Lockhart Cattle Company spends every July busy “haying” so their grassfed cows never eat anything but Teton County’s high-quality grass. Stacking enough hay to feed the Cattle Company cows all winter long is hard work during the hottest month of the year.
The best time to cut hay in Jackson Hole varies from year to year but usually falls in mid July. To retain as many nutrients as possible, the fields are cut at full height but just before the grass blooms.
The haying process starts by cutting a pasture and raking the cut grass into rows where it’s allowed to dry until most of the moisture is removed. While hay dries it is particularly sensitive to the weather, if cut grass gets rained on, nutrients are leached into the soil. Hay can also spoil or mold in the field before it’s baled because of rain or excessive heat — and bad hay can make animals ill.
After the grass has dried Lockhart Cattle Company bales hay into large round bales that weigh 1,400 pounds each. The round bales are carefully stacked for year-round storage to prevent wetness and spoilage.
Sometime around November, when the weather begins to turn and the pastures are no longer green, the Lockhart Cattle Co. cows return from their summer pastures to be close to the barn and the hay supply. Throughout the winter Chase and the ranch employees feed the cows and horses twice per day with grass that was cut in July.
“Despite this year’s hot and dry weather our hay crop is looking good,” says Cody Lockhart, “and that’s good because when you’re in the grassfed business you’re only as good as your hay crop.”
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