Southeast Farm Press published an article this week by David Burton of the University of Missouri that got a lot of attention within the Department. As producers throughout the Midwest take stock of their hay harvests and supplies, deciding what to sell and what to keep for the coming months, the article on preventing hay loss is well-timed. The article suggests limiting the amount of hay available to livestock at any given time, possibily limiting the hours per day livestock have access to the bale(s) and using a hay ring.
See an excerpt of the article below, then click over to Southeast Farm Press' website for the full-length version.
A considerable loss of hay can occur when livestock producers feed large round hay bales.
In fact, research shows that hay losses from improper feeding of bales can be has high as 43 percent.
The good news is that there are several methods producers can use to minimize those losses according to Tim Schnakenberg, an agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
One of the best ways to reduce losses is to feed hay in small amounts. "When this occurs cattle have less opportunity to trample hay and make it unappealing for consumption," said Schnakenberg.
"This requires some calculations of how much hay is needed per animal in the operation, factoring in potential losses associated with your feeding method."
Schnakenberg says many producers are using bale unrollers and some use bale choppers that windrow the hay on the ground. These work well for distributing manure around the farm due to moving the hay feeding to different locations each day.
If producers use this method, it is imperative for them to feed only a daily supply of hay at one time. Daily amounts fed at one time result in about 12 percent losses according to university research. Otherwise, hay losses may be over 40 percent because cattle walk or lie on it.
If feeding large bales, a bale ring or other type of feeder limits access to the bale.
Research shows that feeding losses, when using a ring or rack, are considerably lower (about five percent with one-day or seven-day supplies) than feeding without a ring.