About Us2018-11-15T15:36:36+00:00

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HAY AND STRAW AND HOW WE MAKE IT

We are 3rd generation farmers who have been farming in Buckinghamshire since the 1900s. Our grandfather farmed at Longwick before acquiring his own farm in Bledlow in 1918 which is farmed by his grandchildren right up until today. In the 1980s our late father Richard set up his own farm where he continued to make Top Quality Hay. Now we are continuing the tradition and continue to make the best possible product for our customers.

HAY
STRAW
HAYAGE
PRIZE WINNING HAY
ABOUT US

WHAT IS HAY?

Find out more about hay and how we make it

Our hay comes in various sized bales and is often the single most important feed source for horses or ponies. In the UK there are predominantly two types of grass hay meadow and seed:

  • Meadow hay consists of many species of grass, legumes (such as clover and alfalfa), herbs and flowers from older, established pastures. These pastures will be used for cattle or sheep grazing as well as hay production.
  • Seed hay consists of either a single species or a limited number of species, usually ryegrasses, that have been specifically sown for hay or silage production. Often forming part of a crop rotation these pastures will be less than five years old, typically 2-3 year of grass production is used as a break crop before returning to cereal production.

Hay is a mixture of grasses dried until only about 18% to 20% of the moisture remains. It is most nutritious if cut before the seed heads fully develop, and is usually baled in either small square bales preferred for stabled horses, or large square and round bales usually fed to cattle.

The mixture of grasses will depend on what is native or hardy in any given area.

At Moreton Fields Farm we make both seeds and meadow hay. Successful hay making relies on the forage being dried so it contains no more than 18 to 20% moisture before being baled and stored. To ensure our hay is as nutritious as possible, it is normally cut in June, just before flowering. This is because grasses and legumes form the basis of hay, and when these plants start to grow in spring they produce mostly leaves, with little stem, and these leaves contain high levels of highly digestible protein and carbohydrates that are the ideal feed for ponies, horses and other herbivores.

As the plant matures it goes from this young leafy growth in spring, to an increasingly tall plant prior to flowering with a good protein and digestible energy content, through to a plant with thick stems that has flowered, produced seed and dispersed the seed in late summer. The protein content declines and the fibre content increases. This means the more leaf the hay contains, the more digestible it will be for animals, and the more stem you have the less digestible it is.

HOW WE MAKE OUR HAY

Farmers have been making hay in the UK for more than 6,000 years. To ensure the hay has the best nutritional benefits, and is palatable to animals it must be made properly. This means mowing at the right time and literally making hay while the sun shines! Although dried grass is a relatively simple product it takes great care to make. Unfortunately, there are many things that can go wrong, which could lead to coarse or mouldy hay. Thankfully with over 50-year experience, you can rely on Top Quality Hay to make hay of the best quality. Read on to learn more about the process:

MOWING

Hay making is very weather dependent we will be monitoring the long-range forecast because at least 3-5 days of fine sunny weather is needed if the grass is to dry. The first stage is to cut the grass. This must be done when the grass is fully grown, but is not over-mature. When first cut it is left in rows.

TEDDING

The tedder or turner takes the hay out of windrows, and spreads it flat across the field. Spreading the grass out allows it to dry faster.

RAKING

It usually takes 3 to 4 days for the hay to dry properly. The rake is used to rake the hay back into windrows, or to turn over the drying windrows. It is then ready to be picked up by the baler.

BAILING

When the grass is completely dry rowed up, it is ready to be baled.  This year our conventional small pick-up bales were baled and packed into convenient packs of 21 small bales.  These are much easier and quicker to handle using a modern telehandler ensuring they are transported and stacked in the barn as quickly as possible thus avoiding any inclement weather that might be heading in and avoiding it getting wet.

HAULING AND STACKING

Once the hay is baled, it is still not completely safe from the weather. Therefore, the bales are loaded onto trailers and hauled out of the fields to our purpose-built hay barns back at the farm yard.

WHAT IS STRAW?

Straw is an agricultural by-product of growing cereals (wheat, barley and oats) it is the stalks, leaves and head that is left after the grain has been separated from it.  Its main use is as a bedding for livestock – horses, cattle, rabbits, guinea pigs etc. It has a lower feed value than hay but can be used to feed cattle. Its industrial uses include strawboard, fuel and insulation.  It comes in various sized bales which can be stored either inside or outside, although it is preferable to keep it dry.

WHAT IS HAYAGE?

Haylage is taken from early cut semi-wilted grass and is a lot richer than hay.  It is compressed and wrapped in a thick plastic wrapper to ensure it is airtight and sealed to retain the moisture.  Mild fermentation occurs that prevents fungal spores developing. Haylage should be used within 2-4 days once the wrapper is opened.

AWARD WINNING HAY

In the last 60 years we have won many local and regional hay and silage making competitions as members of and on behalf of Thame & District Farming Club. Here is a selection of recent achievements.

2014
2nd Prize Meadow Hay

2013
3rd Prize Meadow Hay

2012
1st Prize Baled Haylage
3rd Prize Meadow Hay

2011
2nd Prize Seeds Hay
3rd Prize Meadow Hay

2010
2nd Prize Baled Silage
3rd Prize Baled Haylage

2009
2nd Prize Seeds Hay
3rd Prize Meadow Hay
3rd Prize Baled Haylage

2008
1st Prize Seeds Hay
2nd Prize Baled Silage

2007
1st Prize Meadow Hay
1st Prize Bag Silage
2nd Prize First Year Lay Seeds Hay (for the growing grass crop)
2nd Prize Meadow Hay (for the growing grass crop)
3rd Prize Seeds Hay

2006
1st Prize Meadow Hay
1st Prize Haylage
1st Prize Bag Silage

2005
1st Prize Meadow Hay
2nd Prize Seeds Hay

2004
1st Prize Seeds Hay
3rd Prize Meadow Hay

OVER 100 YEARS OF TOP QUALITY HAY

The Walker family have been making top quality hay in Buckinghamshire for over 100 years – we are a family business.  Top Quality Hay is a trading name of R A Walker (Farms) Limited the company our grandfather formed in 1962. Although he had been farming in Buckinghamshire since 1918 he didn’t form his company until the 1960s.

Until 1986, our father Richard Walker, was making top quality hay on the family farm where he grew up in Bledlow near Princes Risborough.  In fact, that’s where the name comes from, he would always have a sign on the farm gate that simply said, “Top Quality Hay for sale”. It wasn’t a mere claim because it was backed up by numerous awards and prizes he won for his hay, haylage and silage at Thame and District Farming Club and even at Regional level where he represented Bucks, Berks and Oxon. Subsequently, he settled in Kimblewick and continued to win awards for the top-quality hay he made on his own farm, Moreton Fields Farm.

Today the Walker family continue to produce consistently high-quality hay, haylage, straw and silage year upon year on our 500-acre farm.  The farm is situated at the foot of the Chilterns in the Vale of Aylesbury the farm features the loamy over clayey soils with a slowly permeable subsoil making it ideal for growing grass.