Hay harvesting and feeding strategies are as variable as the weather that often dictates them. During the past year, forage specialists in 14 Southeastern states conducted two surveys to quantify how hay producers operate and determine the frequency of various hay enterprise practices, both good and bad.
At the recent virtual Southern Pasture & Forage Crop Improvement Conference, the initial results of the survey were presented by John Jennings, an extension forage specialist with the University of Arkansas.
The hay harvest and hay feeding surveys were offered independently and netted 2,158 and 1,467 responses, respectively. Most respondents in both surveys were over 50 years old, and the majority of that group were over 60 years of age.
Over 50% of respondents in both surveys were part-time cow-calf producers with an off-farm job.
To summarize the survey results, Jennings offered this characterization of the average hay-feeding farmer in the Southeast:
- • Over 60 years old
- • Part-time cow-calf producer with 77 head
- • Produces his own hay
- • Feeds 4×5 round bales of fescue or mixed grass
- • Feeds one hour per day, every day, from November 15 to April 1
- • Stores hay in the barn and feeds in rings
- • Hay is worth $35 per bale
- • Feeds supplement but doesn’t test hay for quality