For most area cattlemen, hay feeding time is just around the corner. When supplementing cattle with hay, it’s important to know the quality of the hay you’re feeding and the nutritional requirements of the livestock consuming the hay.
Winter supplementation and hay production are significant production costs for Wise County beef producers. If your eye is on profitability, you should pay close attention to a cow’s body condition, forage (hay) quality and winter protein supplementation expenses. Forage quality has a major influence on the type and amount of supplement required to meet a cow’s daily requirements.
Variable rainfall in our area for June and July has robbed many Wise County hay growers of at least one hay cutting and, in some cases, negatively impacted hay quality. Though appearance and production history can provide some indication of quality, the only way to be certain is a laboratory analysis of your hay samples.
Random forage samples should be obtained that represent all harvest dates and all fields. Use a probe inserted into the bale from the curved side of the bale. Ten percent should be sampled to obtain a composite sample.
Classifying hay based on its nutritive value would help you as a producer to know the class of livestock for which a particular lot of hay is suited. For example, a beef cow needs a minimum of 7 percent crude protein in her diet, while a broodmare needs at least 10 percent.
Feed prices don’t seem to be coming down anytime soon if history serves us right. Twenty percent breeder cubes could get very competitive this fall, and these have been a common source for supplementing with marginal quality hay during the winter months.
If you are interested in having your hay tested, we have a hay probe and forage testing information here at the Extension office. By testing now, you have plenty of time to adjust your winter feeding plans.
All of the reasons above are why you should become involved in the Wise County Hay Show that will be held Sept. 4 at the Wise County Fairgrounds. Along with the Hay Show, Dr. Larry Redmon, professor and state forage specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, will be speaking on the results of hay sampling and how to produce quality hay.
We will also have live demonstrations of hay equipment and new technology provided by McMaster New Holland and Ag-Power. We invite you to be a participant in the event.
Registration begins at 9:30 a.m., and the program is 10 a.m. to noon with lunch to follow. The program is free. Pesticide license applicators will receive two general continuing education units.
We will conclude with a hay auction. Proceeds will benefit the Wise County Youth Fair.
Call the Wise County Extension office to reserve your spot, 940-627-3341.
Todd Vineyard is a Wise County Extension agent.