The hay rake is an agricultural tool used for gathering cut hay for later collection and for accelerating the drying process. Hay rakes are the easiest way to collect and bundle cut hay, and many different types of rakes are available, from manual hand-held devices to large towed tractor attachments.

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Originating back in the 19th century, the hay rake has gone through incredible evolution and innovation. The process of hay collection is crucial for farms with livestock as hay provides a good source of food when other food stores are depleted. Hay rakes are the easiest way to collect and bundle cut hay. Some hay rakes designed to fluff the hay and turn it over to dry it faster. Some hay rakes are used in combination with a collector to make the process even faster.

There are a few versions of towable hay rakes that are effective at hay collection. Two of the main hay rake types are the star-wheel rakes and rotary rakes.

Low cost, easy maintenance and very popular, the star-wheel hay rake holds anywhere from 8 to 18 circular spikes, lined in a 'V' shape. These hay rakes aren't powered or need hydraulics to function. Although there isn't an engine to be maintained, proper tension on the individual rake wheels is crucial. They are more suited in dry climates where hay doesn't take as long to dry.

For properties in wet climates, rotary rakes are a popular choice for moving high-moisture forage. They are costly when compared to the star-wheel rake, but this price gap pays off for its ability to be used in more areas under different conditions. Rotary rakes can function on more than one rotor, some can function on up to 6. They are made to leave a fluffy windrow, allowing for good air flow and drying of hay. Some can be configured to make additional windrows if working with more rotors on unkempt, thick material that can't be clumped together once mown.

Hay rakes are an important tool for farmers needing an effective way to segment the hay for easy collection and to quicken the drying process. The right one for you may depend on your needs and the climate you live in.