Hay fields provide important habitat for a variety of species such as grassland birds. Unfortunately, practices like cutting hay sometimes come at the expense of some of those species. For example, the threated Bobolinks’ nesting period coincides with early summer hay cutting. Since the birds are too young to fly, they cannot escape the cutting equipment, resulting in an extremely high mortality rate. Many people have had the unfortunate experience of field fauna mortality during the harvest. There are, however, ways that this mortality can be avoided, or at least lessened.

Depending on the goals of your hay-field management, different practices are appropriate. For example, is grassland bird conservation explicitly a farm goal? Or are you more interested in simply reducing the number of casualties when mowing? There are sometimes costs associated with adopting certain practices; therefore it is important to consider what your own personal goals are regarding the management of hay-fields on your land. Any combination of the following activities will help to increase field fauna survival rates.

Goal Practices
Bird Conservation Delay Haying, late maturing cultivars, Flushing bars, changing mowing pattern
Reducing Mortality Delay Haying, late maturing cultivars, Flushing bars, changing mowing pattern, raising cutting height
Reducing equipment damage Raising cutting height
Reducing erosion Raising cutting height