Any way to keep lawn grass as extra feed in winter?

chicks & ducks

9 Years
Mar 30, 2010
This may be a RIDICULOUS question but my hubby and I have been talking about whether or not you can keep lawn grass as winter 'hay' since the goats and alpacas eat the fresh grass in summer? Any thoughts on if this is possible? If so-how on earth do you store it? If not-just laugh and walk away and feel free to tell your friends about the ridiculous question you read today!
Hay is just dried grass. You cut it, you leave it to dry, turn it over, dry the other side, and store it like hay. However this is generally done with long grass. The small pieces of typical lawn grass cut with a mower will just ferment or dry to brown.
There are two possibilities, neither of them especially easy to get right. (First note that if you use any fertilizers or herbicides on your lawn, you are better off just skipping it altogether).

If you let the grass grow longish and then cut it (as opposed to mowing from 3" back to 1 1/2" as you normally would in lawn care) you can "theoretically" put some up as hay. HOWEVER the thing is you have to get it good and dry before storing it (impossible in some climates, challenging in most of the rest), and then keep it dry and with good airflow the whole time it's in storage (easy with *baled* hay or even haystacks of 'proper' hay, but because this stuff will be super short staple you almost *have* to bag it, e.g. in burlap bags, and then any slight miscalculation in initial dryness, or any moisture that creeps in during storage, will really tend to go to town in producing mold b/c a bag of short dried clippings just ends up so *dense*).

Alternatively you can put it up as homemade haylage (ensiled hay). However this requires you to be able to get your bags ABSOLUTELY 100% AIRTIGHT and have ZERO pinholes develop during moving them around and storing them; I have not tried homemade haylage myself but have always heard that you should expect to lose many if not most of your bags (once air gets in, it's ruined). Also, there are discussions about whether to feed haylage to goats (I have no clue about camelids but quite likely them too), as opened haylage bags can culture up Listeria. If you could use up a bag within a couple days that is arguably ok (of course, that's IF you could manage to PRODUCE truly-anaerobic bags).

Ok, I confess - I've done it.
The grass over the septic tank would be 5 inches long while the rest was about an inch and a half. So, while the little ones were playing in the yard, I took a pair of grass shears and cut it and threw it into a laundry hamper.
Mostly, I'd just carry it around back and feed it to my rabbits. If I had a little left over, I would toss it into an extra, all-wire rabbit cage where it would dry.
If there was a lot, I'd spread it on the driveway for an hour or 3 and then sweep it up and toss it in the cage where it would finish drying. When I wanted hay, I pulled a handful out of the cage.

If I had any kind of large area to do, I'd need a scythe. Not one of those horrid little serrated blade thingies on 2 foot handles they sell - a REAL scythe. Which is actually on my "presents I'd like from my sweetie list" (oh sweetheart... our anniversary is coming up...) I've never been a jewelry kind of gal. It drives me insane that we have x acres and such a small amount of livestock and BUY hay. It isn't hard to do by hand, just takes a little time.
I did some this year. Years ago, I had also done it. That time I had a nice-sized shed full. I have also used longer grass from the meadow area but the sheep seemed to prefer the lawn grass. When I would mow, I would do it in section. I made two passes side-by-side in the middle of a section and then went to the outside and began mowing. I would blow the grass clippings towards the middle. I would then let it lay until it was dry. It only laid a day or two. I would then manually rake it up and put it in empty feed bags. If you get clumping because grass is wet when you mow, I would pick those clumps out because they don't get dry.
I read on BYC someone took lawn clippings and put them in a ziplock bag for their chickies in the freezer. Obviously this would be for a very small flock.

OOOOppps!!! I just saw that this is in the other pets and livestock section. That would take a lot of ziplocks for goats and alpacas.
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Silage is of questionable safety for animals like goats and horses. They have rather sensitive digestive tracts and don't tolerate any accidents. Personally I'd never feed either on fermented feeds.
I've made hay with a scythe. Cutting with a scythe leaves the grass in windrows. Let it dry in the sun for a day, flip it with a rake the next morning, do the same on the following day. Weather permitting, by the third day it should be dry enough for storage. You can roll up the windrows with a rake or pitchfork into loose round bales and pitch them onto a small trailer or wheelbarrow. Store them in dry place or on high ground covered with a tarp.

I have one like pictured below from Scythe Supply in Maine. I use it to clean up around the edges of the vegetable garden, trim around the fence lines, and cut areas of hay field where the haying equipment can't go.


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