A great article written by Steve Morgan, UGA Forage Team about minimizing forage losses. The weather situation has challenged many cattlemen and forage producers this fall. Below are some great tips about storing and feeding hay.
According to USDA, in 2019, the United States produced more than 57.7 million acres of forage crops that were harvested for hay. Annual production from this acreage is over 140 million tons of hay valued at more than 18 billion dollars. Hay is the most widely grown mechanically-harvested agronomic crop in the United States. That being said, stored feed, including hay, is normally more expensive than pasture forage, so it is economically advantageous to minimize storage and feeding losses to the greatest extent possible. The objective of any hay feeding program is to provide adequate quantities of high quality hay to meet livestock needs not being met by pasture. It is estimated that more than half of the annual cost of feeding a beef cow is winter feeding. For many producers, it’s the single largest expense in running a cow. This is due to the cost of machinery, fertilizer, fuel, and labor to make, store and feed the hay. Therefore, it is critical to maximize feeding efficiency and minimize the waste in storing and feeding hay. Let’s consider some of the options available to help achieve these goals.
Hay can be made from many different crops. It can be made as a dry crop or baleage. When protected from the weather and other elements, it can be stored for long periods of time with very little nutrient loss. Hay often can meet, or almost meet, the nutrient needs of many classes of livestock. READ MORE