Hay and your lawn are both grass, right? Is hay really just baled up lawn grass or is something else going on here?
Hay is not lawn grass. Hay is made from plants selected for yield, palatability and nutritional value, while lawn grasses are selected for looks and dense growth.
While your lawn and hay are both made out of grass, the types of grass used for each are different and are managed for different results.
If you are interested in which animals would make great use of your lawn, read Best Animal To Eat Extra Grass.
Lawn grass is short and walkable
Lawn grasses are cut short and selected to be used in place by the homeowner.
Think about how you take care of your lawn. Frequent mowing, keeping the height of the plants short and then using it as a playground for the kids.
This makes your lawn more like a living carpet that is kept for it’s beauty and usefulness.
Lawns often have chemicals and pesticides applied
Another potential area of concern is with using a lawn for hay is that often people put chemicals, specifically herbicides or pesticides, on their lawns.
Of course, these chemicals will be on the leaves of the grass and that’s the part the animal would be eating! Not good.
Hay is made from taller forage plants
Hay is made from plants that produce more tons per acre, are high in nutrition and palatability and will store well for future use as a livestock feed.
The main usefulness of hay plants is in their ability to economically produce a dry forage, which will be fed at a different time of the year and in a different location than where it was harvested.
This means getting large amounts of hay per harvest, to make the best use of the equipment and the farmer’s time, and having forage that is great for the animals that will be eating it.
Notice I didn’t mention anything about looks or walking around on it, which would be main concerns for a lawn.
You can make hay off of your lawn
We have made hay off of the lawn where we used to live when it had gotten particularly long. I’m talking more than a foot tall here!
It wasn’t a huge area and we had the equipment, so it was easy to do.
This was at our old house, where we rented a barn a few miles away. The eaters were not where the lawn was growing and we weren’t big on mowing the lawn!
How To Make Hay is an article I wrote explaining the process, if you want more details.
Let your animals eat your grass fresh
Now, since we are in one location, we would never make hay off of the lawn. It’s so easy to just rotate the sheep through the yard instead.
The first picture in this article shows one of the trees in our yard that the sheep ate around. The grass is regrowing to be grazed again.
Heavily consider whether or not it would be easier for you to use your animals to graze the lawn, rather than going to the work of making it for hay.
Chances are that the grass being used for grazing makes much more sense than cutting, drying, baling and storing it for hay.
Even animals that you would not normally think of as grazers, like poultry and rabbits, will get quite a bit of use out of your lawn.