Building Haycocks/Printable version

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Building Haycocks

The current, editable version of this book is available in Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection, at

Permission is granted to copy, distribute, and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.

To do

Feel free to add your suggestions to this list of improvements. If you complete one of the tasks, please place strike through the comment using <s></s> tags.

This book is at infant, nay perhaps newborn stage, so todo's are at broad level

Current To-Dos[edit | edit source]

  1. Somebody please remove the speedy template or I'm wasting my time and resource I and any other contribitor could be putting to better use of in WP and RL will be wasted. Only an idiot would join a book under a speedy.
  2. Complete a basic page for every subpage in the Haymaking Chapter including Navigation
  3. Complete a basic page for all the Chapter Level tasks.
  4. Add a stage thingy for every page in the master TOC

Safe harbour

Safe Harbour[edit | edit source]

This wikibook is for general information and no responsibilty is accepted for any injury or loss for use of the information in this WikiBook. Haymaking and associated activities hold inheirent risks and due dilligence is require to minimize the risk to self, other people and property.


One-horse hay rake - usable for gathering hay into rows, cloce to haycocks, and raking stray hay from a field after building haycocks
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The original tool for cutting hay was a scythe, which is a slow, labour-intensive means of cutting a hay meadow. Horse-drawn machines with finger bar mowers pulled by one or who horses were a great improvement. Tractors also have finger bar mower attachments availabe. The finger bar mower can sometimes jam in heavy meadows, and with tractors it is important to ensure the power to the mover is removed before clearing a jam or their is a risk of injury including loss of fingers. A drum mower, with two rotating drums rotating at speed is has typcially replaced the finger mower. These are generally more efficient and less susceptable to jaming. The cutting implement gear is generally covered by a skirt as stones can be flung out at high speed, there is still risk of this if one is followed on foot.

Next Page: Cutting/Timing | Previous Page: Cutting/Execution
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These "haycocks" pictured in a field in 2009 are best described as "handshakings", somewhat smaller than traditional haycocks and more susceptable to the weather

Haymaking is the process of taking the fresh cut grass and turning it into hay fodder ready for building into a haycock. The process of haymaking for a bale is similar but the hay must be drier and more seasoned before attempting to bale it, particularly for square bales. Grass cut for silage by contrast only requires minimal drying before being baled before taken to a pit.

There is an adage make hay while the sun shines. If the sun is shining and hot and the field open and especially with a gentle breeze the grass will turn to hay with relatively little work and trouble. If the weather turns wet and cold and the field is shady and the days less long saving the hay will become much more difficult.

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The perfect traditional starting point for building a haycock in a field is the exact right amount of hay gathered round in a circle approximately slightly over three metres in diameter with the surrounding ground having been raked cleaned of any remaining hay. This would have been prepared by the gathering team ready for the specialist haycock builders to build the haycock from the gathered hay. Any wet, damp or rough hay would be have been separated to its own location for use in the very base or on the top.

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The diameter of the base of a haycock sited on a field will be approximately 2 metres wide, and can be judged by sight or by the length of a pitchfork. In general those planned for move horse and cock-shifter may be larger than those planned for move by small tractor, e.g. Ferguson 20, with rear prong attachments where balance issues may result.

The actual site of the haycock must be chosen with a little care. It should not be in a dip where water and dampness may gather as the haycock seasons in the field.

Next Page: Tramping
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Tramping refers to the practice of treading on the loose hay being built to enable a reasonable compression on the hay being built. As well as building haycocks the method can also be used in the storing of hay in barns, sheds and on hay carts. The person doing the tramping may also use a fork to help receive the hay, though this may be a safety risk if an inexperiences younger person is doing the tramping which is often the case. If a dedicated tramping is not available a builder may sometimes jump on the haycock while the build is low to stop the haycock growing too fast with a low density of hay. Unless done poorly the tramping should add to the stability of the haycock being built and reduce the risk of instability and toppling.

