Plan the Timing of Grass Hay Harvest

Plan the Timing of Grass Hay Harvest

Native meadows will soon start growing rapidly and bromegrass is about to head out.  Here are some tips to make your grass hay suitable for your animals.

Do you delay cutting your grass hay until all your crops are planted?  Or perhaps you plan to plant  during first or second irrigation of corn.  Or like some folks, maybe you cut grass hay just when you get around to it.

Instead, how about cutting your grass hay so the grass nutrient content matches the nutritional needs of your livestock?  It could help minimize your supplement costs too.

We all know that protein and energy concentration declines in grass hay as plants get more mature and become stemmy.  As this happens, the types of livestock that can be fed that hay with little or no supplementation become more limited.

For example, grass hay cut at early head often can support more than one pound of daily gain

for pregnant yearling heifers all by itself.  But if the same grass gets mature, it won't even maintain

the weight of a mature cow without some protein supplements.

Timing Hay Harvest to Best Meet Your Needs

First, plan what type of livestock will receive the grass hay from each field.  Young livestock need high nutrient concentrations so cut that hay before or just when heads begin to emerge. If the hay will go to mature, dry cows instead, let the grass produce a bit more growth and cut it after it is well headed out, but before seeds develop.

Matching your hay harvest with your plan of use can pay handsome dividends in lower costs and less supplementing.


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