Grazing lands cover a vast area of the earth's surface, and are a source of livelihood to many farmers and pastoralists, but they rarely provide adequate year-round feed, in terms of both quantity and quality, to support highly productive livestock. Since green herbage is only available seasonally in most regions, the provision of feed for deficit seasons has always been a major concern in many livestock production systems.
Hay is the oldest and most important conserved fodder, and it can be made with simple equipment, manually or with mechanization. Many small-scale farmers make hay and store crop residues to carry livestock through periods of shortage. Practices vary in different parts of the world, but follow some basic principles. The residues, straws and stovers of the main field crops, which represent about half of the biomass produced, are used as ruminant feed, although they generally require supplementation. Since these residues are available on-farm, some extra care in their harvest, storage and use is often well worthwhile.
FAO has long emphasized the importance of forage and its position in farming systems, particularly for small-scale producers. This publication discusses hay, hay crops and crop residues in a wide range of situations, as essential components of fodder management in livestock production, and draws on examples from many parts of the world. It addresses technicians, advisers and extension workers dealing with the small-scale farming, traditional sectors and development projects. It covers a wide range of issues, from basic principles to a series of case studies, illustrating the practices and some of the problems of haymaking in developing countries.
The manuscript was prepared by J.M. Suttie, who retired from FAO recently. It uses much information collected in the field during many years with the Organization. It is hoped that this publication will assist the improvement of fodder conservation, and thus of livestock husbandry, by small-scale farmers and pastoralists.
Thanks are particularly due to Caterina Batello and Stephen Reynolds of the Grassland and Pasture Crops Group for ensuring that the book was brought to publication.
Crop and Grassland Service (AGPC)
Plant Production and Protection Division