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Country Discussion Topics
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Managing hay
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Bkeepr    Posted 01-20-2005 at 04:34:29       [Reply]  [No Email]
How do you do it?

I usually feed the oldest/worst stuff early and late in the season, and the best during mid-winter. I figure that way, the animals get the best nutrition when they need it most, but I also save "the best" in case I have leftover for the following year. I'll feed the year-old hay at the start of the next hay feeding season, then the worst of the new stuff.

This year I only just needed to start feeding hay, and the weather just suddenly got bad almost overnight. So I started right off with the best of this year's hay. It looks like I"ll have lots left over, most of it is going to be year-old, some even 2 years old, and I'll wind up mulching some to have room for this year's crop.

How do y'all do this???

Tom A

Sid    Posted 01-20-2005 at 21:46:21       [Reply]  [No Email]
We feed the better hay in the early spring to encourage cows to eat more of it. It is my understanding that the early spring grass is lacking in some nutrients and health problems can result from this. By feeding the better hay cattle will eat more of it and not fill up on grass lacking in nutrients. Those around here that do that seem to not have as many problems with milk fever or grass tetany

RichZ    Posted 01-20-2005 at 16:36:26       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I have 3 horses and a herd of dairy goats. I guess we're lucky here in upstate New York, because our hay yield is always good, and we always have at least 2 cuttings, sometimes more. Once the growing season starts, I let my goats out onto rotated pastures. If you rotate the pastures, you get a much better feed yield. Once growing season starts, I feed the goats very little hay, and horses, don't usually want any ( I rotate my horse pastures also). I use whatever hay is left over from the year before for bedding and mulch, and I store at least the first two cuttings of hay. If you're lucky enough to cut the hay with a good window of several dry days, check the moisture of the hay before baling and storing. In my experience, the drier it is, the better it'll keep. Seems pretty obvious, but a lot of people don't bother to check, and end up baling hay that's not dry enough and doesn't keep well.

rayinmo    Posted 01-20-2005 at 10:06:39       [Reply]  [No Email]
Keep the animals off of the new grass, pen them to where they won't just pick at the hay and waste it, give the grass a chance to get at least boot top high before pasturing,as short new grass goes through the animals" like sh1t through a tin horn".

mark    Posted 01-20-2005 at 08:20:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
What are you feeding ?

Horses do better on lower quality hay than
cows do. In fact when it gets cold it's better to
give horses courser hay because it helps
them generate heat better.

If it was me I'd feed out the old stuff and cycle
the newer into next year. Ya got a good sized
buffer going so I'd keep it going against a lean
hay crop in the future.

If it's a matter of storage and something has
got to go, I' d use the good and put a match to
the older stuff. Or see if you can make a little
money on your problem and put some up for
sale, one price for the older stuff a bit higher
for the newer.

Bkeepr    Posted 01-20-2005 at 10:00:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
We feed two equines (one mule, one ancient donkey) and a dozen goats and two sheep. The only one touchy about the hay is the partly toothless old donkey, who gets the best I can offer. So I really always feed some of the "good stuff" for him, no matter what. He can't chew anything very rough, but needs the hay even with the soaked chow he also gets.

No storage problem yet, but will have one when haying time gets here. Can maybe get a first cutting in, but definitely no more than that.

mark    Posted 01-20-2005 at 16:54:54       [Reply]  [No Email]
Since storage is the concern I'd look at selling
some off if it's in decent shape. Not sure about
goats and sheep but horses do just fine on a
hay of 9 - 12 % protien and on the course side.
They can also tolerate some dust as long as
the hay is fed outdoors, if you feed inside it
needs to be fairly dust free.

Some things that might help your old guy out
is add some oil sunflower seeds and
soybean meal to his diet. They'll help keep
beef on his bones and a shine to his coat.

This past year we really got lucky. There was
so much rain with few windows of good hay
weather that alot of folks ended up running
their swats through a chopper and shooting in
back into the field. Just by dumb luck we hit
the timing perfect, ran the last swat through
the baler with clouds looming on the horizon.

Whizz    Posted 01-20-2005 at 06:31:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
Tom, I do about the same as you. I,m feeding five horses and feed square bales as I don't like to leave any feed for them out exposed to the weather for very long like I would have to do with round bales. I try to feed my best stuff during the middle of winter and the older stuff in spring when the pastures start to green up.

KellyGa    Posted 01-20-2005 at 06:27:45       [Reply]  [No Email]
Here is a page with some good info, hope this helps. Fern is the hay expert though. He knows all there is to know about hay. Maybe he can help when he shows up.

Fern(Mi)    Posted 01-20-2005 at 15:05:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
Kelly: Thanks for putting me on the spot!!! (grin)
Bkeepr: May I add, we feed no concentrated amounts of alfalfas to the horses. Theoretically only grass hay for the most part. but some alfalfa and clover has been known to find its way to them. Been doing this for years and have had no problems feeding them free choice. Might add, feeding the horses I set the bales on end and they feed on them as if eating out of a bowl. Little waste and leaving only the outer crust clean-up goes into the manure spreader for broad casting later.

Katrina    Posted 01-20-2005 at 09:07:29       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thanks for posting that site, Kelly. I've saved it in with my cattle info. I love all the fact sheets from different extension offices.

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