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Hay Moisture Testers Accurately Determine Moisture Content

Is your hay too moist? Not moist enough? For years, the touch test has been how most hay producers have gaged the state of their hay. The problem is that the touch test is extremely subjective.

Trying to determine a specific moisture content is nearly impossible using the touch test. Even when no more water can be squeezed out of hay when you wring it out, the moisture content of that hay can still be greater than 50 percent.

Stored wet hay also is a factor since microbes can go wild, increase temperatures and lead to spontaneous combustion. The result? Hay storage building fires. Put up hay too dry and nutrient quality and palatability suffer because leaves break off.

So, what’s a hay producer to do? Enter hay moisture testers. For a relatively small amount of money, storage building fires can be a thing of the past.

Moisture testers help producers put up hay in the correct ranges—lower than 18 percent for small square bales and less than 16 percent for large round hay bales. Large square bales typically range from 12 to 16 percent. When hay is stored at these moisture levels, quality is maintained while moisture levels help to prevent spontaneous combustion.

There are a number of hay moisture testers to choose from so no matter what your budget, you can find one. The less expensive models quickly check hay in the windrows, while the pricey models are run from stationary units. Still others use infra-red meters. There are a variety of hand held and portable testers, as well.

Pistol-grip testers work best if you are testing multiple bales at one time since you can hold the tester in one hand while checking the reader with the other hand. There also are testers that measure moisture and temperature.

Another option is a baler-mounted tester. This type of tester gives readings every few seconds as hay is baled. The drawback with this type of tester is that the moisture content reading can be off by one or two percent points.

Stationary stainless steel heat-based units give the most accurate moisture readings but samples must be brought to the unit. There are still more sophisticated options to choose from so depending on the level of precision you are looking for, there likely is a tester out there for you.

Posted By: The Hay Manager

Posted on: 08/01/2018
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