Feeding your 2018 Hay

Ration balancing options are available to beef producers who have a hay test by using a computer program. The UK Beef Cow Forage Supplement Tool is a simple web-based tool to estimate forage intake and supplementation rates.


The UK Beef Cow Forage Supplement Tool gives quick feeding solutions for available hay choices. Access the program here.

To use the tool, producers need to know the quality of the hay to be fed (dry matter, protein, NDF and TDN) and the desired stage of production of the cows. They can choose from among several supplement options and the program calculates the amount to be fed.

The program was developed by beef specialists in the UK Department of Animal and Food Sciences and is designed to provide quick and simple feeding solutions for Kentucky producers. Remember that many variables such as weather conditions, body condition, animal health, and palatability of feedstuffs can affect actual intake and animal response to a feeding program. Actual feed/forage intake and body condition should be monitored throughout the feeding program. Cattle should also have access to a complete mineral supplement and clean drinking water at all times.

The wintering cost is the largest single expense for beef cows. Manage this cost by making sound feeding decisions with your 2018 hay by using the UK Beef Cow Forage Supplement Tool. ~ Dr. Jimmy Henning, Farmers Pride


Program set for the 38th Annual Kentucky Alfalfa and Stored Forages Conference, Feb. 21st in Lexington

This year’s theme is “Practical considerations for the Production of High Quality Hay and Baleage”. Presentations include Economics of hay production, Hay prices and trends, alfalfaUpdate on hay making equipment and technology, Barn considerations for cash hay operations, Evolution of mechanization and transport in my hay operation, and How good is our Kentucky haylage? The event will begin at 8 am at the Fayette County extension office in Lexington and runs until 3 pm. Preregister here.


Equine Pasture Program Set for Jan. 28th

The annual Pastures Please!! Program will be held at the Mercer County Extension Office on January 28th, beginning at 5:30. Topics include:

  • Weedy Grasses in Grazed Pastures, A management Challenge (Dr. J.D. Green)
  • Using Seed Coatings and Other Techniques to Improve Pasture Establishment (Dr. Ray Smith)
  • How Novel: Safe tall fescue varieties for all classes of horses (Dr. Karen McDowell and Krista Lea)

Light refreshments will be provided. This is a free event and no RSVP is needed.


Forage Timely Tips: December

  • Begin utilizing stockpiled pastures.  Graze pastures with orchardgrass and clovers first.  Save tall fescue pastures for late winter grazing.
  • Using polywire, strip graze stockpiled pastures to improve Utilization.  Start at the water source and allocate enough forage to for 2-3 days.   Back fencing is not necessary.
  • Make plans to frost seed red and white clover onto closely grazed tall fescue pastures in February.
  • Some hay can be fed as stockpiled grass is grazed to stretch grass.
  • Begin hay feeding as stockpiled forage is used up.
  • Supplement hay as needed.
  • Minimizing waste by utilizing ring feeders.


Correctly Collect Silage/Forage Samples for Nutrient Analysis

With this year’s crop season quickly coming to a close, properly sampling this year’s corn silage and other forages and using these results to balance rations should be completed.  Remember that forage samples should be taken and analyzed throughout the feeding year, not just in the fall.

If a TMR mixer is used to feed cows, silage should be loaded into the mixer without other ingredients, mixed, and unloaded onto a solid surface. With the palm of your hand facing up, collect multiple samples (at least 10) from various locations of the pile in a clean 5-gallon bucket.  (If a TMR is not used and silage is not unloaded from the silo into a pile, silage samples should be collected evenly spaced over the time silage is unloaded from the upright silo with at least 10 to 20 samples collected with your palm facing upwards.) Mix the forage in the bucket with your hand and dump it out on a clean piece of plastic. Spread the silage out into a circle, divide the circle into quarters, and place one quarter in a plastic quart–sized bag.  If the sample is too large, repeat the quartering process after mixing the previously quartered sample by bringing one side of the plastic toward the opposite side. Freeze the forage sample if it will not be shipped for a couple of days and ship with a cold pack.  Make sure the sample will not be in transit over the weekend to the forage lab.  Samples should be kept cool after sampling, i.e. not placed on the dashboard or hot truck cab. ~ Dr. Donna M. Amaral-Phillips

Featured Publication: Round Bale Hay Storage in Kentucky, AGR-171

Most of the hay produced in Kentucky for feeding livestock is packaged as large round bales. Large package sizes and rapid baling rates minimize labor requirements for baling and transport around the farm (local). However, storage losses of round bales are frequently much greater than those of similar hay in smaller rectangular bales. Most of the increased storage loss for round bales appears to result from storage outside without protection from the weather. Losses during outside storage of twine-tied round bales result from weathering and from moisture movement from the ground into the bale. Weathering is visually associated with a change in color and deterioration of the outer layers of hay following exposure to rainfall, sunlight, and other factors during storage. Weathered hay suffers substantial losses of both yield and forage quality and is much less palatable to livestock than undamaged hay. Download the full publication here.