Hay Testing Can Make Livestock Producers Money
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If you have had to purchase feed lately, you know that prices have gone up over the last two years. Feed prices have stabilized somewhat recently, but for awhile it seemed that prices increased with every load. With prices so high, it makes sense to minimize supplemental hay feeding as much as possible. But this is harder to accomplish than it sounds! Hay testing can make this process much easier.
Although many think they are a good judge of hay quality, hay is probably most often not as good as perceived. Many will judge hay quality by how it looks, how it smells, or how it feels in their hand. Looks, smell, and texture can be deceiving. The best way to judge hay quality is to test it. The numbers do not lie! Even though we are well into January, and hope to put grazing animals on green growing grass in the next 2-3 months, it is not too late to test hay. In fact, it can still be very beneficial to do so.
By testing hay, we can best estimate its quality parameters. We can collect a little bit of information related to your production goals and circumstances (finishing weight, anticipated calving/kidding, current body condition, anticipated herd/flock breeding dates, etc.), get an idea of what feed you want to supplement with, and then use the hay test results to assist in formulating feeding plans. We can help you identify if you are wasting feed or see if you are not feeding enough to reach your production goals. In other words, hay testing can make you money!
If you would like assistance testing your hay, and formulating feeding plans for the spring, please contact me here at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Yancey County Center.