How to Use a Side Delivery Hay Rake
Properly working a side delivery hay rake accomplishes two important tasks. Side rakes help situate cut hay into rows for easier baling. They also fluff up the hay to help it dry quicker. The quicker the hay dries, the quicker farmers can bale it and store it for animal consumption. Letting hay sit on the ground cut too long runs the risk of rain falling on it or wind blowing it away. All hay operators should understand proper side delivery hay rake technique.
- Hook the side rake up to your tractor and secure it in place with the draw-bar pin. In some models, you need to lock the T-handles on the side rake's hubs. This locks the wheels and the rake rotation mechanism together so that when the wheels turn, the side rake turns.
- Begin driving the side rake from one end. Most rakes kick the hay to the left side. Remember this so you don't throw hay over a fence or into a neighbor's yard. Basically, you want to make rows out of the hay by gathering it with the side rake and throwing it off to one side in a pile. These rows are called wind rows. The hay dries well in these rows because it sits higher off the ground.
- Let the hay dry for a day or two. Then, use a special side delivery hay rake technique to flip the rows over and dry the underside. Simply drive near the rows close enough to only rake with the far left side of the hay rake. This flips over the pile without disturbing it too much.
- Pay attention to the weather and try to cut, rake, and bale your hay when you have a three- day window of no rain.
- Some side rakes vary in design and may require you to turn a handle to drop all the wheels down before raking.