Saturday, May 16, 2015

Quality Forage Makes A Difference

High quality forage is essential to beef cattle’s nutrition and beef producers’ bottom lines. Focusing on forage quality helps farmers keep overall costs low.

That means two things:

First, it doesn't cost as much to supplement and provide enough energy and nutrition to the animals that you're trying to feed.

Secondly, and more importantly, it ensures those animals are getting all of their nutritional demands met and have high reproductive efficiency.

Growing high quality forage requires proper management on the beef producer's part. Timely harvest is crucial, as the maturity of the crop is the primary factor affecting the forage's fiber content and digestibility.

The amount of fiber in the forage determines how much of the forage can be consumed. The digestibility of the forage determines how much energy is available to the animal.

Beef producers should sample their forage periodically. This allows the beef producers to decide what quality of forage can be fed to each class of livestock.

Lower quality hay should be reserved for dry cows, while higher quality hay should be set aside for cows with calves. Sampling allows the beef producer to determine the different quality of feed being fed to his or her cattle.

A dry cow doesn't need nearly as much energy as a lactating cow. It doesn't make financial and management sense to feed the same forage to both. One animal is being overfed, while the other is being underfed.

Unfortunately, there's a mentality that all hay is hay, that there's not any differences. In reality, there are a lot of differences.

Source: Dennis Hancock, forage specialist, University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Artwork: Cattle Grazing
Animal Husbandry and Livestock Books
Farm Supply
Feed & Hay