Fall is hay testing time for livestock and beef producers

Fall is hay testing time for livestock and beef producers

Livestock farmers should test their hay before relying on it as the sole ration for their cattle this year, Purdue expert says

A Purdue University veterinarian urges livestock farmers to test their hay before relying on it as the sole ration for their cattle this year because a very wet spring in the Midwest delayed some harvests.

Related: 10 best ways to get more cattle on the same pasture

Mature hay has less energy than hay cut at earlier maturity and is not likely to adequately support a cow's nutritional needs during winter, said W. Mark Hilton, clinical professor of food animal production medicine.

He said the only way to know if the hay will meet the nutritional needs is to test it. Livestock farmers can contact their Purdue Extension educator, feed supplier or herd health veterinarian for information on testing.

Livestock farmers should test their hay before relying on it as the sole ration for their cattle this year, Purdue expert says

"We are just starting to receive hay tests from our producers on the Integrated Resource Management program that live all across the state, and the overwhelming majority are deficient in energy," Hilton said.

Deficient hay can cause:
• Weak calves at birth
• Low quality and quantity of colostrum produced by dams
• Increased disease (such as diarrhea and pneumonia in nursing calves)
• Increased sickness and death of cows in the winter
• Poor rebreeding rates on cows.

Related: How to take a hay test and collect forage samples in 8 steps

For farmers finding their hay to be deficient in energy, adding an appropriate amount of high-energy feed can solve the problem and keep cattle healthy, Hilton said.

Options for high-energy feed are dried distillers grains with solubles, corn gluten, soyhulls or cracked corn.

Source: Purdue

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