Hay season is off to a great start for my family, with a first-cutting nearly complete. We are busy stacking and moving round bales, and we have adequate moisture to assume a second-cutting won’t be too far away.
Harvesting quality feedstuffs can be a challenge, especially in very dry or very wet conditions. If there’s too much rain, the hay never has a chance to cure, which can lead to poor-quality, damp and moldy hay. The last few years, this has been our challenge, and feeding moldy hay to bred cows can lead to complications like abortions. On the flip side, a dry year can mean a shortage of hay to get through the winter months.
Warren Rusche, South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension cow-calf field specialist, encourages producers to explore haylage and baleage as methods that allow them to harvest without needing to deal with rained-on forage.
According to Rusche, “The largest single advantage is that the hay only needs to wilt to about 35-45% dry matter; it does not have to completely cure. That means a shorter time interval between cutting and harvest, and reduced risk of losing forage nutrients due to rain. Also there should be less leaf shattering by chopping at a higher moisture content, which should result in higher quality, more valuable forage.”
For additional information on haylage and baleage, click here.
This week’s poll at beefmagazine.com asks: How are your hay-growing conditions?
With 134 votes in so far, 59% say, “Poor. We need moisture.” Another 25% say, “Good, but it could be better.” The final 16% say, “Excellent. We’re off to a great start.”
Vote in this week’s poll here. And, let us know how hay season is going in your neck of the woods.