Tools/pocedures needed for producing consistent, high quality hay for horses?

Asked November 18, 2019, 3:27 PM EST

Can you recommend a knowledgeable “hay” person with whom I could talk about what equipment to buy to efficiently produce top quality hay for the equine market? About procedures to implement to produce a very consistent, high quality product? I have switched over 2000 acres to organic certification and want to add 320 acres of alfalfa/grass hay to my rotation. I am experienced in producing IP grains and oilseeds for domestic and international food markets. I have very little experience with forage and hay. Thanks for your attention.






Piatt County Illinois

1 Response

I have a couple of suggestions for you. First as far as which high-quality hay to produce for the horse market, do a little market research. Hobby horse owners typically like a grass hay or a grass-alfalfa mix, since it is harder for them to over-feed their horses. Pure alfalfa hay is more nutritious and more for the working horse market. If your market is going to be the local market, ask a few of the boarding stables what type of hay they prefer.
For productions advice, we have two small seed dealers in Illinois that are very knowledgeable in the latest forage varieties and the best establishment practices. Midwest Grass & Forage (www.midwestgrass.com) located in Macomb, Laura or Dean would be the people to talk to there. The other seed dealer is ProHarvest Seeds (www.proharvestseeds.com) in Ashkum, and I would recommend talking with Doug Hanson.
As far as large local hay producers, there are two farmers that might be of interest to you. Sam Brandenburg, who farms between Monticello & Cerro Gordo and produces high quality alfalfa hay in large squares.The other is John & Andy Freeland, who farm in the Dalton City City area and produce high quality grass hay a lot of which is put up in small squares.
Hope you find this information helpful and if I can be of further assistance, you can reach at: dgucker@illinois.edu or 217-877-6042.