For those of us with Rabbits, Horses and other vegetarian mammals, hay is a dietary requirement. When purchased in bales, the terms 'first cut' and 'second cut' are often used. What do they mean and what difference are notable between first and second cut hay?
Hay starts growing in the field in the spring. It becomes time to mow (cut) the hay down as the hot weather of summer arrives. The green cut hay dries in the swaths in the field and is then baled for transport out of the field. This is first cut hay.
As summer bares on the cut field will grow up another stand of hay. This second stand is cut, dried and baled in the waning part of the summer. It is typical that this second cutting is a lighter harvest with less bales per acre transported off the field.
First cut hay will have courser texture than second cut hay because the spring growth leads to thicker stems and stalks and heaver leaves. Second cut hay is noted for being a much finer texture, has more tender leaves and is often times more nutritious.