Floating hay is a significant problem in the horse industry. Floating hay is when pieces of hay are detached from the main body of hay and are left to float around the barn or pasture.
These flakes can be very small, making them hard to find, or very large, making them obvious to see. Floating hay can be very frustrating to deal with as it takes time and effort to get rid of it.
Removing floating hay is a continual process as the more you use your pastures and barns, the more floating hay will crop up. It is hard to prevent completely, but there are ways to reduce it. Luckily for you, we have listed some tips to help you get rid of floating hay!
Floating hay can be caused by many different things. Some of these causes are not fixable, but most are easy to identify and fix.
Comparing the weight of a flake of hay to other things
When comparing the weight of a flake of hay to other things, the standard comparison is one tenth of a gram. One tenth of a gram is also the weight of one single-sided pixel on your computer screen.
This is how we get the term pixel weight, because one pixel on your screen is said to weigh one tenth of a gram. It sounds crazy, but it makes sense when you think about it!
Just like there are different sizes of hay, there are different sizes of pixels on your screen. A bigger hayflake would obviously take up more space than a smaller one. Similarly, a bigger pixel takes up more space on your screen than a smaller one.
One way to actually weigh a flake of hay is to use a scale that has very small weights attached to it.
Knowledge of hay flakes
Hay flakes is the term used to describe how hay is cut when being processed. The way the hay is cut determines how valuable the hay is and how much it weighs.
The worst way to cut hay is called over-thick. In this case, the plant is almost completely cut down, leaving just a few thin layers of leaves. This type of cutting takes a very long time to dry, which increases the chance of mold. It also does not feed as many animals due to its low volume.
Just-right thick cuts are almost perfect. These take the correct amount of time to dry and feed the correct amount of animals. There is not too much material left over for animals to pick through and waste.
The worst kind of thin cuts are those that leave almost pure grass leaves that do not have many layers to them. These take very long to dry and do not preserve as much nutritional value in them.
Knowledge of flaky things
While flakes are a common thing, not many people know what kinds of flakes exist, how many types there are, and their uses. For instance, did you know that there is a flake for every season?
Winter flakes include snowflakes and linzer cookies. Snowflakes take lots of effort to make, so try making one yourself! Linzer cookies are sweet pastries with a chocolate lining that look like trees.
Spring flakes include dandelions and pussy willows. Dandelions can be picked and put in water or used in a tea to brighten your day. Pick some pussy willows to make some creative decorations for your spring locale.
Summer flakes include coconut shells and sandals. Coconut shells make great containers for small items or plants! Sandals are needed in the summer, so donate those to someone who needs them.
Autumnal flaky things are falling leaves and apple pies.
Hay flakes are light but large objects
Although hay flakes may seem like a small, light object, they can actually be quite large. Hay flakes can be the size of a laptop or even a phone screen!
Hay is dried grasses, so when you fluff up the hay and pull it apart, you are actually just increasing the surface area of the hay straws.
Since hay is not very dense, you can pile up lots of it without using much space. One ton of hay weighs about a full truckload, so imagine how much space one ton of densely packed hay would take up!
Although it may seem silly, checking the weight of a flake of hay can be important when dealing with livestock. Given that they eat quite a bit of it, knowing how much it weighs helps determine if there is a shortage or surplus.
Comparison with a butterfly wing
A comparison that is often made is between the weight of a single blade of grass and the weight of a butterfly wing.
Butterfly wings are incredibly thin and light-weight due to the structure of the chitin in them. Chitin is a natural compound found in many organisms, including insects and algae.
Chitin is what gives insects their strong exterior, which makes it ideal for creating delicate structures like butterfly wings.
Just like how one can pull out a single blade of grass without disturbing the rest, you could theoretically pull off a single butterfly wing without harming the butterfly.
However, this would only be possible if the entire wing was as light as a single blade of grass!
Chitin is an interesting material with a low density, making it ideal for creating structures that are both strong and light-weight. This makes it a great material to work with when designing delicate structures like butterfly wings.
Comparison with human hair
When talking about horse hair, people often compare it to human hair. Just like us, horses have several different hair types and shades.
Just like humans, some horses have much longer hair than others. Some breeds, such as Przewalski’s horse, have very short sparse hair. Others, like the Percheron horse breed, have very thick long hair.
Some horses even grow wool like a sheep! The Falabella Horse is known for its wool-like fur.
Like we mentioned before, the weight of horse hair depends on its length and density. So if we had to put an exact weight on it, it would be the same as human hair of the same length and density.
Interestingly enough, scientists have found that horse hairs can hold up to 1 ton of weight! That is much heavier than a flake of hay weighs.
The texture and structure of a flake of hay
When looking at a flake of hay, it is important to note its texture and structure. The way these pieces are put together makes a big difference in how it falls and lands.
If the flake of hay is soft and fluffy, it will land softer than if it was stiff. If the flakes are separated by a strong stem, it will land harder than if it was soft and fluffy.
These differences can be tested in a laboratory setting with calibrated instruments, which is very important for agricultural scientists. They need to know how these textures and structures will fall so they can predict the best ways to harvest them.
Agricultural scientists also study how different types of hay affect the nutritional content of feed for livestock like cows. By studying the effects of different hays on livestock, farmers can ensure their animals are receiving adequate nutrition.
How to make a flake of hay
Making a flake of hay is a thing that some people like to do. Making hay means harvesting grasses and drying them to use as fodder for animals or forage for animals yourself.
You can make hay using two methods: the needle and the wire rake method. The needle rake method involves picking all the grasses by hand and then laying them in a dry place to dry.
The wire rake method has you using a special rake with sharp wires that pull the grasses together into a bundle that can be stored or fed to an animal. When you have enough of these bundles, you can lay them out to dry.
Either way, having fresh lush grass is important in making good quality hay.