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Tom Baer

Wendy Fischer

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July 30, 2015


Are You Getting The Best Results From Your Hay Crop? American Ag Video Auction

Are You Getting the Best Results From Your Hay Crop?

In my line of work I have the privilege of seeing a lot of different
things, as well as I get to enjoy a very wide view of the hay industry from many different parts of the country. Hay is one of those crops that is never completely consistent due to weather, humidity, management, and just simply different ways of doing things in different areas. None of these are necessarily bad, just variables.  What might work for one grower in one part of the country doesn’t necessarily mean it will work all growers.

I do my best to stay educated and educate those around me on all the variable factors to growing good quality hay. With that being said, I think there is something we can all become more educated on: When is hay ready to cut? Now again, I realize weather is a huge factor here but if you can get in and cut early the payoff will be well worth it.

In my travels lately, I have seen an abundance of heavily bloomed alfalfa and rank old grass that is drying down. I have one simple thing to say- the money is in the test! What I mean by that is the higher the Protein, RFV (Relative Feed Value), RFQ (Relative Forage Quality), TDN (Total Digestible Nutrients) and so forth, the more your hay is worth. There seems to be what I call "the tonnage epidemic" where the growers believe if they let it grow longer then they will get more tons. That is somewhat true unless it is drying down severely on the stalk.

In my business people buy on quality, I have never seen where it pays off to put up low quality hay. My suggestion is to cut a little early, put up better quality hay, and then demand a premium price with confidence! If you do a better job than the next guy you should be rewarded! I see it at every hay sale, higher quality means more dollars in your pocket, and we all enjoy that! 

The second advantage is this- you may get an extra cutting which is usually worth more because it will test higher. I strongly encourage anyone, even if you are just feeding cows, to resist the urge to succumb to the "tonnage epidemic" and shoot for top quality. Over the long term you'll be miles ahead, your wife will thank you when she checks the bank account and you won't resent that new pair of shoes in her closet!

Tom Baer, Owner/Auctioneer