By Tammy Jones
Traveling through the state last week, I have never seen so much hay being put down at one time. Hopefully, you were able to get your hay done as well.
With this year’s strange weather, the hay crop was harvested much later than usual. The amount of the nutrients in the hay crops may be very different than what we are used to.
It may be more important to test your hay this year than ever before.
Why have your hay tested? No matter what, it is better than snowballs, right?
I hear that phrase a lot. Maybe, but how much better? Farmers are not only farmers, but also business people. The goal of any business is to maximize profit.
The benefits of having your hay tested gives you a necessary tool to help you make crucial decisions so that you don’t throw your money away like a snowball.
If you don’t know what nutrients are in your hay, how can you know what supplements you need? Purchasing supplements that are not needed can cut into your profits. If you need supplements and do not invest in them, your herd health suffers, again cutting into profits.
The Monroe SWCD sponsors a hay and silage contest each year just prior to the county fair. We work cooperatively with our local Agland Co-op and Monroe County Ag Society. The purpose of the contest is not as much about choosing a winner as it is getting feed and forage reports into the hands of farmers. This is a small investment to help you maximize profits.
When a sample is brought in, it is either a hay or a silage sample. Hay samples are either mixed, grass or legume. Silage is classified as haylage or corn silage.
The samples are sent to the lab and are tested for the following components: moisture, DM (dry matter), protein, ADF (Acid Detergent Fiber), NDF (Neutral Detergent Fiber), ACP (Adjusted Crude Protein), NFC (Non Fiber Carbohydrates), calcium, potassium, magnesium, RFV (Relative Feed Value) and fat.
More in-depth tests are available, which include sulfur, ash, soluble protein, lignin, NRC energies, TDN, manganese, copper and zinc.
Now what does all of that mean? I have no idea? I majored in business. I am not a scientist. So luckily for me, I have two good sources that can explain all of this. Our field representative from our local co-op and our OSU Ag Agent both are very knowledgeable and eager to educate on this subject.
There are also fact sheets available on The Ohio State University Extension’s website. These tools can help you to decide in which order to feed hay, and which supplements you need.
What if they hay itself is your marketable crop? You can provide copies of the analysis to potential hay buyers if you have good quality hay so that you can get top dollar for your crop.
Whatever your motivation, I encourage you to contact your local co-op or Ag Agent today to get your hay tested.
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