Testing hay very important this year

A University of Wisconsin nutrition specialist says first crop hay quality should be tested, especially this year.

Dr. Randy Shaver

Dr. Randy Shaver tells Brownfield the weather kept many farmers from cutting alfalfa when it reached its peak feed value, and that means making management decisions to maintain milk production levels.  “With the rain, we maybe struggled to get a high-quality first crop.  Others got it cut pretty good, so really, it comes down to testing, and then once we test for nutrients, protein, and fiber, then work with a nutritionist and they’ll balance that new crop that’s now in the silo with maybe some of the corn silages harvested last fall and be able to balance a diet.”

And Shaver says adding byproducts like cottonseed or dried distillers grains to the diet can help… to a point.  “There’s a limit to what those cows can utilize and still be efficient milk producers, so when we get into our forages, we’re really looking for something that’s lower in fiber so that they can eat that and produce milk efficiently from it.”

Shaver says feed quality always varies, but the wet spring forced many farmers to cut alfalfa much later.


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