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Hay Dryer Improves Creamery’s Cheese Products
Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm, a working dairy and creamery, makes it their goal to maximize the potential of their homemade cheeses by feeding only perfectly dry forages to their cows.
To support that goal, 8 yrs. ago they installed a propane-powered hay drying and cooling system to help prevent anaerobic fermentation or ensiling of their harvested hay crops.
Most European hay dryers were built for large square bales, but the German-based model they purchased supported the 5-ft. round bales the farm used.
A 100-bale drying system was installed in a large rectangular building with two large turbines pushing heated air from the center of the structure in opposite directions. A concrete floor, with holes sized for the 5-ft. bales, holds the hay as it’s brought from the fields. Metal grating in each floor opening supports the bales above 4-ft. deep insulated ducting.
“We have the capacity to dry 100 bales at a time,” says Ellie Searles, Jasper Hill Farm’s crop manager. “We have a separate 50 bale cooler of the same design that’s not heated. Air is forced through these bales to prevent pickling of the hay while they wait for a spot in the dryer.”
Large outdoor propane tanks feed the twin turbines. The fuel is ignited, and the air is heated in a separate chamber. Then, it’s forced into the underfloor ducting and through the bales positioned in the dryer.
On average, to bring 25 percent moisture hay down to 10 percent, the dryer needs to run for 24 to 36 hrs., although much depends on air humidity and whether hay is first, second or third cutting.
“With later cuttings, there’s less negative space between the blades of grass and the hay is packed tighter,” Searles says. “A 25 percent third cut bale would take longer to dry than a first cut bale as the bales are denser.”
She says the drying and cooling unit is critical to the farm as often the climate and humidity make drying hay in the field impossible.
“It works very well as sometimes it can be the only way to deal with our moisture issue. It helps us get the highest quality milk and cheese from dry hay.”
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jasper Hill Farm, 884 Garvin Hill Rd., Greensboro, Vt., 05842 (ph 802-533-2566; info@jasperhillfarm.com; www.jasperhillfarm.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #2