Just about every farmer in the U.S. who deals with hay has a collection of hay tarps or some other means of protecting the crop that was harvested. More often than not, tarps are used to keep hay out of the rain so as to prevent mold and mildew, insect infestation, and spontaneous combustion. But there appears to be another very good reason for using tarps: protecting the hay from cows.
A recent video out of Washington state gave an intriguing look into what goes on in a typical pasture when a cattle rancher or farmer isn’t paying attention. The video shows several black cows enjoying their roll in a bale of hay down a hill. The important part here is that an entire bale was likely lost by the time the cows were done with it.
All Downhill from There
An article accompanying the video published by the UK’s Daily Mail says that the incident occurred in Oak Harbor, Washington. Apparently, a group of cows were out grazing in the pasture when one of them, nudged a standing bale of hay with her nose. It began rolling, inviting the cow to nudge it again. Meanwhile, the other cows in the group started running and bucking. Once the hay bale gained some momentum, it was all downhill.
You can tell from the video that there is a slight incline that appears to be just enough to keep the bale moving. As it rolls downhill, the bale completely unravels – until there is nothing left. Meanwhile, the entire herd of cows participating in the party seem to be enjoying the experience. T
In the Field, at the Barn
While the video provides an adorable look at one aspect of a cow’s personality that most of us are not familiar with, there is also the technical and financial sides of the issue for farmers. It is common practice for hay to be bailed and left in the field for days or weeks until it can be collected and brought to the barn. Hay tarps are a tool for protecting any hay left in the field until it can be brought in.
Whether in the field or the barn, a good selection of tarps keeps hay dry. A good tarp might also have prevented the Washington cows from using their bale of hay as a plaything. To illustrate the point, consider the fact that farmers will stack three or four bales of hay together in the field before tarping them. The sheer size of the combined bales would prevent any cows in the pasture from being mischievous.
The key to tarping hay bales is to provide enough coverage to keep moisture off without limiting the ability of the bales underneath to breathe. That’s why you don’t see hay bales completely wrapped in tarp material. Tarps tend to go on top with a little bit draped over the sides just to keep any precipitation or condensation from soaking into the hay.
It is likely the cows in Washington more than enjoyed themselves rolling their hay bale down the hill. Given that cows are more intelligent than most of us know, it is also likely they might try to repeat it if given an opportunity to do so. Stacking several bales together and covering them with a hay tarp should prevent any such incidents from happening again.
1. Daily Mail – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3681986/While-farmer-s-away-cows-play-Group-excited-calves-fun-rolling-giant-HAY-BALE-hill.html