a potential for bad weather to roll in.

Tedding: A tedder is then used to take the clumps of grass made by your mower and spread it flat across the field. Spreading out the grass into a thin layer speeds up the drying process.

Raking: Once the hay is dry, which should take about 3 or 4 days, you use a rake to rake the hay back into piles. Now it is ready to be picked up by the baler.

Baling: A tractor with a baler attached will go around and pick up the piles of hay. It will bale it into square bales for horses and round bales for cattle. The hay gets picked up in the front of the baler and is rolled up into a large tube usually into a 6-foot by 5-foot roll that weighs about 1,000 pounds.

Hauling/Stacking: After you’ve baled the hay, it is safe to be stored and resistant to weather. The outer layer of the bale forms a thatch that is about 2 inches thick and protects the inner part of the bale. The bales of hay are typically loaded into wagons and taken out into the fields to form haystacks.

While hay might seem like a simple product, it actually takes great care and quite a bit of effort to make. There are many things that can go wrong throughout the process that could lead to coarse or moldy hay. Perhaps this will help you appreciate what you’re buying more next time you purchase some hay for sale.