This winter is the most expensive period of livestock production. Cold, wet weather increases the nutrient requirements of farm animals and the grass has stopped growing.
Research studies have demonstrated animals maintained in good body condition during the winter months and during gestation produce heavier offspring and have shorter rebreeding intervals.
Nutrition. The key to maintaining this high level of animal performance is good quality nutrition.
As with most farm animals, forages, pasture, hay, and silages provide the bulk of the animals’ nutritional requirements.
Knowing the quality of these forages allows farm managers to provide the best quality nutrition to the animals that need it the most.
Forage reports. Recently a local beef cattle producer brought in 13 forage analysis reports. These reports represented first and second cutting mixed hay produced on this farm.
The relative feed value (RFV) of the hay ranged from 75-102 RFV. Crude protein (CP) content ranged from 6.7-14.8 percent dry matter basis.
The amount of total digestible nutrients (TDN) ranged from 44-52 percent on a dry matter basis.
What does this mean?
Quite simply, these two forages obviously have a difference in terms of their ability to provide nutrients.
Selling hay. For me there is a significant difference in terms of value. I would price the better quality hay about 20 percent higher than the poorer quality hay based on the amount of energy, protein, calcium and phosphorus in the forage.
Have you ever bought or sold hay? Without a forage analysis how do you accurately compare value?
I would feed these hay sources differently and to different classes or groups of animals.
Growing/pregnant or early lactating females need the highest level of nutrition.
Finally, if I had a history of these analyses I would use them to develop my mineral supplement and protein/energy supplementation program.
Good investment. The bottom line is that $15 investment in the forage analysis provides me with one of the greatest opportunities to save and make money on a livestock farm.
For more information on forage sampling or winter supplementation contact 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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