Next Page: Topping | Previous Page: Base
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Topping refers to the building of the topmost part of the cock which narrows in at the apex. As the top is neared it is a skilled art to gently layer precisely hay to the top of the haycock. Gentle beating with pitchforks and use of rakes may be used to keep the top even and well combed down. It is possible to use a less well seasoned forkful of hay for the very top if required.

In the event of wind it may be necessary for one person to hold the top down with a pitchfork rake until the haycock can be secured with ropes.

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After a haycock has been built it is essential to secure it with ropes tied at the bottom and going over the apex. If this is not done securely the haycock will likely lose its top and have to be rebuilt. Specialist twine is generally used for the purpose, through a rope may also be constructed from hay. Two ropes are generally required which should cross at right angles over the top; a single rope may be used as a temporary measure though this has some risk. Roping is generally a two-person job and a third may be required if conditions are windy to hold the top of the haycock from blowing away.

One person holds the end of the twine at the base of the haycock and the spool tossed or passed or guided over. For the second rope it should be at 90 degrees to the first. To another person directly the other side. The twine is coaxed into the optimal position on the top by re-guiding by pitchfork. Having established the require length the person with the spool cuts the twine. Both persons reach into the butt of the cock and from about a couple of feet in grab a fistful of hay that they twist and tug with medium force to ensure it is secure. Both then simultaneously and evenly pull down on the rope over haycock and then simultaneously knot it to the tuft pulled from the but of the haycock.

Creating a hay rope[edit | edit source]

If twine is unavailable for some reason it is possible to construct a rope out of hay, this requires two people. It is necessary for one person be near a supply of hay to make the rope, the other will operate a rope spinning handheld tool; though it is possible to use a smooth stick or pitchfork instead. A fistfull of long hay is placed round the machines hook (or stick) and the operator steadily spins the rope while the other person feeds hay into his hand which is gently holding the other end of the rope. Providing the spinning rate is constant and feed of hay at the other constant a well formed and strong rope will be formed, however failure to maintain an even place will cause the rope to have bits of thin diameter which will easily break

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After the haycocks have been built in the fields and before they are gathered for hay to be transferred to a long term storage facility such as a hayshed or into a large hayrick there is need for ongoing maintenance and gathering. Especially at first the haycock will settle and shrink and ropes will need to be re-tightened, possibly within a day or top and especially if there are large winds. Ropes are re-tightened by pulling the rope taut and re-knotting/tucking over the original attachment point. Sometimes a top of a haycock can slide down and can simply be judiciously pushed back into position by judicious use of the pitchfork.

Should it appear the haycocks are not in a safe location, perhaps in a part of field susceptible to flooding, it may be wise to move them to a safer location. This will be done my equipment used for gathering as described in the next section.

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C[edit | edit source]

  • Cock: Short and commonly-used abbreviation of haycock.

F[edit | edit source]

  • Fork: Commonly used short form of pitchfork

H[edit | edit source]

  • Handshaking: A small form of haycock typically half the size of a haycock.
  • Hay-making machine: (with back action) Can also be known as a Shaker. Used for scattering the hay to help it dry.
  • Haycart: Horse drawn used to transport hay. Usually used where the hay is built directly onto the cart for transport rather than use or an intermediate haycock.

L[edit | edit source]

  • Lap: A small loose bundle of hay formed by loosening up a bundle of hay in the arms and placing on the ground. Typically a last resort technique used in wet weather.

P[edit | edit source]

  • Pike: Alterative name for haycock, may sometimes be used for a larger haycock perhaps built outside for longer storage.
  • Pitchfork: Wooden pole tool of length usually under 2 metres with two (or sometimes three) curved sharp metal tangs at one end generally useful for many operations on loose hay.

R[edit | edit source]

  • Rake: The rake used for hay is normally of all wooden construction with up to about twenty wooden pegs
  • Roller: A drum of Template:Long or heavier pulled by 1, 2 or 3 horses depending on model for the purpose of flattening land and breaking up clods of turf. Can cause problems if used inappropriately.

S[edit | edit source]

  • Side delivery: A machine hauled by a strong horse to move and rake hay to one side. Can be used for rowing and raking.