Nutrients: How valuable are forages?


As the winter feeding period approaches, thoughts of my feeding program come to mind.
For me, each forage has a value. I usually value forage with primary emphasis on its nutrient content.
With all of the rain this year some forages may have reached maturity or it may have been damaged by the wet conditions.
Nutrient content. To place a value on two different grass hay sources I am considering, I need to know the nutrient content of each.
A forage analysis can provide me with the information I need to make a good decision on my purchase and feeding of this hay.
Consider these two sources of hay for example (see chart).
Which hay source is worth more?
Pricing. The three major nutrients provided allow us to put a price on these hay samples.
Hay sample No. 1 is worth approximately $126.80 per ton and Sample 2 is worth $71.20 per ton, based on our local prices for these nutrients.
I would also consider some other factors, such as neutral detergent fiber and micro-mineral content before making my final decision on these hay sources.
Variables. As you can see, hay can vary considerably in nutrient content digestibility and value.
To properly sample your forage, pick up a copy of OSU Extension Fact Sheet ANR-2-98 and Fact Sheet AS-1-99 at your local extension office.
(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.)
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Forage values

All values in percentages.

Sample Dry matter content Crude protein Acid detergent fiber Calcium Phosphorus

Grass hay 1 90 18.4 31 .58 .59

Grass hay 2 90 8.4 45 .26 .30


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