In the wonderful world of forages, one topic is written and talked about more than all others. It really encompasses a simple message: If you make and/or feed hay, get it tested.
“Every year I get calls for help with balancing rations, and most don’t have a hay analysis,” writes Mary Drewnoski in a recent BeefWatch newsletter.
Drewnoski, a University of Nebraska Extension beef specialist, wants growers to know that not all forages, even those of the same species, are created equal.
She notes that smooth bromegrass, for example, can range from 48 to 58 percent total digestible nutrients (TDN) with crude protein (CP) ranging from 6 to 11 percent.
“This can be the difference between a growing heifer losing 0.25 pounds per day or gaining 0.37 pounds per day,” Drewnoski says. “If you were targeting the heifer gaining 1 pound per day, you would need to supplement between 1.5 to 3 pounds per day of dried distillers to reach this goal. At $150 per ton for dried distillers, this is a range in cost of $10 to $20 per heifer for a 90-day period,” she explains.
Without knowing the forage analysis, the producer is faced with a decision by guess. Feed the lower rate and potentially have heifers that don’t reach breeding weight when they should; feed the higher rate and potentially spend money needlessly. Contact your county agent for help with hay testing
~ Hay and Forage Grower, December 2019