The Veterinary and Livestock Division within the Ministry of Agriculture continues to pave the way for livestock farmers, horse owners and other interest groups to have feed for their animals on a regular basis, especially during the dry period.
When the PR Unit within the Ministry of Agriculture visited Abbott’s Farm off Friars Hill Road not too long ago, heavy duty equipment- the Cutter/Disc Mower and the Baler were busy at work on the near 14 acre-field.
Animal Health Assistant Lennox Henry said that ‘Hay Making’ or ‘Hay Baling’ is a method of forage conservation that keeps the grass for a long period of time, once it’s dry.
Why this cannot be done during the rainy period? Henry replied, ‘It actually reduces the shelf life of the grass; it makes it moldy and it gets fungus. If it (the grass) is used up right away, it’s a different case, but this process as it is now, entails a lot of stock piling; storing and you don’t want the grass to spoil.”
The normal procedure for Hay Baling is, once the grass it cut, it’s allowed to wilt for a day or two but since the weather is favourably dry at this time, the baling proceeds.
Henry used the opportunity to appeal to livestock farmers to do their part to adequately prepare their lands to provide forage for their animals as it is their responsibility to ensure they conserve Forage for dry periods.
“That ‘s a problem we face in Antigua with almost all the farmers; they are not preparing their field; they are not improving their pasture; they have to be relying on the government to provide feed. We should be the one providing technical support than actually giving grass but we try to assist as much as we can.”
The Hay Baling process is normally done between January and April, the dryer part of the year.
The Disc mower cuts the grass and leaves them in a row which makes it easier for the Baler to pick up.
The Veterinary and Livestock is the only known agency that has a Hay Baler. The division provides the service for farmers and stored Hay can be accessed at Paynters Pound.