RIGHT from when the First Fleet arrived in Australian in January 1788 with a bull, five cows, a bull calf, seven horses, 29 sheep, 19 goats, 74 pigs and 300 fowl; fodder production was seen as important.
They sent teams of cutters ashore to collect the native grasses to prepare the way for these precious animals.
And the rest is history.
Initially, the farmers of the day concentrated on broadacre grazing but by the 1830s fodder production was in demand and it continued to be dominated by horse power through to the 1920s and 1930s when working horse populations peaked.
The 1950s heralded a large expansion in Australian crop and pasture areas through increased use of mechanisation and the adoption of a wide range of technologies.
New crop types and improved crop varieties were cultivated and livestock to suit varying regional conditions were bred. Land use intensified throughout the higher rainfall areas of the southern and eastern portions of Australia.
With the advent of tractors, especially the small grey Ferguson in the 1940s, horse drawn binders were adapted to be towed by these machines.
Stationary balers were starting to be used to make rectangular 25kg hay bales. Wire was used to tie the bales. Pasture or cereal hay was cut with a sickle bar mower, dried, raked into a windrow then transported to the baler.
In the 1950s, tractor pulled balers, manufactured by New Holland, Massey, International, and McCormick, were producing 25kg rectangular bales. This mechanisation allowed for increased hay production, especially after the introduction of bale loaders attached to the side of the truck.
Some farmers loaded 25kg hay bales onto trucks manually with wool bale hooks.
In the 1950s Allis-Chambers balers were producing 25kg round bales. Larger 40kg fodder rolls were produced by Econ Fodder Rollers in the early 1960s.
Various systems of conserving loose hay were also in use including the JayHawk system. Hay was made and generally stored in the corner of the same paddock.
The 1950s and 1960s were characterised by a large increase in broadacre stocking rates in southern Australia, sustained by an increase in improved pastures and fodder crops and an increase in fodder conservation.
In the 1960s mechanisation of fodder conservation increased with the introduction of disc mowers, mower and windrowers, mower-conditioners and a variety of hay rakes and tedders.
And the pace of change has quickened even more in recent years.
Back in the day, carting in 25kg bales was hard, often hot and back-breaking work but it provided several generations of youngsters with pocket money and at the end of the day, the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of good honest toil in a nicely constructed stack.
Hay making goes way back