Stockpiling fescue and orchardgrass is generally considered an economical way to extend the grazing season and cut feed costs.
However, recently high fertilizer costs may call this practice into question.
Risks. It goes without saying, stockpiling does have some risks. First we have to apply approximately 50 units of actual nitrogen per acre at the correct time of year, get some rain, and cool temperatures to grow the additional forage.
Nitrogen costs. Let’s see what nitrogen cost does to the economics of stockpiling. For the example, we will assume stockpiling will yield 2,000 pounds of D.M. (dry matter) per acre.
We will apply 50 units of urea or 46-0-0 at various prices per ton and add in a $6 per-acre spreading cost.
We will total these cost-per ton of stockpiled forage and subtract it from the cost of hay D.M. per ton.
All figures are rounded and approximate. (See table.)
Stockpiling good choice. As the table illustrates, positive numbers indicate stockpiling as an economical alternative.
However, as fertilizer prices increase, it can become less economical particularly if hay prices do not rise as quickly as nitrogen prices.
At least for this year, it looks like we should still consider stockpiling.
(The author is an OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator in Guernsey County. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem OH 44460.)