How to get the most out of your limited hay supply

With the possibility of a dry spring leading to an even drier summer, getting the most out of your hay is critical.

By Larry Stalcup

Ranchers in a big swath of the Southwest and High Plains were in varying levels of drought; some have gone nearly five months with no measurable rain or snow. Fire danger is critical.

With those conditions, ranchers can only make good winter forage go so far without depending heavily on hay. But poor hay quality, storage and feeding practices can easily cut into an already tight profit potential.

“The grass a cow harvests herself costs about 1.5 cents per pound. Hay costs 4 to 5 cents per pound,” says Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist. That translates to an even higher expense if would-be-nutritious forage is trampled into mud or soil or covered with animal waste around the bale feeder.

Along with alfalfa, a variety of grasses are harvested as hay, ranging from warm season Bermuda further south to cool season grasses further north. Other feed, such as cornstalks and forages planted for hay, all provide cattle with supplemental protein and energy. “The quality of grass hay varies widely depending on the type of forage, management and condition of the forage, baling conditions and quality degradation during storage,” Peel says.

Click here to continue reading the article and see what Dr. Ted McCollum, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension beef specialist, has to say about hay quality and weight at BEEF Magazine. 

Stalcup is a freelance writer based in Amarillo, Texas.


via source BEEF  |  How to get the most out of your limited hay supply

For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Maggie Tucker at or (979) 845-1542.

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