Heartland Hay Company

Quality alfalfa and orchard grass hay from Western South Dakota

Text Box: Heartland Hay Company is a family owned and operated business, providing premium quality horse and dairy hay nationwide. 
 
We grow the hay ourselves on our irrigated farm in western South Dakota.  Hay is tested by a recognized forage lab to assure quality.
 
Our alfalfa hay typically tests at 15 to 25% protein, and 120 to 230 RFV and is baled into 55 to 60 pound, 34 inch squares, and also 3 by 3 and 3 by 4 large squares.  In 2015 we added alfalfa orchard grass mix at the request of our local customers.
 
Local pickup is always welcome. Typical delivered cost (by semi-load) is $8 to $12 per bale to most of Texas.  First typically has 15 to 16% protein and 120 RFV.  Later cuttings are finer stemmed and typically 18 to 24% protein and 140 to 230 RFV.
 
As of March 31, 2016 we have 50 bales, 3 x 3 x 8, dairy/horse alfalfa, RFV 183, 900 pounds @ $72. Also 30 bales 3 x 4 x 8 alfalfa orchard mix, 1200 pounds @ $93. 100 bales alfalfa orchard mix 60 pounds @ $7. All of this hay is barn stored, zero rain, excellent quality! Also 20 bales, 3 x 3 x 8, alfalfa cow hay @ $40 each, and 500 small squares of the same @ $3  All prices FOB Newell, SD, trucking available.  (Alfalfa test below.)

“thanks for the hay! I have never fed hay this good before.  The cattle love it. Thanks”  (from a customer near Buffalo, TX feeding some 4th cutting)

Baling second cutting in July 2010.

Text Box: We have raised quality alfalfa on 170 irrigated acres since 2001.  In 2009 we began square baling all of our hay and sending it nationwide, primarily to Texas.  Prior to 2009 we round baled and sold hay locally.  Western South Dakota is an excellent area for raising quality alfalfa.  We generally have very low humidity, enabling proper curing, which is essential to putting up mold-free hay.  Blister beetles are nearly non-existent in this area.  Our hay is stored in a 48 by 144 foot fully enclosed pole barn.  We added alfalfa orchard mix in 2015 at the request of local horse customers.

 

 

 

 

Irrigation is from the Belle Fourche River, picture here at flood stage in June 2009.

Bright green fourth cutting contrasts with some first cutting.  Note the finer stems in the fourth cutting compared to the first.

A disc mower is used for cutting—here in some first cutting— cut rather late due to weather.

Callie digs for a mouse.

Irrigation is from gated pipe.  Normal rainfall is only 15 inches per year and humidity July—September is low.  Lack of rain is good for curing hay but not for making it grow!

     Having grown up on a dairy farm just a few miles away and worked in engineering in Colorado and Texas for 35 years, I had longed to return to the farm.  In 2002 while living in Texas, we were able to purchase what we call River Bend Farm.  For the next few years we spent summers and holidays here with winters in Houston.  In 2009 we decided to move here full time.  Prior to 2008, we had only baled round bales but in 2008 we started in with small square bales.  What a learning curve!  In spite of growing up on a farm, and having raised hay since 2002, I learn every year.  It is very hard to put up high quality hay.  For maximum quality, alfalfa should be cut early, when just starting to bloom for maximum feed quality.  This is about every 30-35 days.  If left to grow, tonnage will increase a lot over the next days but quality quickly diminishes and it becomes "stemmy".  We only use the higher quality multi-leaf varieties of alfalfa that also have quick regrowth.  These varieties have a higher "leaf to stem ratio" for better feed quality.  One popular measure of alfalfa quality is protein and another is relative feed value or RFV.  We strive for protein over 20% and RFV over 160.  Typically first cutting is lowest quality with protein of 15% and RFV of 120.  Later cuttings yield less tonnage but can have protein up to 24% and RFV over 180.  In 2015, at the suggestion of local horse owners, we began to grow alfalfa orchard mix.  Typically lower in protein and RFV than straight alfalfa, this mix is often preferred by many horse owners.  We strive to be chemical free, having never sprayed for alfalfa weevils, and only applying fertilizer as needed to maintain soil health.  Winter grazing is typically used to provide natural fertilizer.  It is very tricky to put up good hay.  First it needs to be cut at the right time as referenced above.  Secondly, it must be completely cured out prior to baling, otherwise you end up with moldy hay.  This can be difficult in June when it rains more often.  If it rains on it even once, more than a sprinkle, then it is no longer horse hay.  As you can imagine, this is hard to achieve with sometimes daily summer thunderstorms!  Then, after curing, there are only about 4 hours per day when the moisture content is correct for proper baling with good leaf retention.  Those hours are typically 10 am to noon, and then 8 to 10 pm.  The moisture has to be between 14 and 19% during baling.  Optimum is 16%.  Bale too wet - moldy hay.  Bale too dry - leaves shatter.  We have moisture sensors in the baler with a readout in the tractor for continuous monitoring of moisture, however I can usually tell by how it bales.  Too wet and the baler "works hard", too dry and you can actually hear the hay crunch and crackle and powdery hay dust rises from the baler.  Then, after baling, it is good to let the bales "sweat" or dry on the outside prior to picking up with the New Holland 1049 bale wagon.  An advantage of the large square bales is that the baler goes 3 times faster with two windrows at once.  The quicker it is baled, the less chance of exposure to rain and the quicker the field is cleared, then irrigated to get the next crop growing.  Typically, part of the crop is small squares (slow process), and part large squares (faster).  At the end of the season, a large percentage of the crop might be marginal quality "cow hay".  Some is medium quality horse hay, and only 10 to 30% is the premium absolute best horse/dairy quality that we always strive for. Thanks for visiting our facebook page!  Stop and see us anytime - we are just off highway 212 between Nisland and Newell, SD.  (Call first to make sure we are here.)