UNL CropWatch Nov. 25, 2009 Poor Harvest Conditions Lead to Need to Test Hay Quality

UNL CropWatch Nov. 25, 2009 Poor Harvest Conditions Lead to Need to Test Hay Quality

November 25, 2009

Is your hay as good this year as it was last year? Maybe not if you faced some of these conditions:

  • Late harvest due to wet weather
  • Rain saturated cut hay
  • A longer than usual period for hay to dry down in the field enough to bale after cutting
  • Hay that was a bit tough when it was baled, got a little hot, turned a little dark, and developed a bit of mold

This was a tough year to make good hay. Extra rain and humidity plagued many growers throughout the haying season. As a result, this year's hay often isn't as high quality as in most previous years and growers will want to adjust their feeding strategy accordingly.

The haying delays, weather damage, and heated bales probably changed the protein and energy value of the hay compared to what you get when haying weather is good. Before hay feeding begins, test the hay to determine how much protein is in the alfalfa so the right amount can be fed to cows on stalks or range. Knowing the TDN and protein content of grass hay will help you determine the right amount of cake or distillers grain to feed.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist