A Seasons Worth of Hay Residue

So what does a seasons worth of hay residue on the pasture look like in the Spring? This is the same area talked about in the post where the sheep sleep. The guardian dog houses are on the lower right (second photo). 

Throughout the winter we like to feed hay over a large area, rolling out bales in a new spot each day so the residue is spread as much as possible. We fed and bedded the ewes in this particular spot on more than a few occasions though, because of the shelter it offered them. So this spot is the area of heaviest residue cover this year. We are deciding on whether or not to harrow this area to assist with the breakdown of the residue.

With too much residue the grass growth is held back in the spring while the opportunistic weeds get the upper hand. We have patches of thistle where this has occurred in the past. Over time, provided the same area is not over used each year (like many barn paddocks end up being used), the grasses will catch up and this will be a lovely well fertilized piece of pasture with diversity of species.


  1. When you say harrow, do you mean use a disc harrow? I have a chain harrow that I sometimes use on areas where the cattle have made a mess, but if there is a lot of hay, the chain harrow does not do a good job. I am thinking of trying dry rounds instead of baleage next year, so I could roll them out like you do.

  2. We'll use a heavy tine harrow. We don't want to turn the soil, just break up and move the residue. If the residue is really thick, it can pile up in the tine harrows as well.


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